Reading online every day, I see people write about their wonderful journey toward software development. About how they started from an impoverished situation and are now working in some of the best organizations in the world as developers.
However, these developers often place more emphasis on the technical stuff you need to know before you become a developer and less about what you need to know in terms of the reality of the everyday life of a developer on the job — issues like how to deal with team members, complete project deadlines, and communicate with your team when you have problems you cannot handle by yourself. These issues are fairly talked about, but more preparation can be done in this regard.
This article emphasizes some of what you need to know, not only before becoming a developer, but also those things you need to know and have available when you are working on a team as a developer.
They say “Experience is the best teacher,” but sometimes learning before the experience will allow you to have a better overall experience.
Programming Is a Team Game
When you see a friend running, you feel very inspired to run fast. But do you know how many other people had to put in their time and effort to make such a feat possible? Well, the exact number might not be known, but there are definitely more people than just Bolt who made it work.
This is also the case in the field of programming. Movies like The Social Network have created this impression that we can just sit in our rooms and create a revolutionary application that everyone wants to download and use, like creating your own Facebook app or WhatsApp. But clearly, changing the world involves more effort and synergy than what these movies portray.
The reality of success in every field, not only programming, is that the effort of all is greater than the effort of any one of us. Effort when combined is far greater, and this is the type of effort teams need when creating awesome apps.
Beyond the technical skills as a developer, you should also always seek to work as a team. Do not be that developer no one wants to work with — the developer who knows it all. Even when you do know it, set out to work as a member of a team, because, as the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Working in a team not only makes you proficient in what you already know, but it also allows you to learn other things from your friends and colleagues that might take you a while to learn on your own.
Even methods of software development like agile and scrum work for teams better than if they are simply individual implementations. This way, the best effort is expended in doing the right tasks and everyone can work together on where we excel the best.
To be a team player, you should be willing to go the extra mile for your team members, even during times when you normally would not. If this isn’t already part of your personality, you still shouldn’t use the excuse that “I cannot go out of my way.” Have a growth mindset in what you do rather than a fixed mindset. Having a growth mindset simply means that we are not limited by our experiences and personalities, that we can be more and also do more.
Trying to understand your colleagues and knowing what they like best, and attempting to participate in such activities can be one way to create a formidable friendship between teammates. Trying to strike up conversations is another way to create bonds between teammates.
In essence, being a team player is about victory for the team rather than for the individual. This means being able to always seek victory for every member of your team. Ensure that your task and the tasks of everyone on your team move the whole team forward.
Knowledge Is Underrated
We sometimes feel we know very little and see no need to share what we know. Whatever knowledge you have, always seek to share it. Let others know what you know. One of the best ways to learn is by teaching others what you know. It validates your existing knowledge and provides an opportunity to improve on areas you are not very competent in.
It would not make any sense if no one understands your code beyond you alone. What would happen someday when you are possibly on vacation, and someone is reading your code? You would need to be called simply because no one on the team understands what you did.
Share whatever knowledge you have. No amount of knowledge is a waste. Set aside time during the week when you meet with your teammates to discuss and share knowledge.
Especially in the area where you feel a certain colleague could do better, never settle until you have tried your best to share what you feel and know in that area so that others can also succeed and progress.
Consider a new programmer who has just joined the team; make sure the transition process is smooth and that you help in every little way you can. It might not be in very big ways, but simply helping in small ways can enable a new programmer to succeed.
A lot of people have gone further in programming, not only because they tried, but because someone somewhere told them they could. In the end, none of us is smarter than all of us.
Discuss Issues Directly
People sometimes believe that programmers speak only to their computers, but sometimes the human side slips in and programmers fall into the everyday drama of gossip. Do not spread or listen to any gossip.
As coworkers become closer and share things with each other, some unhappy situations happen that can cause chaos between team members. A new programmer might be better than the current guys on the ground and that might lead to some tension in the team, especially when other team members believe the new player is a threat to the status quo.
Always be open and objective about any issue. Never leave issues unattended to and continue such discussions behind your teammate’s back. It might seem like a harmless endeavor, but when it persists, it causes distractions and distrust within the team.
Remember that if you talk behind another person’s back, you might also be talked about behind yours. It is as simple as that. When you realize that a conversation is turning into gossip, ensure that you not only leave such gatherings but try to admonish those people against doing such a thing.
It is not about excusing yourself; it is about standing up for what is right.