I’ve become a senior software developer in 1 year and how can YOU bootstrap it.

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Hey coders & geeks!

Today I want to share with you my commercial IT career story. Not to brag about it, but to give you some meaningful insights, on which things I would escalate if I would do it again. Below you can find three, in my opinion crucial, areas, on which you can focus, in order to get somehow similar results.

Education

I don’t care if you like it or not, but we still live in a post-industrialism world, where degree plays a huge role. I don’t like it either (especially if you’re from the USA and have to get a loan for that). I’m not saying you can’t become a developer without a degree, of course, you can. You will just need a lot of experience at the beginning. Actually, I think the beginnings in IT are the hardest part. Even interviews tasks are more complex and time-consuming than for higher positions. The degree allows you to somehow skip that part because you confirm your skills by the paper you hold. You will probably still need to complete tasks and go through the technical interview but the perception of you as the competent person is totally different, especially in big companies where older folks rule.

Takeaway points from education:

  • Degree in Computer Science helps a lot,
  • Bachelor is enough, in my opinion, no need for the Master Degree,
  • If you decide not to go to college focus on creating projects.

Experience

Every person which looked for a job even once knows it. Experience requirements in the job offers are crazy. You don’t need that much at all. At least not from a time dimension perspective. Let me clarify that. If a company is looking for somebody with 3 years experience, they don’t really care about time. I mean, would you hire somebody just because he has worked for some company for X years? Time is meaningless without context. What time represents for the company is problems which you encounter, possible size of projects you could have work on, etc. Switch your perspective here and let me show you a trick on how can you magically squeeze your time 🧙‍♂️.

From what I said earlier, you can draw the following conclusion. If the work experience counted in years is merely a representation of challenges, which takes time to appear, the companies are really looking for people which had encountered these challenges.

In other words:

If you want to squeeze required years experience, you have to encounter these challenges, so you have to do this work anyway but in shorter amount of time.

Let's be honest. In most IT jobs, you don’t work 8 hours. You drink coffee, talk with colleges, procrastinate a little. I get it. I do that too! But I can’t stand it, so I keep it to a minimum. This allows me to work in 3 or 4 works simultaneously! And that’s a trick. Listen we, software developers, have great power. They can’t really measure our work time, what they care about are results. But with great power, comes great responsibility. If they measure you by your results, sit down, code it in 2 hours of focused work, instead of spending 8 hours on this and that, and move on to the next project. That’s how you squeeze your time.

What also seems to attract a lot of companies is stepping out of your comfort zone i.e. being really a full-stack. Being a specialist is a big plus, but only if you have a broader view because IT is never a solo game. You have to connect a lot of dots, lots of people, and make something out of it. If you worked in the front end for some time, you’ll probably know what format of data will they like to get. +1 for you, they like you now and they think you’re a good software developer. Develop yourself just like you’re developing your code and step out! Use that technology with which you’re uncomfortable! After some time you’ll become comfortable with being uncomfortable and that’s when the magic begins to happen.

Takeaway points from Experience:

  • Squeeze your time by doing what is required from you, and moving on to the next project. Don’t waste too much time in workday (and I know in quite some IT positions, there is a loooooot of free time, you won’t fool me 😘),
  • Step out from your comfort zone. Work in different positions, with different people doing different stuff. Acknowledge what difficulties do they have, so you can develop better for everyone.

Unfair Advantages

“Unfair advantage” is the skill you have that is your unique talent. Now make it plural. In my opinion, it isn’t really your most unique talent. It is the skill set that makes you unique. In my case, it was two years of experience as a real estate agent which gave me a strong understanding of how to sell yourself to other people, as well as it taught me the importance of communication and on the other hand — music performances which gave me a lot of confidence. To be honest it gave me the biggest boost. People in IT love communication skills. They also highly appreciate the fact when you just admit that you don’t know something, even in the interviews (then there is a high chance that they will just tell you 🤯).

Always remember to also work on your soft skills. If you become better as a human being, you have a higher chance of scoring a better position. The sector doesn’t matter here.

Takeaway points from Unfair Advantages:

  • Communication is crucial in IT, especially in the remote work era. Always make extra sure that everybody knows where he stands, even when you have a feeling that you already repeated that 10 times. It is really THAT important.
  • Work on yourself. Work on your language. Work on your work discipline. Being a successful software developer is like being a successful lawyer. You need knowledge but people also have to be confident with your skills.

Summing it up

Smashing high paying IT job fast is totally possible. But just as in any high-paying position it will require a lot of value provided for the client. Focus on putting in hours, learning how to write better and more meaningful code as well as being a better human being.

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Developing everything in every possible language. IT is more about improvising anyway 🏴‍☠️

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Szymon Kolber

Szymon Kolber

Developing everything in every possible language. IT is more about improvising anyway 🏴‍☠️

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