Let’s face it, most of us working in the IT sector are pretty particular about our day-to-day operations. We devote our professional lives to improving processes, double checking the details and expecting - demanding? - nothing less than a world where things work exactly as they should.
So when a new project, or boss, or career opportunity requiring a different set of skills comes along, it’s not always met with high fives and confetti. We’ve worked so hard to find our true calling. Why risk that for the unknown?
For a few reasons, actually.
Shifting technologies generally takes the form of working on a different framework (like switching from AngularJS to ReactJS) or working on a different part of the application (backend developers becoming full stack developers). When you face this opportunity, ask yourself: what do I want out of my career? Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear answer. Just take a step back and try to analyze yourself: do you prefer to stay focused on one thing until you make it perfect (or close to perfection)? Or are you easily bored and always looking to try new things?
Maybe you fall somewhere in between. Consider ways you can take small steps in the new or different direction, rather than making a giant leap all at once. And be sure that you have mastered at least one technology or framework before switching to a different one. That way, you have solid expertise to return to if the new direction doesn’t feel right.
Learning new things comes with lots of advantages, including meeting new people. Perhaps they offer an opportunity to teach you something. Perhaps they offer you an opportunity to teach them something. Perhaps they’re in a position to recommend you to others, or refer you to a particular user group, or join you for a coffee sometime. Believe it or not, even developers have to leave their computers sometime.
Mentors have the added benefit of failure. More likely than not, they’ve tried all the wrong moves you are likely to attempt, and can steer you clear of those pitfalls before you waste your time. If you’re not offered a mentor as part of the new opportunity, seek one out on your own. At the very least, insist that a high quality code review process is in place prior to jumping in yourself.
Fortunately, we as developers are better positioned for these sorts of career shifts than we might think. Starting out with a strong technical background is extremely helpful, since most programming languages are based on the same concepts that we were taught at the university. Making those connections and identifying the common concepts leaves little more than to learn the language, which might only differ slightly from your preferred methods. Also, developing the ability to write high quality, loosely coupled code will bring huge value. In combination with unit tests, this skill can also prevent potential issues from getting into production code.
They say learning something new is its own reward. They also say money makes the world go ‘round.
Enhancing your skill set is a smart move financially. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to add skills without decreasing your pay, or possibly even while increasing it, you’d be wise to do so if only to enhance your marketability long term.
If, however, you face the prospect to accept a new challenge for less money than you are currently making, don’t dismiss it out of hand. There are lots of reasons when that makes sense - including keeping a position at a company you love (that might not have other work for you), or finding a position at a company you love (that might not have another way in). Remember, the more skills you amass, the more pay you command in the long run.
Oana started working in the IT industry really fast, right after finishing her first year of university, at the age of 19. Initially she worked as a test engineer, but after a year she made the transition to software development. Since then, she strives each day to write better code than the day before and enjoys working with the latest technologies. In her spare time, she enjoys doing triathlons, karate, trail running, and backcountry skiing, having already finished some Ironman 70.3 distance triathlons.
the culture behind the code
Founded in 2003, Small Footprint is a software innovation company. We offer ideation, design, development and managed services to organizations that rely on innovative software to differentiate themselves and improve their businesses. Small Footprint makes custom software easy to manage through client partnerships based on collaboration, transparency and business value generation. We build intuitive software products, integrated enterprise systems and compelling digital experiences. Each of our employees shares the goal of being a part of innovation that impacts people’s lives and invigorates companies.
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