If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more. – Gen. Eric Shinseki
One of the more common dilemmas in our trade is knowing what to focus on. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day and forget about the big picture of our careers and staying relevant in a constantly shifting landscape. No matter if you’re just starting out, or if you’ve been in the trade for a while, it’s important to always stop for a moment and ensure your actions line up with your overall career strategy.
It’s almost cliched for those just starting out to ask ‘What language should I learn?’ New developers want to ensure that what they’re learning is relevant and they aren’t wasting their time. This is a perfectly valid concern. However, I’m going put on my Mr. Miyagi hat and claim that the meta-knowledge you’re gaining while practicing is more important than the language you’re learning it in. Knowing how to break a larger problem down into smaller problems that code can solve is language agnostic. So is aggregating those smaller solutions into an overall design. Even better is learning how to troubleshoot and test your solutions before bringing them into production. Anticipate your customer’s needs, expect resistance and learn to persevere. All of this is more important than learning what’s hot and sexy.
For those of us that have been building and solving for a while, keeping relevant and sharpening the saw can become easy to neglect. It’s hard to take a step back from project work with its pressures and deadlines to invest in some new knowledge. If you’re fortunate, your employer will check in with you on training and goals within their organization. If you’re not (or possibly self or unemployed), then it will fall upon you to invest in yourself regularly. This must be done deliberately and in sufficient frequency to ensure you’re continuing to grow in your trade. Some ideas to spend this effort might be to earn a certification, learn a new development paradigm or maybe even start a blog.
So, what do I think is most relevant today? Relevant in the next 5 years? 10?
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to firstname.lastname@example.org.