How to Stay Current as Software Development Evolves
The software industry is constantly evolving. To have a successful career, software developers must keep their skills fresh—but staying up to date with the latest technologies can be challenging!
That’s why the most effective software developers are—at their core—lifelong learners. Being at the forefront of innovative technology requires a mindset of intellectual curiosity and a desire to continually explore what’s next.
The most effective software developers are—at their core—lifelong learners. Being at the forefront of innovative technology requires a mindset of intellectual curiosity and a desire to continually explore what’s next.
4 Ways to Say Current as a Software Developer
Wondering how you can stay current as a software developer? We have a few essential tips to prevent you from plateauing throughout your career.
1. View source code on the job
There’s a common misconception that software developers must code for fun on nights and weekends to keep their skills sharp. In reality, it’s okay to enjoy activities other than coding! There are still plenty of opportunities to learn on the job without sacrificing your free time.
Software engineers at any level can continue learning by viewing source code on the job when working with open source software. It’s likely that many of the programs you’ll work with involve open source software, and digging in to examine the inner workings of different applications is a great way to expand your knowledge base.
2. Connect with peers at conferences
This bit of advice may sound old school, but conferences are still a great way to network with colleagues and immerse yourself in the latest updates in your field!
You’ll have the opportunity to hear valuable insights from industry thought leaders and engage in the “hallway track”—those meaningful conversations that occur outside of sessions and can shed light on new and important technologies. As a bonus, you may even make valuable connections that you can nurture for the rest of your career.
3. Stay plugged in on social media
Social media offers many opportunities to advance your career, both in terms of who you know and what you learn. For example, following hashtags on LinkedIn and Instagram for topics that interest you can keep you in the know and introduce you to other people online who share similar interests.
Another great use for social media is staying connected with folks you meet at conferences or other events—but don’t just be a lurker! Follow them, interact with them, and contribute to online conversations about their work.
Maintaining these connections will help you continue exploring new technologies and concepts. And remember: if someone shares something of value, thank them for it! Some of the best conversations are sparked by simple expressions of gratitude.
4. Follow software development news sites
News sites like Y Combinator and DEV consistently provide high-level insights into industry trends. In fact, we use these avenues to inform what we teach in our curriculum here at Launch Academy.
Just keep in mind that these websites can be rife with link bait, so be discerning and skeptical as you browse.
A Quick Note on Cargo Culting
Most software developers work with a diverse array of companies, technologies, and teams throughout their careers. The average developer changes roles every 3-4 years, meaning if you start your career in your 20s, you might work on half a dozen significant projects by the time you turn 40. There is no shortage of opportunities to learn something new!
While we encourage our students to explore new technologies, we caution them against what we call “cargo culting”—blindly adopting trends without meaningfully assessing them. It’s important to evaluate every technology at face value. Ask yourself: Does this technology have staying power? Will it enhance my skill set or bring value to my current projects?
Always remember that technological trends come and go, but the fundamentals of software development will last. In your pursuit of continuous education, find resources for learning basic concepts like Agile methodology, test-driven development, and good object-oriented analysis and design.
One of our go-to recommendations for engineers who want to learn more about the fundamentals? The Pragmatic Programmer by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas.
There will always be avenues to expand your knowledge—just make sure you’re moving forward with intention. Want to see how Launch Academy’s coding bootcamp curriculum helps foster a lifetime of learning? Check out our syllabus for all the details!