How to choose your career path as a software developer

How to choose your career path as a software developer

There’s a strong reason why it’s so hard to read blogs or news websites without coming across an article on why we should all learn to code. Learning to code is considered nowadays, as essential as learning to read and write. So yeah, a round of applause for your career decision.
And it’s getting better. While software is engulfing the world and influences almost every aspect of our lives, there aren’t enough programmers to keep up.

If you are a newbie to software development, starting as a professional or still learning as a student, you might find this world kind of exhausting.
With a background in a technical university or not, hands-on experience or not, you somehow found yourself in the programming world. This constantly evolving world with lots of requirements in terms of skills you need and with an extremely intimidating tech culture.

What are your career opportunities as a developer?

Have you figured out your next career move? Well, there are two clear directions for any developer. You can choose either the Front-End or the Back-End path. For each of them, there are particular things to learn and we’ll walk you through some of them below. And eventually, you might end up mastering both Front-End and Back-End, as a Full-Stack Developer. But firstly, let’s see what we’re talking about.

Front-End
Let’s start with the basics. The front-end of a website is the part the user sees and interacts with. Now, you can simply create a website using HTML & CSS. These are the building blocks of the web. The structure and content you build with HTML, and that’s the backbone of any website you see, while with CSS you style the HTML throughout the page. Through CSS you set colors, fonts, background images, and the way the page is arranged.
Though you can create any kind of website with just HTML & CSS, JavaScript is actually the one that creates the true look. It helps you add interactivity, animations, and even fully featured Web applications. JavaScript has become actually the most popular language in both Front-end, Full-stack, and also Back-end development.
So yeah, basically, a front-end developer turns the design into a fully functional website.

Check out Front-End jobs here!

Back-end
Back-end technologies overshoot front-end technologies in particular projects. This part handles the logic, database interactions, user authentication and so on. Complex Web applications are best created with back-end technologies, such as PHP, Ruby, Python, and many more. JavaScript is constantly growing in popularity and it is a lot more used in Back-End than before. The things you can do on the web with JavaScript running on the server, and also in the browser, were hard to imagine some years ago. Due to a demand for the server-side programming capability among developers, Node.js has made a considerable step in that direction. With a callback concept and its event-driven architecture, Node.js is a server-side runtime environment used to develop fast and scalable applications. Its creator, Ryan Dahl, wanted to create real-time websites with push capability. So the event-driven paradigm became the heart of Node. It’s very light and lets you create a web server in just a few minutes.

Check out Back-End jobs here!

Full-stack
Full-Stack Development is the most popular developer occupation today, according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey. Well, of course, it is. A Full-Stack Web Developer has a powerful combination of skills that make them incredibly valuable. Being able to work on both the front-end and back-end portions of an application requires a lot of knowledge on many topics. This doesn’t mean one has to master both. It means that one can understand both when it comes to building an application. A Full-Stack dev has the advantage to know the code across all stack, being able to dive in anywhere whenever they need to.

If you want to go this far, for starters, you will need to know web dev basics: HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, Bootstrap, and jQuery. Once you’ve got the basics down, explore more advanced topics like NodeJS, ExpressJS, MongoDB, Authentication, and Authorization. Here’s a course that might get you on the right track.
To move forward, you could learn about more complex technologies, frameworks, and tools to build awesome and responsive web applications. You can find many courses with a single search on Google, but we’ve got you covered with the list below.

Check out Full-Stack jobs here!

What does it take to become a coding wizard?

Well, it takes a lot, but it’s so worth it! Starting with you being in line with the overall progressive values of the industry, to learning new things for most of your career life, coping with pressure, being disciplined about your work, being flexible, adaptable, and loving to create and build things. But above it all, it’s your mindset that leads you there. A problem-solving mindset. If you’ve got that, if you’re drawn to solve problems, you might be right to jump on this bandwagon.

Besides your mindset and personality, it’s the practice that lifts you. Choose the right tech stack for your goals, practice, and learn the tricks behind the magic. After you are comfy with one tech stack, move to another. After that, learn how to effectively learn new technologies fast and smart. Being a fast learner will give you an edge when you need to learn new languages and frameworks in the future.

Shaping your know-how is no stroll in the park, but you’ll get there if you’re passionate about the field. Here are some starting points.

Online resources
Thanks to the Internet, we can learn anything, and most of it is free. We’ve gathered insights directly from awesome programmers and created this selection of online resources.

Codecademy
It’s the place to learn to code for free and where most people who are new to coding get their start. This platform offers coding classes in 12 different programming languages, such as Python, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, SQL, and Sass, and also markup languages (HTML & CSS).

FreeCodeCamp
This is an interactive learning web platform, with an online community forum, chat rooms, Medium publications, free courses, and programming projects. It also includes interview preparation for developer jobs. You can learn to code following an 800-hour course, complete challenges (over 1400 available), build projects (30 for now), and earn certifications.

CodeWars
This is a fun way to learn to code. It’s an educational community for computer programming, where you can achieve code mastery through challenges. You can choose to master your current language of choice or expand your knowledge of a new one. It also offers the possibility to earn ranks and honor.

Khan Academy
Their home page says “You can learn anything” and that’s totally true. This platform offers courses in every possible field, but our focus is on software development. They offer several computer programming courses, starting with the basics. Also, you’ve got the opportunity to access the “Hour of Code”, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries.

Coursera
Last but not least, Coursera is a way to go. You’ve surely heard about it, you might’ve even tried it, but it’s worth mentioning. This large online course library, with courses free of charge, taught by real university professors, it’s a good place to bootstrap your knowledge.

Books
Similar to programming languages, programming books come and go. But just like JavaScript and Java, some books stand the test of time. This selection is a list of books, recommended by programmers around the world. Now.. reading books is not going to make you a great developer, but applying what you’ve learned to gain more experience in programming will!

There’s this book that comes up again and again, called “Clean Code”, by Robert Martin. The author sees a problem in what people think a good code is and he’s emphasizing that many think that functional code is already good code. He also focuses on the idea that, although many people know how to write good code, only a few understand what the craft of writing clean code is. Fair warning: all the examples in the book are written in Java, so basic Java knowledge is a must for a proper understanding.

Most books fall short when it comes to teaching us how to apply object-oriented programming, but this one doesn’t. Don’t judge it by its cover, nor by its teen slangs (“wicked-cool”). If you want to learn about the patterns that matter, why to use them, when to use them, how to use them, and when not to use them, read “Head First Design Patterns”, by Eric Freeman, Elisabeth Robson, Kathy Sierra, and Bert Bates.

Refactoring: Improving the design of existing code”, by Martin Fowler, addresses the problem of poorly designed programs that are created by less-experienced developers, resulting in applications that are inefficient and hard to maintain and extend. It’s a great book not only for developers who seek to improve their existing code but also for any programmer involved in the construction of software using object-oriented languages.

Here’s a different perspective, this book might speak mostly to beginners, but it’s quite a must for any programmer: “The Pragmatic Programmer – From Journeyman to Master”, written by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas. It wraps subjects from personal responsibility and career development to architectural techniques through a series of entertaining anecdotes, thoughtful examples, and interesting analogies. This book encapsulates best practices and major pitfalls of many different aspects of software development.

This one is a bit harder for beginners. It assumes you have some level of experience in at least one object-oriented programming language and also some basic experience in object-oriented design. “Design Patterns – Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software”, by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, and John Vlissides (often referred to as the “Gang of Four”), presents 23 patterns that help designers create more flexible, elegant, and ultimately reusable designs without having to rediscover the design solutions themselves. You’ll find here commonly occurring design problems, along with simple and brief solutions for each of them.

Own projects or freelance
Do you know why weekend projects and practice are important? These two days are the ones that can close the cycle you repeat for 5 days per week. That’s why they matter so much. When you break your routine, you’ve got the chance to do something for yourself. Besides online resources and books, most developers learn through personal projects. Why is that much of help? Because you’ve got the chance to do what you love, to work on a project you believe in. You’re the one who finds a problem and tries to solve it. It will train your mind to look for solutions. You’ll work on your own, with no superior to guide you. You’ll be independent and in full control of your work.

Want to learn faster?

We’ve got some tips and tricks for you.

Find more ways to run your code
Think of more than just one scenario for your code. It helps to break it. Yes, break your own code and try to run it in unexpected ways. Does it run, does it crash, does it run with errors, can you handle the errors without stopping the program?

Debugging
Dive into your code and understand it at a deeper level. Every programming language has some way of debugging. Debugging will help you browse through different layers of your code and learn what can happen when you call a method.

Use the Internet first
Do that instead of asking questions and waiting for the solution. Try anything and everything you can think of firstly. Then search, find answers, understand them, and try them. As a last resort, seek advice from superiors or peers.

Don’t copy the code without understanding its logic first.
If you’re looking for a solution to your problem and you find a block of code on StackOverflow that answers your question, don’t just copy and paste. When developers copy a piece of code that they don’t understand and use it to solve a problem, they’re practicing the so-called Cargo Cult programming. An efficient way to learn in this context would be to read the piece of code, understand all the features of the frameworks, and understand what every line does and the purpose of those frameworks in that piece of code.

Code your wings and enjoy the freedom

You’ve surely heard about the rise of digital nomads. How a digital nomad is a location-independent person. The world is their office. If you see yourself having this lifestyle, you love to travel and live new experiences, you’ve chosen the perfect job to do that. You have the ability to live in exotic destinations or try any metropolis you’ve ever dreamt of.
Here’s what your job is going to look like! 🙂
You can choose your desk. And you can choose how long you’re going to code from the same place.
“Meeting” is going to be an unheard-of word. If your days are peppered with meetings, you’ll know why this might be an upside.
You might feel as if you are your own boss. There are chances to have no person to hover over you and check on you all the time. You’ll explore the challenges of self-discipline and thrive as your own manager.
You choose where you live and when to leave. It might be relieving to know you’re not bound to a place, especially if you have a passion for travel and discovering new places.

There is so much room for you as a software developer. You’ll always find opportunities to grow and thrive. Whenever you feel you’ve hit a wall, find something new to sink your teeth into. It never gets boring. So, go ahead, leave your digital mark in the dev world! We’re here to help you with some cool dev jobs. 😛

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