In 2018, there were a total of 23 million web developers in the world. And this number is estimated to reach 27.7 million come 2023. Looking at these numbers alone, you can only assume that every person will go through different journeys in order to become a web developer.
Trust me, I know. I've been a developer for 4 years now. To be honest with you all, the things I've experienced and gone through were not what I originally expected when I started learning code.
I originally thought that when I finally had 3-4 years of experience, I would know everything there is to be considered a senior developer. But boy was I wrong. That's why I'm here. I’m here to share with you all the 3 main things I learned in my 4 years of being a web developer. Let's get to it.
1. Don't be afraid to take on challenges.
Instead of being afraid to take on new challenges, you should be looking forward to them. There are many things we have in common, and among those is being comfortable. And that's not a bad thing. So let me give you 4 things that will make you more comfortable: familiarity, calmness, routine, and control.
Now why is comfortability important? Because when you're comfortable, your brain releases dopamine and serotonin which leads to happy feelings. And when you're happy, your productivity in the office increases. But if you're uncomfortable, it leads to fear, anxiety, and stress. And who wants any of that?
YET, an article on Forbes.com said that feeling uncomfortable is the key to success. Sounds contradictory doesn't it? But the reason for that is because when you're in discomfort, you're doing something that others don't want to do which is ‘being uncomfortable’. While you're intentionally making yourself uncomfortable, everyone else is just remaining uncomfortable. The article shared that by doing this it will lead you to success.
Kobe Bryant shared in a video that by simply putting more work (rather than remaining ‘more’ comfortable) you will outwork your opponent by 10 folds. If your opening works out 2x a day, you should workout 4x a day. If your opening wakes up at 9am to work out, then you need to wake up at 7am to work out.
As a developer you want to be different. Do you want to be ‘just’ like everyone else? The only way to improve as a developer is to do things you've never done before. This is because it sharpens your problem solving skills. Which in turn lets you do things you've never done before.
Let me state this again but this time more clearly: if you remain in your comfort zone, you will become stagnant. You won't improve. You'd just be doing the same thing over and over again.
Personally my comfort zone was gaming. Counter-Strike was the love of my life. But, I knew it was my kryptonite. I knew that unless I gave up gaming and instead used this time to improve my skill, I would get nowhere. So, I stopped gaming altogether, which meant unplugging my gaming computer and giving it away to help me be more productive.
So what does it mean to be comfortable? Being comfortable is staying exactly as you are and not trying to be a better you. The reason I'm saying this is because this was me. I was and still am like this and i'm still trying to change myself all the time. So if you really want to become a better version of yourself and become a better developer, you must make sure you stay away from anything that's preventing you from leaving your comfort zone. Because if not, when that day comes, you'll be left behind.
2. Learn to take risks.
True story. While I was working at my last job, I wanted to see my value as a developer in the tech industry. The way I did that was by interviewing at a ton of companies. And out of all the companies that interviewed me (within 2 years), I received 3 job offers. One of them was in the medical field, a dental start-up company in Newport Beach. They were actually willing to pay me an additional $25,000 a year on top of my current salary at the time. Sounds like the perfect job opportunity right?
But I didn't take it, or any of the other jobs for that matter. To be completely honest, the reason I didn't take any of those jobs was because I was way too comfortable at my current company. But even more than that, I was scared. I was scared to take the risk of working for a huge company that everyone in the world knows. It's because I didn't believe in myself. And let me tell you, I regret that to this day.
When I would tell my colleagues of the opportunities that I rejected. All of their responses were similar: "What?". I'd tell them that the reason I didn't take it was because I loved how laid back and easy our jobs were. I really wish I took that opportunity back then, but I was just too scared to take the risk. Meaning, I didn’t believe in myself. Never again.
So learn from my mistakes. Don't be afraid to take risks. I know taking on a new job isn't easy, but you need to stop waiting until you're ready to move on. It's important to take risks, because every risk you take comes with more experience and you learn more skills. And the thing about taking a risk is that it can present you with new career opportunities and perspectives. Even if that risk ends up being a failure, that in itself is an important lesson.
3. Imposter Syndrome.
I still feel Imposter Syndrome up to this day, but it's nowhere near how I used to feel back when I first started out. It's because i'm more experienced now than I was before. That's what coding for 4 years tends to do. And there's no better way to know if you've improved unless you grab those new opportunities by the horns.
It's not like I know how to code in 10 new languages or anything like that. I just became better at problem solving. Which by the way is a must for every engineer in this industry. I have my boss to thank for that, because he really ingrained into me what it means to problem solve and how to get something done even if it means facing a problem I've never solved before.
Now I don't approach problems the same way I used to, where it was like shooting at a target randomly and hoping you hit it. But trying to solve problems like that as a developer is a big no-no. It takes too long and efficiency is the name of the game.
So don't worry about Imposter Syndrome, it'll go away eventually.
So I went from doubting myself everyday to trusting in my ability that I can succeed. I've learned so much these past 4 years not only about code, but also much more about myself. And what you learn in coding can be applied in your life as well. So hopefully I was able to help you guys with my first hand experience.
Developer Relations Engineer @New Relic