Why think beyond code?
How soft skills make a world of difference in the way you grow at your career, and why it matters.
Most good software engineers dedicate their lives to catching up with the latest trends in tools, programming languages, and frameworks. And, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It pays well to be on the top of your game, especially if you intend to frequently move between jobs. And if you’re a new software developer or just a few years into your role, I believe this is the right to do as well. But as the years pass by and things get more sophisticated, this approach doesn’t scale. Besides, unless you dream to be coding even at the time of your retirement, it doesn’t even make sense.
Coding is a small part of the larger game.
Like it or not, most software solutions merely address a small part of a larger business problem. The code you write or the software solution being developed won’t make any sense if it doesn’t fit into the larger business solution. Whether you just started your software career or are many years into it, it always makes sense to understand what your code is solving for the businesses your company serves. Only after that, you would have a greater understanding of your impact on the company. Coding is not the same as building, and rightly so.
Code keeps changing; underlying principles don’t.
Most code keeps changing with changing all the time. Changes in business needs, changes in the technology stack and frameworks, people moving out, or new hires - everything changes code all the time. The only things that don’t really change are the underlying principles of programming - which is also why good companies always focus on CS fundamentals such as data structures and algorithms, allowing candidates to program in their choice of language during the interviews. Only when you think beyond code, you can develop a stronghold of such software principles, ultimately gaining mastery over software engineering itself.
Coding skills are the baseline for your career growth.
As a software engineer, if you cannot build, you are not an engineer in the first place. So, as you navigate your career, most people who work with you only view this as a baseline - something that’s a given. And as you perfect your engineering skills, what matters most to everyone you are working with is what you are known for beyond your coding skills. Your ability to articulate things in ways all the stakeholders can understand, your ability to make decisions and keep moving, your ability to evaluate risks and think of mitigations, or simply your ability to lead, among several others, are going to be the differentiators.
Coding for the sake of it will often lead to mundane work.
Many software engineers love to work on the latest and greatest code even if it means that they are working on mundane things that have little to no impact on the business problems they are solving; and to do that, they often cite lame excuses. Unless there is a clear relationship between the work you are doing and the business impact it could have, the enthusiasm could quickly fizzle out. Your motivation is high only when you are working on things that have a real business impact. Keep thinking beyond just coding every time - often applying the Pareto principle; 20% of your work could have 80% of the impact you want to make - and always pursue work that has the highest impact.
As you grow in your software engineering career, you would want to focus more on the soft-skills aspects of engineering than merely coding. That’s what we want to help you with, at devprinciples.co.
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Until next time!
Team Dev Principles