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Discussion on: Becoming An Intermediate Developer

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James Hickey Author

Thanks Helen!

Speaking from my own experience, which is similar to many others from reading, etc. on the topic, there's a point where you become confident due to the real-world experience that you've had and because you've built an expertise in some niche area, yet humbled because you know that there's always a better way to do things or just more to learn.

But then, even the expertise that's there is still subject to change!

I believe a big part of being in a "real" senior role is that you are able to effectively mentor people and learn new things quickly. Pre-requisites for that are being humble, able to listen well, not shove your ideas down people's throats, able to guide people and point them in the right direction, etc.

Intermediate devs will tend to focus on the areas that they are getting good at.

Whereas, seniors will have a very wide breadth of knowledge (in addition to an in-depth knowledge of some specialized area) so they understand that, for example, non-relational databases are great for solving problems X,Y,Z but that relational databases are good for dealing with A,B,C.

With seniors, in general, there's more of a grasp of the foundational principles that enable them to understand foreign topics much quicker and easier by discovering where those principles are "inside" those topics.

For example, NoSQL can be confusing and overwhelming when first looking at it. But, at the end of the day, all you really need to know is that you're just saving JSON objects. It's basically like taking a relational DB and saying "I need this to be really fast so let's turn off all the extra stuff (transactions, integrity, blah blah) and just shove JSON into a table."

Once the intermediate has established some expertise, he needs to come back out of that pit and start gaining wider more general knowledge (which sounds weird, but it's true). I think that after "mastering" (in a sense) one area, it's easier to now look at more general topics and be able to gauge what's important to know about each of those topics. And when needed, you can dive into that.

That was long 😜. Good question!