How to Level Up Your Dev Game
Kim Arnett Jul 05, 2017
A year and a half ago, I was questioning my career as a developer. I love making things, don't get me wrong, but I was very disappointed with what I was making. Three years of maintaining apps, minimal new features, and all of my ideas were being over thrown. I'd come home from work frustrated, upset, wondering if I should just give up. Sound familiar?
Today, I'm really enjoying being a developer. I'm thrilled and so in love with our community... even that we have a community. Here's what changed to level up my dev game:
1. Immerse in the online community.
The fact you're on this site is a good start. The @thepracticaldev and dev.to community has been so welcoming to me, I know they'll be welcoming to you as well. It's one of the few developer communities I've seen that helps lift each other up, very refreshing.
When I started however, I went to Twitter and searched specifically for developers. I followed anyone with iOS/Swift/Obj-C in their bio. I followed CEO's of tech companies and tech blogs. I followed anyone in the tech world I found interesting. Sometimes I'd even @ them, asking about their OSS project or their views on x. In doing this, is how I found @thepracticaldev . I want to also note I made the conscious decision to keep the majority of my Twitter updates tech related.
Update your Linked In / Twitter / Blog pictures to be the same. Online branding is an important key & allows others to easily find and recognize you.
**Disclaimer: I have to say it. There's trolls everywhere.. but find a community that will help fight them off with you, not join in on them. I deleted my reddit account (twice) just for this reason.
2. Question your practices & Experiment
In following other techies - I saw a movement in the Swift universe of experimenting in different architectures. I wanted to understand why, so I started doing the same thing. I started with MVVM in iOS, and found cleaner ways to implement other functionality. Helper functions I was copying project to project, I abstracted into a cocoapod that I can easily import into my projects with one line. I created extensions of UIColor for color schemes that were easily editable in one place. These are just a few examples but they've cut development time & lines of code in half! Never stop learning.
Everything you learn, write down and put on your/a blog. This is why technology is moving so fast. We're learning from one another constantly and developing new mysteries to solve. Also if it's something you have to look up again and again, a blog is a good place for it as well. You know exactly where to find it the next time you need that information.
4. Go to Conferences
My first conference was Codemash 2016. It was overwhelming, but totally awesome as well. I learned so much, and felt refreshed to come back to work and apply some new tricks. It was most valuable by being able to talk to speakers afterwards. I was able to ask some advance iOS people questions that I didn't have access to otherwise.
5. Talk at conferences
After hearing about a Women in Technology conference in Ohio, I decided to try my hand at speaking. Many conferences will host specific speaker-only events (like a dinner) where you can chat before the conference. I was able to meet some new friends before becoming introvert-overwhelmed in front of 300 people. I met some amazing women in technology, I now have these great local connections that I can easily reach out to if I'm in need of help, or a job. Attending this conference in particular was extremely refreshing - knowing there ARE other WIT.
6. Go to / Start a Meetup
Feeling refreshed for 2017, I wanted to do something to give back to my local dev community. I found a need for advanced sessions in my area. It seemed like many meet ups were hosting a lot of beginning related topics, and social events. I wanted to learn more. I started a meet up aimed towards women in tech, but welcoming to everyone. This alone has given me the greatest sense of accomplishment. In addition to helping others succeed in their careers, I've met some amazing people determined to improve the community.
7. Make Connections
Some great advice I received from @JessicaJoEllen is "Network to give". By doing this, you are creating a lasting impression in your network and will give others the sense to 'return the favor'. As introverted as our field is, I feel the most fulfilled knowing I have a network of amazing people.
8. Disconnect & Self Care
Forgot one - thanks edA-qa mort-ora-y.
There's a lot of pressure to learn everything you can, and to have a thousand side projects going, to contribute to the OS community, etc. It's a LOT of pressure. Make time for yourself. Turn off the phone, turn off the computer, turn off the tv. Give your eyes a rest, go for a walk, enjoy the weather. I found that nature has helped me feel rejuvenated after a long week - so in the summer I'll go to the lake almost every weekend. On weeknights, I'll work in the yard, or take my dogs for a walk. In the winter, I'll work out in the garage flipping cheap furniture I've found. These are all examples - but I encourage you to find something you enjoy that doesn't connect you to a bright screen. Try a new hobby & come back to your work ready and recharged.
What has given your development career a boost? Please share below.