Software Engineering is a tough profession. Every day we are faced with complicated problems that can sometimes make us question our ability to even do this job. For this reason, one of the keys to succeeding in the tech world is self confidence. Even when you are not confident in your coding ability, you need to be confident in yourself. Finding self confidence within yourself is not easy. With this post, I want to share some techniques you can use to help build your confidence at work.
Senior devs make mistakes too! Nothing gives you more confidence than being able to spot a bug or typo in a senior level dev’s PR. Worst case, you don't find any bugs, but you learn something from reading the code. When I was starting out, there was a Sr. dev who knew everything about Enumerable and always wrote the most compact, delightful enumerable code. Every Enumerable trick I know, I learned from reading the code in his PRs.
On the flip side, senior dev's, if a junior finds a bug in your PR, don't brush it off, give them kudos! A simple "Good find!" response will probably go a lot further than you think to help boost their confidence.
A lot of people learn via bootcamps and then land their first dev job and never look back. After you have gained some experience, consider going back to your original bootcamp and seeing if they are looking for tutors or mentors. Participate in local pair programming meetups. Helping someone else learn how to code will help you realize and focus on all that stuff you do know rather than the stuff you don’t. Usually, you realize you know a lot more than you thought you did!
This could be anything from owning a piece of code to reviewing PRs to monitoring a piece of infrastructure. It doesn’t matter what your niche is, just that you have one. Find something you can master and be the go to person for it. Every time someone needs help with something regarding your niche, they will come to you. By doing this, you will make yourself needed. Nothing instills confidence more than the feeling of being needed.
When you start out at a new company, find your person. Find that person who believes in you more than you believe in you. It doesn’t need to be a senior dev; it could be a peer. The key is that it needs to be someone that knows you professionally and understands what you do. It works even better if it is someone you work with every day. Those days when you feel like you have messed everything up, that person will be there to remind you that you haven’t. When someone challenges you, that person will be by your side defending you.
Starting at a new company can be intimidating and finding someone can be hard at first. Make sure to attend work events and take time during the day to learn more about your coworkers. Pair code with others to get to know them better. It will take some effort, but the payoff is worth it.
It has been shown in studies that literally just standing in a powerful pose can boost your confidence and help you perform better. Don't believe me? Watch this TED talk if you need convincing. Now when I power pose, I add a little twist to it. I like to do it in front of a mirror and recite these lines from Junior in Cool Runnings. Before any high stress event, I power pose. On days when I break production and feel worthless, I power pose. I will be the first to tell you it works. Start your day with a power pose and it just might get you started on the right foot.
"You can't outperform your self image" - Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence
I have read multiple books on sports psychology and one of the universal messages is that if you want to succeed, you need to envision it. You have to believe in yourself. When you walk into an interview, envision yourself crushing it and landing the job. Fantasize about what you will ask for when they beg you to come work for them.
"Learn to use your mind or your mind will use you. Actions follow our thoughts and images. Don't look where you don't want to go."
Once you have the ability, the only thing left for you to do is believe in yourself. Is this something that happens overnight? Definitely not! But, if you put the time into training your mind and changing your methods of thinking, slowly you will train your brain to work for you and not against you.
Now get out there and KICK SOME BUTT!