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Cover image for JSCD: Soft Skills Are Underrated

JSCD: Soft Skills Are Underrated

msarit profile image Arit Amana Updated on ・2 min read

This article is the first in a series I am starting called "Journal of A Second-Career Dev (JSCD)". I make no promises about how frequently I will journal. However, I will strive to make each entry short, succinct and worth your time 😇 Thanks for reading!

I am four days into my first-ever role as a Software Engineer 🎉 I joined my company just as my team was completing a two-week sprint, which has allowed me to absorb much of how the engineering department works, in a short time. I work with engineers at all levels, from Juniors (like me) to Directors-of-Engineering. However, it's not their technical skills that have impressed me these 4 days (awesome though they are). It's their soft skills.

I remember how often "soft skills" were emphasized during my bootcamp's career-prep course. We were strongly encouraged to abandon the notion that developers worked in some deep, dark basement, isolated from the world, with only their code and coffee to keep them company. Software development, they opined, is a highly-collaborative field, where effective communication is crucial for building rapport and cohesion with a team, and for integrating oneself into the team's dev flow as seamlessly as possible. Our instructors also stressed how good communication skills could evoke confidence in our interviewers that, though junior, we will be easy to train and work with. I like to believe that my emphasis on communication and being expressive helped me land my current position 😄

After almost a week of work, I'm surprised by how often my coworkers talk with each other. Like, an hour doesn't go by without team members pulling up beside each other to hash out some database or algorithmic issues. Our Tech and Product teams work very closely together; frequent huddles of members from each team are common. As a newbie, I'm learning that it's important to establish what I know and don't know early on, so that my team member knows how to focus my training. Active listening is important too; we have so much going on that no one really has the time to repeat an explanation or instruction after they've left my space unto another task. I'm learning to have all my ducks in a row question-wise so I can take full advantage of having a team member's 100% attention. I'm learning that small, frequent interruptions are a drain on my team's productivity.


I think that we bootcamp-educated devs are so focused on leveling up our technical skills, most likely in a bid to prove that we can become engineers without a Computer Science degree 😓 However, we should not disregard the importance of having a humble, approachable communication-style. While I'm glad about the level of Rails and Javascript know-how I bring to my job, I'm even happier about the ease with which I'm building relationships with my team.

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Arit Amana

@msarit

Software Engineer. Former Public Health Analyst. Coding Bootcamp Grad. Mentor to aspiring and early-career female devs.

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