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Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

Posted on • Originally published at samjarman.co.nz

Tech Career Advice from 30 Interviews

Hey All,

I just wrapped up season one of my Dev Chats series, where I interviewed a different tech professional every 1-3 weeks asking them about their role, career, and their unique experiences. It was really great hearing from the folks I had on, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the interviews too!

We learned a lot about these folks, from how they got started, to how to get into roles likes through to how they mime typing. However, in this post, I want to summarise the career advice that came out of the interviews. What stood out? What was repeated? What can you take and use right now to improve your own career?

Be Yourself

The first piece of advice was about being yourself, being authentic true to yourself, and running with that. A lot of the people I spoke to had suffered a lack of confidence or drive at some point, but now, on the other side, they recommend that you look to work on those for yourself. And take some time out for yourself out once in a while, too!

β€œGod, I’ve started joking recently that it’s β€œdo things with the confidence of a white man” (blatantly stolen from a tweet). Is that rude? That’s a bit rude. It isn’t wrong though. Anyway, in all seriousness, I get asked this a lot, so I did a brain dump about it here.” - Monica Dinculescu

β€œBe yourself. You don’t have to act/look/behave a certain way to be an engineer or work in tech. Just be you, and bring your diverse and authentic self to the industry. I actually think my quirky brand has allowed me to stand out and have my voice heard more.” - Chloe Condon

This wonderful advice was echoed in interviews with: Juliet Brown, Vicky Brasseur, Γ“lafur Waage, Johna Rutz, Kristina Balaam, Cyris Chris Cloete and Carolyn Saund.

Go Get it!

This advice revolved around just starting work towards the thing you want, be it anything. Fear, confidence, and much more gets in the way of starting - but how many of these are real blockers versus imagined? I’ll let JD Traskfinish off this section.

β€œTake action. This isn’t limited to your career in software. I meet with so many folks who want to do something (get a promotion, ask out that person they like, start a business, renovate the bathroom - the list goes on). Stop waiting for permission, stop reading inspirational quotes on Facebook - basically, stop fucking around and do what’s necessary to do it. Nobody will ever hand you things.” - JD Trask

Also telling you to go get it were Atta Elayyan and Cyris Chris Cloete...and me!

Ask For Help

A lot of people feel fear when wanting to ask a question, and this harms you in the long run. There is nothing to be scared of, and no reasonable person should give you negative feelings for just asking a question.

I think Rose summed this up really nicely, β€œAsking for help doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be where you are, and doesn’t mean you’re incapable”.

This great advice which I can't recommend enough was also echoed by Kelly Vaughn, Carolyn Saund, Mike Jeffcott, Hannah Gray and Sami Peachley.

Never Stop Learning

It should be clear that in 2018, and especially tech, the only constant is change. New tools, technologies, and more are coming out daily while others fade into disuse. Thinking that you’ve finished learning is career kryptonite, so please, keep learning.

β€œIt isn’t possible to know everything. There will always be someone who knows more than you do. There will always be an expert who’s done more than you have. Never stop learning. Never stop trying new things.” - Jess Dodson

β€œDon’t plan your career, the world is changing to quickly. Embrace the challenges around you, take risks and see where you end up.” - Laura Bell

This whole idea is summed up by Katrina Clokie: β€œI think that those who are most successful are those who are always willing to learn.”

These clever folk also told you to never stop learning: Sarah Dayan, Bevan Arps, Laura Bell, Kristina Balaam, Andyy Hope, Joe Fabisevich, Carolyn Saund, Scott Hanselman... you get the point? Don't stop!

Teach What You Know

In addition to learning, you should be teaching. An important role, for example, senior engineers, is to make more senior engineers. They do this by teaching, using their experience to help guide their less experienced peers. I loved it when Kelly said β€œIf you don’t know, ask. If you do know, teach. We grow as a tech community by sharing. We all started out not knowing how to do what we do today.” These words couldn’t be more true.

Finally, from Sarah Dayan - β€œSenior developers, embrace the mentoring part of your position. Being a senior isn't only about a higher salary and staying away from the grunt work. If your company doesn't encourage mentorship or relies too much on you for the risky tasks and it eats up all your time, remind them the benefits of teaching: higher trust within the engineering team, juniors growing their skillset, and a better velocity at short, middle and long term.”

This advice was echoed bySarah Dayan, Andyy Hope, and Hannah Gray.

Actively Work on Core Skills

As JD so concisely said, β€œCoding is the easy part, people are the hard part”. Working on your core skills (aka soft skills), working well with others, and networking to meet others will provide so much benefit to your career. We have quite a beautiful saying here in NZ;

He aha te mea nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

(Maori proverb)

These wise words were also covered by almost everyone interviewed in Dev Chats, so there must be something there.

Focus on Quality

Finally, make great products. Use your above skills of empathy to think about the user when developing great products. As Mike Jeffcott puts it, β€œTry to think about the end-user’s experience of what you’re building in their context as much as possible.”. Said even more simply was Nick Parfene, β€œStrive to make your users smile when they use your software.”

This advice echoed byAtta Elayyan, Vicky Brasseur and Sami Peachey

Accept Criticism

Criticism and feedback are career foods. They’ll help you grow in more ways than you can possibly know. I think Erica Sadun sums it up well: β€œCriticism is so valuable in terms of growth and development. __I think people naturally want to defend themselves when they’re criticised, and while a lot of criticism can be genuinely stupid (it exists), I think the vast, vast majority is is people helping you, and to push back against that help, without giving it due consideration is not in your best interest.” And more concisely, Aurynn Shaw said: β€œStop Being a Jerk".

While I've picked some quotes here, I'm sure all the folks I talked to during Dev Chats season one would agree with this advice.

I really hope you got something out of this. Read the full interviews and more by clicking any of the names.

Best of luck with your journey,

Sam

Top comments (10)

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited on

All true! Thanks for this summary. I especially love that first one...it's why I recommend against "rehearsing" too much for interviews. It's okay to prepare, so you know what you want to say to common questions, and so you can do it without stumbling too much. However, ultimately, we want to see you, nerves, hiccups, and all. After all, we'll be working with you, not your rehearsed role.

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samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

Agreed, but these aren't job interviews ;)

Now I'm wondering if that wasn't clear :/

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Ahhh, see, my eyes just skipped over that first paragraph, so I defaulted to the other definiiton of "interviews". LOL!

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mxl profile image
Maria Boldyreva

Thank you so much for this great interview series, it's very inspiring. As an aspiring junior, I learned a real lot. I hope you continue.

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samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

Thanks Maria, that means a lot! I hope I do too :) Forming a list for the next batch now, and hope to reach out to them this week :)

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kirstywright profile image
Kirsty Wright

Great bits of advice in there, thank you very much for doing it and sharing :).

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samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’»

You're very welcome Kirsty! :)

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makhaw profile image
Mahmoud K

Glad you were able to get all those interviews lol.. been trying for 4 month and not a single one

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samjarman profile image
Sam Jarman πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸ’» • Edited on

What do you mean? :)

I just emailed these people and asked :) haha

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bironclark profile image
Biron Clark

This is super valuable. Great advice all around!

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