The Always Be Learning Mentality

Developers, and those of us in technology in general, are a unique breed for many reasons — and yes that in itself is a super-broad generalization. But it is commonplace for most developers/technologies share a core set of traits to be successful long-term in both our jobs and our various industries. One of the biggest is the fact that we’re always having to retool and learn. While I’m rarely coding these days as an engineering manager and technology leader, the retooling and always learning mentality that was instilled during my individual career phase setup a great foundation whatever the job the description.

Developers’ Need to Retool Throughout Their Careers

I started building web pages back in high school. The toolset was pretty limited, as was HTML itself. HTML has continued to evolve, and obviously so has what out job entails, what’s expected, and the tools we utilize. Part of our jobs is always looking out for what’s next — that can be a new framework, a new language, or a new tool. Whether it’s written into your job description, or not, you should always be looking to the future. Sure, web developers will likely always have some usage for the basics like HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but there are so many other tools and technologies that are here today and gone tomorrow.

Being OK with that is the first step. Learn what you need to get the job done today, but always have your eye on how you could do the job better, faster, or more efficiently with new frameworks, tools, etc. as they’re introduced.

Find the Silver Lining and the Big Picture

Our tasks as developers are often widely varied. Some requested tasks take longer to meet about and interact with the ticketing systems than the actual work. Then there are the big, long and drawn out tasks that last multiple sprints. Some are super easy. Some are super challenging. But through all of these, find the bits that are silver linings and contribute to the big picture. For example, is a task giving you the ability to code in a new language or is it exposing you to a part of the codebase or a service you don’t often get to work on? Maybe learning something in these tasks helps you in your career development in your current role, or your next one. Maybe it allows you to work with colleagues you don’t usually cross paths.

Of course sometimes, there is neither a silver lining, nor big picture effects. But even that, count your blessings that hopefully, the dev task is in the minority that fall into neither category.

Summary

While as a previous developer, and a current development manager, I’m looking at this through the eyes of our jobs and tasks, but the general ideas can apply to a ton of occupations. How does what I’m doing today help me down the road? How can the mundane help me, my team, and my organization? Keep these things in mind on a regular basis and it will help in both your daily mindset and also your career development.

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