Useful Attributes of a Professional Software Developer

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Your Journey Starts Here on a blackboard

Have you got what it takes to be a software developer?

Well we come in all shapes and sizes, but some useful attributes would include some or all of the following:-
Illustration of a monster with lots of computer languages in thought bubbles

  • An enquiring mind
  • An ability to handle change without getting too upset about the skills that you are losing because they are out of date, or work that you have done you are proud of that needs amending.
  • Good communication both written and verbal.
  • A genuine interest in the subject.
  • Being able to admit you don’t know something or that you got something wrong. Nobody knows everything!
  • While you will always specialise in one computer language, knowing more than one way of doing things gives you perspective.
  • An ability to concentrate.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Being able to listen, keep an open mind, not jumping to conclusions (especially important when talking to your end users).
  • Be disciplined enough not to lose focus, try new things etc. when what you really should be doing is completing the app you are working on using the “things” already defined for it.
  • Ability to take the best of what you come across and filter out the rest. This comes with experience.

I mention nothing above about technical skill. If you know how to learn and remember things and you put the effort in, what appears to be way to much to remember, you will learn in time.

I am also glad to say wearing sandals, growing a beard and eating pizza every day are entirely optional.

When I was just starting, my teenage friends used to take the mick and I was almost embarrassed about my chosen career. They would say things like you must be really brainy or you must be good at maths. While maths was my top subject, I would say that I inherited two important traits from my parents: mum is creative, dad liked solving puzzles, any puzzle, crosswords, anything. I can see this in myself and think that helped me enjoy my career for so long.

When talking to youngsters I like one of Carl Franklins quotes, he said in effect “You can earn x working for a month at Macdonalds, or the same amount in a day as a software developer”. This is kind of true in the UK as well as the USA if you work at it.

Anyway enough gossip, the important thing is to be professional and do the best job you can. Hope this helps somebody.

About Phil

I have been working as a software developer since 1983. This blog could have been called "From Fortran 77, C and Cobol to C# in 20 (not so) easy years", but it doesn't sound quite right somehow. Besides I'm talking about what's happened since 2003, not before!

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