10 Expert Tips for a Successful Career as a Developer

Ask any technologist and they’ll tell you there’s never been a better time to be a developer. The opportunities are virtually limitless for developers, who today have access to cognitive tools and computer power that was unimaginable even 10 years ago.

As with any profession, the challenge becomes where to start. So, we asked a handful of technology leaders what advice they have for tomorrow’s developers. Check out what they had to say:

By Kevin J. Allen

“If you’re going to go in to this (profession), have as much fun as you can.” Georgina Castanon, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Walk and Explore

“To be a great cognitive developer, as a business person I would say you need more than technical skills. You need to understand the user, the value proposition, and you need to start with a need. Start with the customer in mind and build a great cognitive solution to differentiate yourself.” – André M. König, Co-Founder, Opentopic Inc.

“I’ll share the same advice I received from former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner: ‘No matter what you do—even if it’s just getting coffee for your boss—do it better than anyone else and you’ll be successful.’” – Angel Luis Diaz, IBM VP, Developer Technology and Advocacy

“Learn new common agile practices. Really take advantage of development around your language of choice—though I don’t think you have to choose a specific language. But really learning good continuous delivery practices and cloud-native application architecture practices are ways that you’ll be able to take your skills and move them forward into the future.” – Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation

“Don’t be just a developer. It’s becoming far greater than just building moving parts. You have to look at the whole spectrum of what it means. And because we’re looking at how it impacts people—how do they interact with the system?—development itself is not enough. You’re not just a coder. You’re not just an engineer. You’re someone who is participating in a dialogue between human and machine.” – Thierry Hubert, Founder & CEO, Darwin Ecosystem LLC

“Read these two books: ‘The C Programming Language’ by Kernighan and Ritchie and Crockford’s ‘JavaScript: The Good Parts.’ They are the foundation to all modern programming languages. Both books define a primitive set of building blocks that developers use over and over. Cognitive and AI are the same thing, and it’s just that these building blocks have become more complicated and the paradigm has shifted from machine and file stuff to basic human behavior stuff. Then just code. It does not matter what, just do something and then figure out ways to make it a little better.” – Kyle Bowerman, Topcoder

“The piece of advice I’ll steal is, ‘Just do it.’ I think it’s a good tag line in this case. It really is about getting involved, and starting to work with the technology … You don’t need to wait. You don’t need to go to a four-year college in order to get this accomplished.” – Bruce Weed, IBM Program Director, Startups & Developers (Watson/AI, IoT, Blockchain, Big Data, Cloud)

“Focus on the details, but see the bigger picture. See the connection between your code and the end customer who would be using your software.” – Sriram Subramanian, CloudDon

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“The best developers make time to follow what is going on in the broader tech community. They understand that great outcomes are not about how much code you write, but how well you leverage the work of others, and the vast of ecosystem of tools and open source available to everyone.  They proudly stand on the shoulders of giants, and they contribute back to the community to help build the next generation of giants.” – Alex Pollitt, Tigera

“Listen to what the problem is, not what you’re being told the solution should be, then solve that.” – Edd Wilder-James, Silicon Valley Data Science


Get started on your way to becoming a cognitive developer. Check out our Developer Journeys for everything you need to quickly solve real problems: architecture diagrams, one-click deployment git repos, and pointers to essential docs. 

Originally published by DevelopersWorks Blog:

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