Beef up your skills: tips and trick for developers

July 20, 2020

Yes to learning! Yes to knowledge! Yes to improving yourself! Say yes today to making a better you!

I should just start the article before risking to transform into a self-help book. Oh, what even the slightest exposure to Jordan B. Peterson can do to you. But on a more serious note, working on honing in your skills is quite high on the “IMPORTANT THINGS” list when you’re in IT. Experience and proficiency in what you can already do is what makes you reliable. And being good at what you already know is ok. Ok if you want to stagnate for the rest of your life, doing just the stuff you’re used to, how you’re used to.

And even if you wanted to keep doing things in an old-fashioned way, in this day and age you just can’t anymore. Think about web-development, where platforms, frameworks and markup languages pop-up overnight and then get to be (somehow, someway) the standard in the industry. The best examples in this case are Angular, who is the youngest of the bunch, clocking in at just about 3 years-old, Vue.js, which is about 6 years-old, and the 7 year-old React. And dismissing them as being just a trend would be wrong, given the fact that they’re now required for almost any front-end related position.

So how do you improve what you already know?  Or how do you keep on the lookout for these emerging technologies? Regardless if you are a front-end nerd (like me) or a back-end fanatic (definitely not like me) We got a few ideas in mind on how to expand your know-how:

1.  Ask around 

Going at it alone when you try to enter a new technology can be daunting. Wondering where that coworker got that skill? Ask. It’s as simple as that. The community online is always willing to help, so you could just hop on StackOverflow. Other great places to ask around are Quora or, if you are a true connoisseur, join the community over on Reddit.

2.  Keep in touch with the news

You never know what can come up in the industry. Being informed about what’s trendy or in the up-and-coming category can help you decide what your next step will be. Going only for reliable sources, one of the best in the industry is Smashing Magazine, and I can’t recommend it enough. It covers a plethora of topics, so in any which way you are searching, they ought to have something about it. Also, their mascot is a cat, so bonus points from me.

If you prefer something more tailored to your preferences, check out Flipboard. Think of it as a sort of Tumblr, but much less cringey and way more reliable. Personalization based, it brings on your feed multiple news articles that are around your interests. 

3.  Internet is your friend

There will always be a ray of light online, so do not despair. Tutorials for all, be they beginner, intermediate or advanced, ethically sourced on all platforms. Youtube is a no-brainer. Some tech blogs do have tutorials, but they are far and few inbetween, so we wouldn’t recommend those. Learning sites like Free code camp (which is entirely free), Code Academy , Treehouse (both freemium type services) have courses covering every corner of the IT world. I can personally vouch for them, to be honest. They’re a very good starting point for any developer in the making, given the fact that they are detailed and interactive. 

4.  Start with the basics

Never be afraid to go back to basics and start from scratch. Be comfortable with the specific notions or terminology of the area you are learning first and start with the smallest ever of projects. The foundations of your knowledge should be set in stone before moving on to greater things, so take your time.

5.  Reverse engineer projects 

Taking a finished project and stripping it down to the essential, part by part, reveals the inner workings of things and it’s a very thorough learning experience. It uncovers different ways of thinking, often very different from yours, for better or worse. It’s an easy way to spot areas to improve and it can serve as a guide towards the norm of the industry.

6.  Replicate so you can create

Sounds like cheating? It really isn’t. Having a reference point isn’t a crime, right? Redoing a project that someone else did by hand is, once again, a good learning experience. Having something to compare it directly to is the best scenario in learning. 

7.  Code everyday

Even if it seems daunting, practice makes perfect. Daily practice, even more so. Even if it’s just half an hour a day. Continuous exercise and study stack up in time, so the progress, even if slower, will still be seen. Don’t sell yourself short or blame yourself for taking a long time, just be constant with it and never lose hope.

Any other suggestions?

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