How to Protect Yourself as a Software Developer Against Rapid Changes in a Fast-Paced Industry

Jobs in software industry are normally good job with relatively high pay. But some people think it’s like our industries where you put a lot of initial efforts and then it’s all done. But software development not only needs a lot of initial efforts, but also a lot of efforts after that to stay up to date and relevant. Software developers is what they called a skilled worker. These types of jobs as the name suggests relying heavily on the skills. But some of these jobs not only need skills. But also, the industry itself is going so fast that even if you have the skill now, there’s no guarantee that your skills are going to worth anything two years down the line.

In this situation, it is absolutely necessary to have a strategy that keeps your skills relevant. That means a developer needs to see learning like an investment. Some of our investments yield high returns, but have a short lifespan. Some on the other hand you can bet on for the long term. There are a lot of other considerations also that helps us to protect ourselves form a rapidly changing industry.

So, in this post, I’m going to tell you about the things I’ve learned over the years that helped me keep my skills relevant. Also, the strategies we can adopt when learning things. Also, some advice for developers who are getting older, because situation for them is a bit different.

General Ideas about how to protect yourself in a fact paced Industry

  • Focus on fundamental skills and knowledge: These are the building blocks that are unlikely to become outdated. Also, you can apply them to a wide range of situations.
  • Look for transferable skills: These are skills that you can apply to different fields or industries. For example, problem-solving and communication skills are highly transferable.
  • Stay up to date: Keep learning about new developments and advances in your field. This will help you stay current and be able to adapt to changes.
  • Follow your passions: If you’re passionate about something, you’re more likely to stay engaged and motivated to learn more about it. This can also make it more likely that what you’re learning will have long-lasting value for you personally.

The Dangers of Learning Without Strategy in Software Industry

One of the most important things that someone in the software industry needs to pay attention to is having a learning strategy. This is absolutely crucial in this industry. The reason is that as a software developer, constant learning is a must. So, when learning needs to be constant and continuous. Because of the fast-paced industry, it goes without saying that having a learning strategy becomes very important.

Dangers of learning without strategy

  • Learning things that does not have long lasting value, that is, the return on investment for learning them is very low
  • Learning things that are not complementary to your already owned skills, that because some skills are complimentary. For example, learning a web language and framework like JavaScript is more valuable to a web designer than learning go
  • Another problem is wasting time and resources. Without a clear plan, you may end up spending a lot of time and resources learning things that are not directly relevant to your goals.
  • Lack of focus: You may lose focus without a strategy, making it easy to get sidetracked from what you’re trying to learn.¬†This can make it difficult to make progress and achieve your learning objectives.
  • Inability to prioritize: Without a clear plan, it can be difficult to prioritize your learning and focus on the most important things first.
  • Difficulty measuring progress: Without a clear set of goals and a strategy for reaching them, it can be difficult to track your progress and see how far you’ve come.
  • Decreased motivation: Without a clear plan and a sense of direction, it can be difficult to stay motivated and engaged in your learning. This can lead to giving up on learning altogether.

Overall, having a clear learning strategy can help you make the most of your time and resources, stay focused and motivated, and achieve your learning goals more effectively.

You Have to Learn to Say No to Learning!

In software industry, not only it’s important what we learn, but also what we chose not to learn. That is to say we need to consider if what we’re learning algins with your career goals. So, in that situation, we need to be able to figure out if something has professional value for us or not. Here’s some tips that might help you determine if something you’ve decide to learn has long lasting value.

  • Consider the relevance of the topic to your current or desired job role. If the topic is directly related to the tasks, you perform or the skills you need in your current or desired job, it is likely to have value for your career.
  • Look at industry trends. If a particular technology or skill is in high demand or expected to be in high demand in the near future, it is likely to have value for your career.
  • Seek advice from colleagues or mentors. Other professionals in your field may be able to provide insights on the value of a particular topic for your career.
  • Research job postings for positions you are interested in. Look for any required or preferred skills that match the topic you are considering learning.
  • Consider the potential for personal growth and satisfaction. Even if a topic may not have immediate practical value for your career, it could still be worth learning if it is of personal interest to you and helps you grow as a professional.

How to be Able to Predict the Best Skills for the Future

In software industry, it is a valuable skill to be able to predict somewhat what technologies are going to be big in the future. That helps us to have long term plan for the things that we decide to learn. Also, it can help us with we decided to start a business to solve a problem with that technology.

Suggestions that might help you know if a skill will become more valuable in the future

Connect to other people in your field through the following means

  1. Follow technology news and industry publications. These sources can provide information on the latest trends and developments in the tech industry.
  2. Attend tech conferences and events. These events often showcase the latest technologies and can provide insights into which technologies are gaining popularity.
  3. Follow tech-focused social media accounts and online communities. These sources can provide information on the latest trends. They can also serve as a platform for discussion and debate about emerging technologies.
  4. Research job postings for positions you are interested in. Look for any required or preferred skills that match the technology you are interested in. If a particular technology is mentioned frequently in job postings, it is likely to be trending.
  5. Seek advice from colleagues or mentors. Other professionals in your field may be able to provide insights on which technologies are trending and worth learning.

Reseach the Technology and Its Future

  1. Research the technology’s adoption rate. If a technology is being widely adopted by companies and organizations, it is more likely to have a future.
  2. Look at the technology’s road map. If the technology’s development team has a clear plan for the future and is actively working on improving and expanding the technology. That means it’s more likely to have a future.
  3. Consider the technology’s competitiveness. If a technology is outperforming or providing unique benefits compared to other technologies in its field, it is more likely to have a future.
  4. Research the technology’s market and industry. If the market for the technology is growing or is expected to grow, or if the technology is being used in a field that is experiencing growth, it is more likely to have a future.

It is important to note that it is difficult to predict the future of any technology with certainty. It is always a good idea to stay up to date with industry trends and developments and to be open to learning and adapting to new technologies as they emerge.

Focus on the Fundamentals (Learn things that lasts) Here’s Why

Focusing on fundamentals provide a strong foundation for further learning. By developing a strong understanding of fundamental concepts and principles, you will be better prepared to learn more advanced topics and technologies. Also, fundamental concepts are applicable to a wide range of technologies and contexts. By learning the fundamentals, you will be able to apply your knowledge to a variety of situations and technologies. Rather than being limited to a specific tool or framework.

Also, another aspect is the long-lasting value that they can provide. Fundamental knowledge is more enduring than specific technologies or frameworks. While specific technologies and frameworks may become obsolete over time, the fundamental concepts and principles they are built upon are likely to remain relevant. As a result, investing time in learning the fundamentals can pay off in the long term.

Fundamentals and Problem Solving

But there’s another aspect that also is very important in software career, and that is related to problem solving. In problem solving, we need to be able to break a problem into smaller step. Then we can think about what small problem needs to be solved first and then we can move on the next small problems. But in order to be able to do that we need to be able to see those smaller building blocks. So, guess what helps us to see that?

Learning the fundamentals, for instance, how can I argue about why a piece of software is not fast enough. While I don’t know about the fundamentals of algorithms, or a network call is slow without knowing the fundamentals of HTTP? Fundamentals are necessary for critical thinking and problem-solving. A strong understanding of fundamental concepts and principles is essential for being able to analyze and solve complex problems. I would argue that even those building blocks that consist of a fundamental concept, also have smaller blocks. For instance, learning about formal logic is something that programmers does not think about often, but it can help tremendously with their problem-solving skills.

In short, focusing on fundamentals is important because it can provide a strong foundation for your knowledge and skills. It also can help you apply your knowledge to a wide range of situations and technologies. And enable you to think critically and solve complex problems.

Learn Formal Logic

One of the most important skills which is not only long lasting and useful to your career in software, but also it will be going to provide tremendous value in other aspect of your life is formal logic. Here’s some reasons to learn formal logic can be valuable for software developers for a number of reasons:

  1. Formal logic is a key foundation for computer science. Many fundamental concepts in computer science, such as algorithms and data structures, are based on principles of formal logic.
  2. Formal logic can help you develop strong problem-solving skills. The process of constructing and evaluating logical arguments requires careful analysis and critical thinking. These are skills that are valuable in the field of computer science.
  3. Formal logic is used in the design and verification of software systems. Understanding formal logic can help you design more efficient algorithms and create more robust software systems.
  4. Formal logic is a useful tool for verifying the correctness of software. Techniques from formal logic, such as proof by induction and model checking. These are techniques that can be used to formally prove the correctness of software.

Overall, learning about formal logic can be beneficial for software developers who want to develop strong problem-solving skills and create high-quality software systems.

Another important aspect which goes into philosophy of things is the critical thinking ability. Here’s a book that is one of my favorites that helped me a lot in developing a critical way of thinking.

Danger and the Benefits of Jumping too Early into A Technology

I still remember if early days of .Net core. The framework that we now call Asp.Net Core use to be called Asp.Net 5 or Asp.Net Next. Even the compiler that we now use to compile our .Net core application has changes. Back then there was the concept DNX which was basically a cross platform .Net executioner which is now replaced by dotnet. But prior to .Net Core being fully released, These were the concepts that were existed in RC or release candidate of that framework.

Now imagine someone jumped too early into adopting and learning that technology. Because of the fact that the technology was not fully released yet, anything that they have learned is not useful anymore. Of course, those were the disadvantages of being an early adaptor.

Pros and cons of adopting a technology too early

Advantages:

  1. First mover advantage: Being an early adopter can give you a competitive advantage, as you are able to take advantage of new technology before your competitors.
  2. Opportunity to shape the direction of the technology: By providing feedback and contributing to the development of the technology, early adopters can help shape its direction and ensure that it meets their needs.
  3. Opportunity to learn and gain expertise: By being an early adopter, you have the opportunity to learn and gain expertise in a new technology before it becomes widely adopted. This can make you a valuable resource to your organization and increase your value in the job market.

Disadvantages:

  1. Risk of investing in unproven technology: There is always a risk that a new technology may not live up to its hype or may not be adopted as widely as expected. This can lead to wasted time and resources.
  2. Limited resources and support: As a new technology, there may be limited resources and support available, which can make it more difficult to get started and overcome any problems that arise.
  3. Limited compatibility with existing systems: New technologies may not be compatible with existing systems, which can create additional costs and complications in terms of integration.
  4. Potential for security vulnerabilities: New technologies may have security vulnerabilities that have not yet been identified or addressed. This can leave early adopters at risk of being targeted by attackers.

Realize Your Power as a Software Developer by Combining Skills

Yes, combining different skills that are complementary can often increase your value as a professional. For example, if you are a software developer, learning a new programming language or framework can make you more valuable to potential employers. But if you also have skills in areas such as project management or user experience design, you will be able to offer a more well-rounded skill set that can make you even more valuable to potential employers.

In addition, if you have a diverse set of skills, it can make you more flexible and adaptable. Which can be particularly useful in today’s rapidly changing job market. It can also make you more attractive to potential employers, as you will be able to take on a wider range of tasks and responsibilities.

So, if you are looking to increase your value as a professional, it can be beneficial to identify complementary skills that you can learn to round out your skill set. This will not only make you more valuable to potential employers. But it will also give you the opportunity to take on new and more challenging roles within your organization. Not only that but also being able to have multiple skill set is extremely valuable if you want to start your own business.

Become a “Renaissance man”

We call people who are expert in multiple discipline a “Renaissance man”. A Renaissance man is a person who is well-versed and skilled in a wide range of fields. The term is often used to describe someone who is an expert in several different areas of study, and who is able to apply their knowledge and skills to a variety of different fields.

The concept of the Renaissance man can be traced back to the Renaissance period in European history. Which was a time of great cultural, artistic, and intellectual achievement. During this period, many individuals were celebrated for their wide-ranging knowledge and expertise. And for their ability to excel in multiple fields.

Today, the term Renaissance man is often used to describe individuals who are highly skilled and knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects, and who are able to apply their expertise to a variety of different fields. It is a term that is often used to recognize the breadth and depth of an individual’s knowledge and skills, and to celebrate their ability to excel in multiple areas of study.

Complimentary Skills to The Field of Computer Science

Finding eras in other fields that can be complimentary to your is crucial. Because those are the fields that if one be able to master them, they will provide great value when combined with software. There are many fields that can be complementary to computer science, depending on your interests and goals. Some possibilities include:

  1. Mathematics: Many computer science programs have a strong foundation in mathematics, and a background in math can be helpful for understanding concepts such as algorithms and data structures.
  2. Physics: Physics and computer science have a number of areas of overlap, such as simulations and modeling, and a background in physics can be helpful for understanding concepts such as computer hardware and network architecture.
  3. Economics: Economics and computer science both involve the analysis of data and the development of models, and a background in economics can be helpful for understanding topics such as e-commerce and data analytics.
  4. Marketing: Marketing and computer science both involve the use of data to understand and reach customers, and a background in marketing can be helpful for understanding how to develop and market software products.
  5. Creative fields: Fields such as graphic design, music, and writing can all be complementary to computer science, as they involve the use of technology to create and share content.

There are many other fields that can be complementary to computer science, depending on your specific interests and goals. Some other possibilities include psychology, engineering, and biology.

How to Look at Learning as an Investment and Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI)

There are several factors you can consider when trying to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of learning a new skill or technology:

  1. Cost: The first thing to consider is the cost of learning the new skill or technology. This can include the cost of any training or education materials. As well as the opportunity cost of the time you will spend learning.
  2. Potential earnings: The next thing to consider is the potential earnings you could expect as a result of learning the new skill or technology. This can include any salary increases or promotions you might receive, as well as any additional income you might be able to generate through freelance work or starting your own business.
  3. Time frame: It’s important to consider the time frame in which you expect to see a return on your investment. For example, if you expect to see a salary increase within the first year of learning the new skill or technology, you can expect a higher ROI than if you expect to see a return after several years.
  4. Risk: You should also consider the risk involved in learning the new skill or technology. For example, if the skill or technology is in high demand and there is a low risk of it becoming obsolete, you can expect a higher ROI. On the other hand, if the skill or technology is less in demand or has a higher risk of becoming obsolete, the ROI may be lower.

How To calculate the ROI with a Formula

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment

For example, if the cost of learning a new skill or technology is $1,000 and it leads to a salary increase of $5,000 per year, the ROI would be:

ROI = (5,000 – 1,000) / 1,000 = 4

This means that for every $1 you invested in learning the new skill or technology, you would see a return of $4. That kind of calculation might be ridiculous. But I bring it here as an example of how we can potentially think and analyze things. The amount I bring here are in terms of money, but it really depends on our goal. In short, it can be anything other than money.

Summary

In this post I’ve discussed some strategies that we can adopt about our learning in faced paced software industry. We also saw how to be able to choose wisely when it comes to our learning. Also, I discussed how our strategies should change as we grow older. If you think I’ve missed an important point, please feel free to share it with me in the comment section. And I’ll add them with a name mention in my post.

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Hamid Mosalla

Hi, I'm Hamid Mosalla, I'm a software developer, indie cinema fan and a classical music aficionado. Here I write about my experiences mostly related to web development and .Net.

 

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