Closing out my first year of professional software development I have been able to look back at all the stressful days, rewarding experiences, and knowledge gained that has built a solid foundation for me to continue in my career.  All the worries that were there before the first day of work are gone and new confidence, knowledge, and skills have filled that space. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a myriad of different projects for many different companies. Some of the key differences I’ve noticed within my latter 6 months on the job is gaining more and more speed with tackling different tasks and resolving other issues. It has become easier to communicate my strategies of what I am trying to accomplish to my coworkers and friends. However, the biggest difference of all is the confidence I have gained throughout this year in my work and in my ability to build what our clients need. 

My first year was filled with plenty of great learning experiences but I am currently in the middle of what I believe should be my best yet. I’ve had plenty of opportunities before that involved maintenance of current projects and pushing new versions with new features or rewiring an application from basic HTTP calls to WebSocket and GraphQL responses. However, I have yet to build a full-blown professional application from the ground up. Being part of the process of building something that a business is going to use as the backbone of their company for storing and manipulating their data, managing their inventory, managing their employees, and employees using the mobile app as their tool to communicate with the rest of their team and management has been a truly rewarding experience. Starting out as just high-level discussions on the whiteboard with my team, figuring how to fulfill our clients’ needs, designing the database relationships, and then diving into the different areas of the project that are needed to bring everything full circle has been the best industry-related learning experience for me to date. 

When it comes to programming, continuing education is extremely important and will never stop. I’m not always the best at this, but I have put an even stronger focus on keeping up to date with technology trends and what is to come next. After getting more comfortable in my job and instead of always trying to make sure I am caught up with what I need to know day to day, now I feel like I have more room to look ahead. Some ways I try to do this are just spending 30 minutes in the morning or evening reading up on articles to keep me current with what’s happening in the tech world. I find Feedly and Twitter to be a great resource with this. I also mostly switched the podcasts I religiously listened to to ones more focused on programming in a professional environment. If you’re interested, one solid one is Software Engineering Radio. Everything is virtual now but I continue to attend meetups that pertain to areas of programming that are relevant to my job and help to continue my education. Lastly, an area I could get better at is reading books pertaining to programming in general. A great one to start with is Clean Code by Robert Cecil Martin. 

I would like to leave you with something everyone can relate to whether you are a coder or not. 2020 has definitely been a crazy year for everyone and has brought some unknowns to light. With that, I would like to express some gratitude because luckily my job and my income did not change all that much due to COVID-19. It proved to me that technology, and software more specifically, is a stable job market and flexible to economic changes. My heart goes out to those families who are struggling right now and if you have ever thought about making a switch or continuing education towards web or app development this could be a great opportunity to pursue that. If anything, it is a great exercise to teach yourself to think a little differently and to carry those skills over to whatever you may choose.