Five Tips for Becoming A Software Developer

By Kai Dupe 20 Comments

1.  Determine what kind of programming you are interested in:

When I first became a software developer there were only two types of programming jobs to choose from.  You either had to write code for a mainframe computer or what was then called a personal computer (PC).  I did not have any interest in programming on a mainframe.  Although I learned how to use languages such as FORTRAN and COBOL in college, this kind of software development did not interest me.  Today, there are a few more choices for the new programmer.  Before you get too far down the path on learning your craft, take a step back and decide whether you want to develop software for the web, mobile devices, gaming consoles or televisions.

2.  Learn the fundamentals of programming:

Do not equate learning a language with learning the craft of programming.  These are different skills.  To be a good developer, there are at least two skills that you must master.  You must learn how to program and you must learn how to use a programming language.  I have seen many people make this mistake when transitioning from other careers into programming.  In some ways, programming is problem solving.  It is also problem finding.  Learning a language will not help you to problem solve, and the problem solving is the essence of computer programming.

3.  Choose a Programming Language:

Above I mentioned programming languages that I learned in college for programming mainframe computers (FORTRAN & COBOL).  Today there are many more languages to choose from.  Over the years I have used many languages.  I have never used COBOL or FORTRAN professionally, but I have used languages such as Clipper, PowerBuilder, C++, C# and Delphi.  There are many languages such as Java and Python that I have never used.  Some I care for, some I do not.  Take your time and explore some of these languages and determine if you like one more than the others.  Solve a problem using one of these languages.  You might also do a search on a job board or LinkedIn to determine which languages are most in demand.  For years Visual Basic was THE most popular programming language.  Recently I read that there are over 14,000 jobs available for PHP.

4.  Determine the best way for you to learn the craft of programming:

There are multiple ways to learn the art of programming.   I wrote a blog post last year on my blog (http://www.WhereAreBlacksInTechnology.com) regarding several ways you can go about learning these skills.  You can read that article here.  No one way is better than the other; the key is to find what works for you.  I actually went to college and earned a degree in computer science.  This worked for me.  And there were fewer options then.  But in my professional career I have met many colleagues who have taken very different paths to arrive at the same destination.  Choose the path that best fits your situation.  I am also a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT).  In order to become certified you must pass a series of exams.  For this credential I was able to use the Microsoft self-paced training kit and I was very successful.  Figure out what works for you.

5.  Determine if you enjoy the work:

After completing steps 1 through 4, take a step back and evaluate what you have learned.  Take a moment to reflect and determine if you are enjoying the work and knowledge you have obtained.  There is nothing worse than being locked into a career or job that does not energize you.  At this point, you should have some feel about whether or not you enjoy what programming is about.  Do you see the kinds of opportunities you had envisioned before started out on the journey?  Is the work as challenging as you thought?  Are the problems you are solving interesting?  If you have reached this point and you feel good about it, then you are well on your way.  Now you just need to gain experience.   Practice makes perfect.  From this point you simply need to do what developers do and develop software!

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    About the Author

    Kai Dupe

    Kai Dupé is a technical trainer and software development consultant with over 25 years of experience. He is an expert in languages such as Object Pascal and C#. Dupé has trained thousands of people on how to use programming languages such as Visual Basic and ASP.Net. Mr. Dupé is also a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is researching the lack of African American males in the information technology field. Kai is concerned with technology integration in urban schools as well as the educational failures of African American males. He utilizes his education, experience, and training to create software for organizations large and small. He is an advocate for technology integration in American schools and is dedicated to encouraging African Americans to participate in the digital society via workshops, seminars, and speaking engagements. In 2004, Kai founded Kai Dupé Productions (KDP) to provide a unique mix of corporate technology training as well as the personal and professional development needed to enhance corporate diversity, close the digital divide, and help to create smarter and better schools. He is an accomplished Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) and a Toastmasters Certified Speaker who works diligently to assist those around him to improve their lives through the use of education and technology. In 2000, Kai began publishing the WhereAreBlacksInTechnology Blog where he promotes ideas to bridge the digital divide.

    • Nice update. I like it 😀

    • Thanks Kai Dupe,

      Well I am struggling a lot how to go and on which track. Recently completed my professional degree, helps me a lot to choose my career.

    • Hi Raghu,

      Glad to help. Good luck and thanks for reading.

    • Kia

      Thanks for guidance , I’m really looking for a way to improve developing skills. I am computer literatured ( knowing of basic cincept of ASP.net & C# and hardware and desigining apps. but finding the way for going on right way is important god will help us hopefully 🙂

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

      Regard
      KIA

    • You have highlighted a great point in this article. First we
      have to determine, of all the programming languages, which ones are we truly
      interested in. Because if we choose a programming language that we’re
      interested in we can easily learn that language and even achieve expertise.

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    • Alan Abraham

      Acetech https://plus.google.com/110605273263115533041 software development company is one of the leading software company India.

    • Imran Fahim

      Thanks for sharing your experiance…It’s a clear concepts for all beginners as like as me & also inspirational..Thanks again..

    • nice blog.thanks for this blog.keep continuing with this type of blogs.(http://bit.ly/15WFLeb )

    • SorinJackson

      Nice blog!
      If anyone is a beginner and want to make their career in software development industry then these are the best tips for them to becoming a best software developer.
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    • I love the way you mention each an every thing. If people can determine that they want to learn and want to be a developer then no one can stop them. I like the 5th point.

    • Tyson Trautmann

      Some good stuff in this blog post. I would emphasize that it’s important to learn multiple programming languages (and the related frameworks/ecosystem) and not just one to have a broader perspective on the tools that are available, otherwise every task can start looking like it calls for a hammer. I wrote my own blog post recently that elaborates on your point #4 and one way that I found to learn the craft, by actively setting goals and spending some time every day in the “stretch zone” developing mastery. I would be curious for your feedback if you have time to take a look! http://etherealbits.com/2014/10/how-video-games-made-me-a-better-software-engineer/

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like your every point. Great tips.

    • Sreekanth Reddy Ennam

      Great Mentor…Loved the way with the bullet points. I will make use of these 5 Action Points Sir!

    • Madeline
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    • Daarun

      Nice blog..
      Brahmasuthra Technologies Pvt. Ltd is a software company which provides beginners and job hunters a great opportunity to develop their skills in software field. http://brahmasuthra.com/

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    • snsj2

      Thanks for posting these great tips! Software development is an awesome field to build a career in, and we at BGO Software fully understand it. But staying up to date with the latest technologies and so on is of great importance. Regarding what you mentioned that there is nothing worse than being locked into a career or job that does not energize you, I think that if you become a software developer this can’t happen.