How to Succeed as a Programmer - Part 3

How to Succeed as a Programmer - Part 3

Welcome back to our DREAM series.

DISCOVER – who you are, your values, goals, personality traits and tendencies. REFINE – your focus, what areas of software tech should you learn or work in? ESTABLISH – building your personal brand. ADVANCE – your career to the next level. MASTER – the skill of learning and staying relevant.

Your personal brand is the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about yourself. Your personal brand is established through multiple ways and shown to others in multiple ways from an online presence, to your resume, from your interviewing skills to those you mentor or are mentored by. All of it can be used to grow your brand.

Start a blog to establish a public presence. Pick a specific niche or theme for your blog; don’t feel like you can’t veer into other topics, but your blog should have an overarching theme. Set a posting schedule, stick to it, then spread the word about your blog. Become an authority by writing posts that solve a problem or give a guide on how to do something valuable. Even if you are brand new to the tech world you can begin to establish yourself online, many even blog their journey through school or bootcamp.

Keep your resume up-to-date; it is much easier to remove something later than try to remember something from years ago. Be a portfolio manager by picking the jobs that align with your career and personal goals. Be open to trying new things; you never know what you might be missing, and you can always go back to what you did before if you don’t like your new direction.

No matter where you are in your career if your starting or wanting a change interviews come into play and are a time to communicate your brand to others. There are five keys to having a successful interview: be prepared, be honest/authentic, relax, be thorough, and be yourself.

Prepare Research the company and key individuals before the interview, so you know who and what is important to the company. Be honest and authentic in your interview. If you don’t know the answer, tell them that, but follow up with how you would find the answer.

Be Honest Honesty is key. You do not want to mislead in an interview, because once you get the job you have to perform what you said you could. However, interviews are still the opportunity to brag about what you can do. Remember no one is perfect.

Relax An interview is just you talking to someone about your skills and technical things you already know; there’s no reason to stress.

Be Thorough Use interviews as an opportunity to interview the company to ensure the position aligns with your personal and professional life.

Be Yourself Be yourself in the interview; it makes a bad impression when you come across as nervous or fake, and interviews are often used to determine if you are a cultural fit for their company.

Mentors are a great way to help you dig further into yourself and to teach you along your journey. Find a mentor to follow and coach you; mentors don’t necessarily have to teach you something in your field, a mentor can teach you soft skills as well. Find someone better than you. Learn from them. Follow in their path. Have more than one mentor. Or be a mentor to others. You will better learn topics if you have to teach them to others and figure out what you do and don’t know. You never know, a mentee could be the key to a future goal on your career path.

Lastly, make time for your side projects. Carve unnecessary things out of your day to make time. Use tools like Trello, Kanban, and Inbox Zero to streamline your efforts and start/finish your projects. Personal project show who you really are and what you are really interested in. They keep your passion ignited and keep you motivated to keep learning!

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James Shaw

About James Shaw

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer

James has been professionally programming for 30 years starting in C, C++, and moving to C# in 2000. He has received the ASP.NET MVP award 3 times and was a founding member of ASP Insiders. His recent roles have been less programming and more helping engineering teams improve, in roles such as Director or VP of Engineering.

  • Responsible for leading over 100 software engineers
  • 3-time Microsoft ASP.NET MVP Founding member of ASP Insiders
  • Owned, built and exited 3 startups
  • Started a charity with his wife to help women protect themselves from violence, Beating Violence
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