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December 21, 2016

10 Things Young Developers Should Know

"Google it and learn from them in advance to help balance your career to suit you.”

By James Nunns

Having a career in programming is creative, rewarding, and challenging. As another year rolls by, another batch of graduates are applying for jobs and hoping to kick start their career as a developer.

Packt asked 10 of their expert authors for the advice they would give to young developers just starting out on their career. Here’s what they had to say.

Mark Price

Author of C# 6 and .NET Core 1.0: Modern Cross-Platform Development

“Don’t go into the gaming industry because you think it’ll be “fun”. It can be fun, but so can working on business systems! Choose a position based on the technology and the team that you will work with – not the salary and not the industry.”

Belén Cruz Zapata

Author of Android Studio 2 Essentials

“My advice would be to trust your abilities. If you have a dream job or something you’d like to do, prepare yourself and give it a try, because it will be worth it.”

Steve Buchanan

Author of Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 SP1

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“Go wide at first, then narrow down and go deep. What do I mean? Start out as a generalist. Learn as much as you possibly can in tech. Once you have a rock solid foundation, find something in tech that you are passionate about and go deep in that area. Be careful not to become too attached to what you go deep in.

“We are in an industry where things change, so be ready to change your focus. Going
wide at first makes you a well-rounded technical person, which makes you agile. Going deep makes you a specialist. Specialists are able to build awesome careers.”

Find out the skills you need to develop games on the next page.
Marco Schwartz

Author of Arduino: Building exciting LED based projects and espionage devices

“If you want to be known for what you do, write a book. It isn’t that hard to do – you just need to get started and write about what you are passionate about.”

Alan Thorn

Author of Mastering Unity 5.x

“Avoid thinking that an ability to develop games is enough on its own to be commercially successful.

“For that, you’ll need more knowledge too: PR and marketing skills, business skills, and strong communication skills. These are all perfectly learnable skills but it’s important to recognize their necessity.”

Jon Hoffman

Author of Mastering Swift 3 – Linux

“Never ever stop learning. The moment you do you might as well get out of the industry.”

Hans Jurgen Schonig

Author of PostgreSQL Replication

“Expose yourself to as many things as possible. Try lots of different jobs when you’re a student – it doesn’t matter what. But remember, an exciting life cannot be found in job advertisements – you’ll only find an exciting life by meeting new people out in the real world.

“You can learn important life lessons while you’re out selling concert tickets on the street, or while you’re dating a girl, or even when you’re doing a job that others might think is stupid, but to you, it improves the world we live in.

“I’ve never hired a person with a “straight” CV for my business – I prefer people coming from backgrounds in Physics, Mathematics, etc. They tend to have seen and done more. So go and enjoy the world, expose yourself to new things, keep thinking, and stay professional. At some point in life, you’ll end up in a job you could not have envisioned before.”

Why should you treat it like a hobby? Find out on the next page
Joshua Miligan

Author of Learning Tableau 10

“Evaluate everything. Look for the deeper questions – don’t settle with a list of requirements but seek to understand why those requirements were requested. Challenge every assumption.”

John Horton

Author of Beginning C++ Game Programming

“Unless you are one of the super-talented and super-lucky people that lands a job straight after graduation, treat it like a hobby. But, be prepared to put in lots more time than you ever have for any other hobby.

“Don’t give up. If you want to make a game more than anything in the world, then nobody can stop you.

“Accept yourself. I recently spoke with a former Microsoft programmer who certainly got paid well in his career, but ended with nothing to point at that was his. If money is what you want, that’s fine, but if you want to really create something that you can call your own, chasing the money could end in a lack of fulfilment. If you are super-talented, think carefully about where you will be in 5 or 10 years’ time.

“Don’t sell your soul doing something you’ll regret just because it sounds cool or your university got you a placement. There are so many stories of top developers going indie’ and “finding themselves.”

“Google it and learn from them in advance to help balance your career to suit you.”

Sreelatha Sankaranarayanan

Author of Learning IBM Bluemix

“The young developers of today don’t need advice. I think they are doing everything right. They are willing to learn, explore, and experiment. They have fewer inhibitions, are more confident and are willing to go all out. All that I would like to say to them is good luck.”

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