How Software Engineers Can Stay Ahead of the Skills Curve
As of 2022, there were 4.59 billion social media users worldwide or roughly 57 percent of the global population. 4.59 billion people is a difficult number to even fathom, but — in local terms — that would approximately equate to 353 greater Los Angeles metropolitan areas.
When so many people from all ages, locations and backgrounds make up this digital ecosystem, trends come and go in the blink of an eye, and new features and updates emerge steadily.
At MagicLinks, an LA-based social commerce company that provides content creators with a means to capitalize on engagement and share products through its marketplace, engineers are tasked with keeping up with a different type of trend — continuously evolving industry trends, technologies and programming languages.
“The field of web development is constantly evolving, and new technologies and frameworks are constantly being introduced,” Full-Stack Engineer John Rice explained. “As an engineer, it’s important to continually improve my skills and knowledge.”
Balancing day-to-day tasks with the demand for continuous learning isn’t always easy, but engineers like Rice are finding ways to stay ahead of the always-changing world of software development.
Built In LA spoke to Rice, who works at MagicLinks, to learn more about the tools, programs and habits he employs to expand his skill set and hear what advice he has for other software developers.
MagicLinks is an influencer marketing platform that builds connections between content creators and brands to drive awareness, engagement and sales.
What particular habits or routines do you employ to develop your skills as an engineer? How does your company specifically encourage you to do so?
As a full-stack engineer, I employ several habits and routines to continually develop my skills.
I stay up to date with the latest technologies and industry trends by regularly reading industry publications and participating in online communities.
Continuously learning and experimenting with new tools and frameworks is key, whether through self-directed projects or by participating in hackathons and coding competitions.
Participating in code reviews and pair programming to learn from my peers and improve my own coding abilities is valuable, as well as attending conferences and meetups to network with other engineers and learn about new developments in the industry.
My company also encourages skill development by offering opportunities for professional development, such as providing training courses and conferences as well as encouraging employees to take on new and challenging projects to help them grow in their roles. Additionally, the company also encourages knowledge sharing among the team through regular knowledge-sharing sessions, mentorship programs and opportunities to lead projects.
My company encourages skill development by offering opportunities for professional development and encouraging employees to take on challenging projects.”
What specific tools or programs have been especially helpful in your professional development? How?
Several tools and programs have been especially helpful in my professional development.
GitHub has been a valuable tool for managing and collaborating on code projects, allowing me to easily share and review code with my team and contribute to open-source projects.
Stack Overflow is an online community where developers can ask and answer technical questions. It is an excellent resource for troubleshooting and learning new technologies and best practices.
Udemy, Courserac and edX are all online learning platforms with many courses on various topics, including programming languages, frameworks and development methodologies. They are great resources for self-directed learning and keeping up with new technologies.
Participating in hackathons has been an excellent way to work on new projects, learn new skills and collaborate with other developers. It has helped me to improve my problem-solving and coding skills and to learn about new technologies and tools.
Are there particular challenges that you have encountered to staying current with — and growing — your skills and knowledge? What advice would you offer individuals and teams looking to avoid these potential pitfalls?
I have encountered several challenges in staying current with my skills and knowledge.
One challenge has been staying up to date with rapidly changing technologies. The field of web development is constantly evolving, and new technologies and frameworks are constantly being introduced. Another has been balancing the need to learn new skills with the demands of day-to-day work. As an engineer, it's important to continually improve my skills and knowledge, but this can be challenging to do when I'm also trying to meet the demands of my day-to-day work. Additionally, learning new skills and technologies can be challenging, and it can be easy to lose motivation or to become discouraged if progress is slow.
To avoid these potential pitfalls, prioritize learning. Make a plan to learn new skills and technologies on a regular basis, and make it a priority. Stay focused and consistent. Try to set aside a specific time each week or each day to focus on learning. Lastly, network and collaborate — reach out to other engineers and developers, join online communities and participate in local meetups or events.