Here are 10 things you need to do to go beginner to intermediate developer.
#1: Learn another language
It doesn’t matter which language you learn, but learning another language will make you a better developer. Even better is to learn one that is significantly different from what you already use on a regular basis. In other words, if you are a C# developer, learning VB.NET or Java will not help you as much as learning Ruby or Groovy.
#2: Learn advanced search techniques and strategies
More and more, being a good developer is not just about your skill, but your skill at finding information. Simply put, modern languages and development frameworks are too large for most people to remember much of them. As a result, your ability to get work done is often dependent upon your ability to perform research. Unfortunately, knowing how to find accurate, high-quality information is more than just heading to TechRepublic for the answer or typing a few words into your search engine of choice.
#3: Help others
Teaching others is invariably one of the best ways to learn anything. It is understandable to think that you don’t have much to offer because you are relatively new to the development field. That’s nonsense. Remember, everything you know you learned from someone or somewhere; so try being the someone that another person learns from. Spend a few minutes a day trying to answer the questions on DaniWeb or another site as best you can. You can also learn a lot by reading other members’ answers.
#4: Be patient and keep practicing
Research shows that it takes “about ten to twenty thousand hours of deliberate practice” to become an “expert.” That’s a lot of time. Furthermore, becoming an expert does not always mean doing the same task for 10 years; it often means doing a wide variety of tasks within a particular domain for 10 years. It will take a lot of time and energy to become an “expert”; working as a developer for a few years is not enough. Want to become a senior developer in your early 30s? Either start your education/training sooner or be willing to do a lot of work, reading, and practicing in your spare time.
#5: Leave your dogmas at the door
Beginner developers probably don’t know enough to state that there is One Best Way of doing something. It’s fine to respect the opinion of a friend or an authority figure, but until you are more experienced, don’t claim their opinions as your own. The simple fact is, Some foolish piece of advice or followed some “expert” who really didn’t know what they were talking about. A great example of this is the abuse of object-oriented architecture. For example, many beginners read some information about OO, and suddenly the class diagrams to their simple applications look like the Eiffel Tower.
#6: Learn a few advanced ideas in-depth
Much of what goes into being an intermediate developer is having a few concepts that you are really good at working with in code. For me, it is multithreading/parallelism, regular expressions. How did this happen? Multithreading and parallel processing came about because I read articles on it, thought it sounded interesting, and figured it out on my own; I keep writing apps that use those techniques. Find something that has you really hooked. It might be image manipulation or maybe database design or whatever.
#7: Learn the basic theories underlying your field
It’s one thing to write “Hello World”, but it’s another to understand how the words appear on the screen. By learning the “groundwork” that supports the work you do, you will become much better at it. Why? Because you will understand why things work the way they do, what might be wrong when things are broken, and so on. You will become better by learning what happens at a lower level than your work.
#8: Look at senior developer’s code
At your job, take a look at the code the senior developers are writing and ask how and why things were done a particular way. If you can, check out open source projects as well. Even if other developers don’t have the best coding habits, you’ll learn a lot about how code is written. Be careful not to pick up bad habits along the way. The idea here isn’t to just blindly imitate what other developers are doing; it’s to get an idea of what works and what makes sense and try to imitate it.
#9: Learn good habits
Nothing marks an inexperienced coder like stupid variable names, poor indentation habits, and other signs of being sloppy. All too often, a developer learned how to program without being taught the less interesting details such as code formatting — and it shows. Even though learning these things will not always make your code better or you a better developer, it will ensure that you are not viewed as an entry-level developer by your peers. Even if someone is a senior developer, when variables are named after their 97 cats or their functions are called “doSomething(),” they look like they do not know what they are doing, and it makes their code harder to maintain in the process.
#10: Have fun
Want to be stuck on the career treadmill? Hate your job. What it takes to move up in this business is not merely dogged determination to bring home an ever growing paycheck but an actual enjoyment of your work. If you do not like your work and you are a junior developer, what makes you think that being an intermediate or senior developer will be any better? Change jobs or change careers. On the other hand, if you love the work you are doing, great! I guarantee that you can become a better developer if you keep at it.