Exelaration

Behavioral Best Practices for Launching a Tech Career

The desire to switch careers can result in the combination of so many human emotions: frustration, excitement, anxiety, and, most importantly, motivation. Most of us at one point or another ponder what it would be like to take on a new profession. But it’s one thing to just think about changing careers. Congratulations on acting […]

by | Sep 26, 2022

The desire to switch careers can result in the combination of so many human emotions: frustration, excitement, anxiety, and, most importantly, motivation. Most of us at one point or another ponder what it would be like to take on a new profession. But it’s one thing to just think about changing careers. Congratulations on acting on your motivation, believing in yourself, and taking the first step towards becoming a software engineer!

It was just a little over three years ago when I formally made the decision to transition into the world of software development, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. For me, the decision was made easier by my circumstances at the time. I was in a job that was not fulfilling me in any meaningful way. It was also not providing me an income that would allow me to live the life I desired. That said, it was still very scary to quit what I knew and commit to what I didn’t know: developing my software engineering skills to a place that would allow me to gain employment in the industry!

In this article, I want to focus on behavioral practices rather than plugging different courses or programs for non-traditional learners. However, I feel it’s worth mentioning some potential options quickly. Bootcamps, in my opinion, are a great option. I attended the Flatiron School and could not have been happier with my experience. There are a ton of bootcamps out there with a wide variety of schedules and pricing plans. If you are unable to commit to a bootcamp, there are great online learning resources and courses that allow you to move at your own pace. I have taken courses on both Udemy and Mosh, and both have been excellent! In the video below, you can see more options for low cost or totally free learning opportunities.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I want to provide some behavioral practices that I found helpful during my transition into the industry and even today in my day-to-day life as an engineer.

Embrace learning

The first practice is quite frankly a must if you plan to be in this industry for the long haul: find joy in learning! Software is continually evolving and so must your skillset. You are never going to “know everything.” I cannot tell you how many engineers, with decades of experience, have told me that they continue to learn every day. Having a mentality of “It’s so exciting getting to work with a new language” instead of “I’m never going to be able to keep up, i’ve never worked with this new language!” will go a very long way in keeping you engaged and enthused.

Be patient

With being enthusiastic about learning, you also need to be patient with yourself! You are switching careers. Of course there are going to be moments of uncertainty. It bears repeating, you are never going to know everything.

Celebrate wins

Lastly, you must celebrate your wins, no matter how small! Writing your first test is worthy of celebration. Building your first API is worthy of celebration. Making your own personal Github repo is worthy of celebration. Your projects and your code will never be finalized, they will just continue to evolve. Celebrate the evolutions!

You are about to experience a wide range of emotions during your software engineering journey. It is not an easy decision you have made, and it will certainly be challenging at times. But if you are passionate about learning and can maintain a positive attitude during the challenging times, I can assure that you will be rewarded. Enjoy the ride and best of luck on your journey!

If you are an Arlington, VA, resident interested in exploring a career in software development, learn more about the Arlington Talent Pilot Program.

 

will.drougas@exelaration.com

Will is a Full Stack Developer based in Washington, D.C. He earned his Masters of Education from the University of Virginia in 2018 and has brought his passion for mentoring and teaching to Exelaration since joining in November 2021. Will enjoys spending his free time outdoors either golfing, playing tennis, hiking, or just exploring D.C.

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