A good programmer has to stay knowledge hungry

July 23, 2017

Things change very quickly in software development. I know it myself from web development and also dev ops. Every year there is a new stack or framework that becomes more popular than the current state of the art. And usually the new framework truly is better to use and more efficient, not only a marketing push from some tech giant.

It means that as a software developer you need to be able to:

Learn new stuff fast. Without a doubt it is important to know how to learn fast and efficiently.

Be willing to learn. This is magic here. If you have this then it doesn’t matter how fast you learn. It is accepting the fact that in IT we constantly need to refresh our knowledge and that is part of our job. The degrees and years of experience are only worth anything if you are up-to-date with what is currently needed.

Just working is not enough. This is what I thought at first, if you go to work 40h week then you will passively pick up new stuff all the time. Not always true, we often keep using the same frameworks, libraries, whole stacks, because we know how to use them and they do the job. If I haven’t added anything to my production stack in the last 2 years, I am probably out dated.

Higher difficulty gets you more points

This can feel frustrating at times, but I see at least a few advantages there. As long as you are willing to learn new stuff you can try something new. This keep the year to year work from getting mundane and boring. Pair yourself with others who keep learning and a company that promotes this culture and you will have an exciting work. Secondly if you are willing to stay up to date, then it is an excellent opportunity for those who have the willpower and put in the effort to capitalize on it and stand out from the mass.

Sometimes I do wonder if I want to be in this changing environment until I grow old. Where everything changes within 5 years. Picking a job that where very little changes and the knowledge is nearly static would have been so much better. Easy cruising until I am too old. But then I remember that in the coming age of automation and AI, such simple knowledge based professions will just be replaced anyway. So maybe it is all for the better.