There’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ computer programmer, much like there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ computer program. Every coder has a different set of skills suitable for different types of projects or employers. Every coder has a unique personality, unique motivators, and unique strengths and weaknesses. But there is one common trait that every single expert (and employed) programmer in the world has…
It may sound a little vague, but stick with us. Sure, knowing the syntax of x amount of languages is useful. Having years of experience in great tech companies is definitely a plus, no matter what way you look at it. And the more attention to detail you have, the better. But none of that means you can build great code that works. Understanding the problem, understanding the solution and understanding how to get from the former to the latter does. And that’s exactly what employers want to see.
What Exactly Do we Mean by ‘Understanding’?
It’s pretty simple – but also not so simple! Understanding can be broken down into a couple of different aspects, both of which boost your employability.
Knowing the Basics.
There will always be some companies who just want a programmer to do one very specific job with a very specific skill set. But the vast majority of employers, from giant tech businesses to tiny start ups, want the same thing. And that ‘thing’ is a person who, rather than knowing everything about the hottest technology of the moment, has a clear and thorough understanding of programming fundamentals and can apply this knowledge to any programming language, and any project.
Analysing the Problem.
It doesn’t matter how efficient you are at building programs. If you don’t understand the problem you’re trying to solve, you’ll never get to the finish line. While technical know-how is obviously a very important part of any coding job, employers also demand high critical analysis skills. That means the seeing both the full scope of the problem itself from several different perspectives, and all of the possible routes to a solution.
Combining the two into a well rounded ‘understanding’ whole is the key to becoming a good programmer, and more importantly, an employed one!
How Can You Master ‘Understanding’?
Pretty easily, actually. For a start, focus more on getting things right instead of getting them done fast. Spend more time thinking through your programs before you start building them; your goal should not be making something that works, it should be solving a problem by making something that works WELL. Plus, if you master the fundamentals of programming, you’ll never need to ‘learn’ a language ever again; all you’ll need to know is its basic syntax to get coding, which is only ever a quick google search away.
After that, it’s just a matter of practice makes perfect. Try to find different approaches to projects you’re working on, and explore different paths to the finished product. Even if it’s the stupidest way to get something done, do it anyway – you’ll learn more, we promise! But most importantly, tackle a wide variety of projects, either just for fun or with a set goal in mind. The more you code, the better you’ll be at understanding.
What About Other Skills?
Of course, you need to master some other areas of expertise to get your foot in some tech company’s door. It goes without saying you’ll need hands-on coding experience and a familiarity with at least one language (preferably one that can easily segue into other similar languages if needed, for example, Java and C).
Every single employer who wants to hire a programmer will also look for soft skills. That’s the likes of good communication and interpersonal abilities, presentation, leadership, efficiency, and of course, the ever ubiquitous attention to detail. The days of ‘computer nerds’ who spend their lives in front of a screen without interacting with people face to face is no more – and that’s a good thing!
While we may not be able to help you with becoming prince charming, we can definitely start you on the path to becoming a more well rounded programmer. Check out our selection of programming course bundles here: http://stoneriverelearning.com/courses/category/Course%2520Bundles