Staying Current in our profession is a very difficult thing to do. It is however essential. I used to know this guy who always said
“Be prepared is a boy scout marching song“
Well, in order to be prepared, you first need to be up to date.
State of the art… in 1978
In 1978 Porsche released a commercial for the 911. What an awesome machine…. in 1978. The truth be told, it is still an awesome car, but the fact is that there are better, faster more luxurious 911’s in the market right now. The same is true about your skills as a programmer. While you might be hot stuff today, by next month you might be… well, a bit outdated. We as a human race live in exponential times. So as a programmer, you have to adapt to the changing way of the industry we work in.
If you never buy books on programming in your specific field of expertise, you are on your way to an abrupt end. When Visual Studio 2015 was released and the .NET Framework 4.6 announced, did you make an effort to read up about the new features available? Do you know about the nice new C# 6.0 features? Okay, let me step back a bit. Do you know what Generics (C# v 2.0) are? Have you worked with LINQ (C# v 3.0)? Do you know that you can now use Optional Parameters in C# 4.0? If you want to brush up or if you are starting out with C#, check out my Programming Cookbook on C#.
Well I really hope for your sake that you are going
“Tell me something new”
If not, you should have alarm bells going off all around you right now. Do you still remember where you were in 1998? That was the year I got my first Tattoo. It was also the year that:
- Paula Jones accused the then U.S. President Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.
- The Unabomber (Theodore Kaczynski) went to jail forever.
- Google, Inc. is founded in Menlo Park, California, by Stanford University Ph.D. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
- Sky Digital Satellite Television launches in the UK.
- Microsoft releases Windows 98 (First Edition).
- The Galaxy IV communications satellite fails, leaving 80–90% of the world’s pagers without service.
- The first XML specification is released.
- The movies Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, Deep Impact and Lethal Weapon 4 were hits.
It also happened to be the year that VB6 was released. I know that many developers evolved as VB did, with most of them calling Visual Basic .NET their language of choice. Even more telling, I know of other developers who only know VB6. If you are one of them, you better make a plan. I started with Visual Basic.NET on the framework 1.1. These days I do more C# programming than anything else, but I had to evolve. You can take this even further if you like. If you are a .NET developer, do you only know .NET? How about learning a bit of Objective-C, Swift or Java.
You need to continually make yourself marketable by forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and learning new skills or languages. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut, you need to break out of that rut as quickly as possible. You must realize that you need to avoid becoming a byproduct of the fast paced industry we work in. At all costs, avoid becoming obsolete. Keep up to date with the latest trends. If you don’t know how:
- Subscribe to programming blogs
- Check out The Daily Six Pack
- Join Twitter and follow programmers, technologists and other leaders in your field
- Buy a new programming book and learn from it.
John Sonmez from Simple Programmer has an excellent course on How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer. I reviewed John’s course which you can read here too. If you leave it till it is too late, you will have a bigger task ahead of you.
Ref: Lee Hecht Harrison
Please note that this article was updated 19 November 2016