The Five Best Workplace Habits of Software Engineers

Software Engineering is a career on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates the employment growth for various occupations, projects a startling 24% employment growth for software engineers between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than the 7% average for other occupations. It’s clear Software Engineering is a desirable career, but what separates the good software engineers from the great ones?

Here we list five of the best workplace habits of software engineers.

1. Broken Windows – and why you must fix them

Medium mentions the ‘Broken Windows Theory’, which states that ‘if there is a disorder in a neighbourhood for a substantial period of time, the mess will only get worse. If an abandoned building is left with a broken window, there’s a much higher chance that the building will be vandalised and more broken windows will appear.’ The best software engineer fixes things related to the code that might not be directly connected to the task at hand – for example, a poorly-named variable or an API shortcoming. This excellent workplace habit of software engineers sets the tone for any project.

2. Version Control

Sonio Recio, a software engineer writing for HackerNoon, notes the importance of version control, which is the management of changes to software. ‘Using git,’ he says, ‘was the most important discovery I explored in my entire life as a Software Engineer. It saved me a lot of headaches.’

Git is a version control system for tracking changes in computer files and co-ordinating work on those files among a number of people. It’s mostly used for managing the source code in software development. It’s free and open source.

Two added advantages of version control include: (1) Remote work becomes easier and more successful. If you’re working across different time zones, monitoring changes from different team members is vital and (2) You can display your opensource projects on Github for others to view. This will give you a chance for collaboration and improvement.

3. Regular Upgrades

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’. When it comes to writing code, this certainly holds true. The same problems can be solved in different ways with different programming languages. Learning multiple languages helps you expand your thinking and enlarge your mindset. The best software engineers learn one or more new languages every year. If you don’t know Python, this might be a good language to learn next – check out reasons to learn Python in 2018.

4. Find And Be A Mentor

There are things to be learnt from both being and having a mentor. The benefits of mentoring include:

  • Learning to listen actively rather than passively.
  • Increasing one’s sense of self-worth through sharing knowledge
  • Strengthening interpersonal relationship skills.
  • Re-energising.
  • Greater personal satisfaction.

If you’re looking for a mentor, find someone you aspire to be like and someone you respect. Remember to ask your mentor to give you constructive feedback and understand that feedback can sometimes be hard to hear. Remain open-minded. Your mentor should push you and teach you new ways of thinking about software engineering projects.

5. Coding As A Last Resort

This may sound counter-intuitive, but the best workplace habits of software engineers don’t automatically translate to coding your way out of every problem. Remember: every time you write a line of code, you introduce the possibility of a potential point of failure in the system. Of course when faced with a problem, software engineers are tempted to open their favourite Integrated Development Environment and start hammering away. But for the best software engineers, writing code is a last resort. Instead, a great software engineer needs to get to grips with the business problem and when he or she has a good handle on it, then the engineer must try to leverage third party libraries or open source solutions.

In conclusion, we’ve mentioned the five best workplace habits of software engineers. You may have some of your own. Add them to the comments below.

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