5 Healthy Habits of Growing Jr. Engineers

While the following habits may fit into any disciplined pursuit, I’ve found them especially useful on my journey as a Software Engineer. Your mileage may vary.

1) Be Consistent. 

Anything can be accomplished when broken down into small enough chunks and executed on over time.

When I first began writing software, I was committed to writing something 7 days a week. I put in 3 hours before work each day, almost a full day on Saturday, plus a few hours on Sunday. This equated to an roughly 25 extra hours each week. Over the last 5 years, that’s an additional 3 work years of experience. Small things over time compound.

2) Take Risks. 

Pushing your limits is key to continued growth. As your skills increase, the temptation to ‘stick with what you know’ will surely increase. If your hesitant or uncertain about something, don’t shy away; lean in.

In the early days, that meant every project included 20–30% of things I had never done before. It’s not the recommended approach to leveling up, but it provided the right amount of pressure.

3) Ask Questions. 

You aren’t expected to know everything. When progress stalls, asking questions can kickstart your problem solving and often leave you with a fresh perspective.

As I’ve become accustom to asking more questions, the number of people willing to help has shocked me. Offering to buy someone a cup of coffee and asking them a few questions can be the start of a great friendship.

4) Learn Daily. 

It should never stop. The most talented engineers are lifetime learners in software and beyond. When you take into account the vast amount of information in websites, books, podcasts, etc there is wisdom and insight to be learned.

For learning Ruby on Rails, I spent a lot of time on RailsCasts, W3Schools, and Stackoverflow. No source was too amateur and no bit of knowledge too trivial. If you’re not sure where to start, the EOFire podcast delivers quality and concise interviews with successful entreprenuers every day.

5) Find a Mentor. 

An experienced person willing to weigh-in from time to time is priceless. Don’t ask them ‘will you mentor me’, simply inquire about a few practical questions from time to time.

Early on I was stuck on the thought that mentorship was a formalized process where you met on a monthly weekly basis. In reality, mentorship is not that rigid. A trusted, experienced individual who provides insight and perspective is all that’s needed.

Start small and adjust over time.

Originally posted on Medium.

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