Why Challenging What-Is Will Make You a Better Software Engineer

In technology, innovation is the name of the game. If you aren’t evolving then you’re dying; that’s the mindset of many in the Texas technology sector, anyhow. But when it comes to evolution and growth, it’s not always clear what exactly constitutes the “right” path.

Just because something could change doesn’t always mean it should. Change for the sake of change without some foundational improvement to the overall infrastructure as a whole is frivolous. We see this all too often in technology boardrooms and video chats—developers seeking acknowledgment by suggesting changes that will work but may more be addressing symptoms than causes.

When it comes to improving as a software engineer, we’ve compiled much of the advice we’ve given and received over 30+ years working with and for software engineers in the Texas technology sector.

Here’s what we learned…

Great Software Engineers Observe and Automate

Keeping a log book of what you’re working on and the processes that you’re executing throughout the day can be an incredibly useful tool for reflection. Often, one thing we see separating novice software engineers from their more seasoned counterparts is the ability to properly assess what tasks have become redundant in their day-to-day.

Superious software engineers keep track of every little task they perform throughout a day and then analyze for redundancy. When applicable, they then automate anything that can be bundled into a process. This can include complicated tasks run within your software environment, but also manifests in things like developing and programming keyboard shortcuts and commands.

Keen Observation is the Key to Effective Innovation

Innovation never comes from the middle, it works its way in from the periphery. Software engineers looking to make waves in their niche must learn to see more clearly what’s happening right in front of them without becoming indoctrinated by the “way it’s always been done.”

Innovation in software can often look like a cruise ship trying to make a turn. For the most part, change happens slowly and deliberately. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t ample opportunity available to software engineers in speedboats on exploration missions. And towboats can improve the efficacy of any major shift in technology.

The key to becoming an asset to a major shift in thinking around some technological innovation is in setting enough time aside to be wrong about things in an environment that has minimal consequences. Software engineers who give themselves time, every single day, to just daydream about the projects and technology niches they are working on are the ones who often land on the biggest breakthroughs. It’s important to notice what’s happening on the big ship, but be willing to go outside of those comfort zone on your own exploratory trips.

Don’t Fear Asking Stupid Questions

In many technology circles, an unhealthy peer-pressure can become all too apparent. It may not manifest as direct language or cult-like behavior, but rather, shows up in subtle ways—an eye roll, glazing over comments, deliberately holding back information or details.

To become an innovative software engineer it’s important to find the courage that lives deep within and let any fear of ridicule burn itself out. The innovators are always scowled at and even if your question isn’t leading to innovation, it’s still a question that you needs answering in order to grow your understanding of your work.

We see engineering teams in companies all over Texas and a common assessment is that engineers are not given the proper avenues to elevate questions to someone who can provide a valuable answer. When we encourage the software engineers we represent to ask questions, no matter how stupid the question might feel, an interesting thing happens—those software engineers become a more integral part of the team. They are taken notice of by managers that in the past may have left them to their own devices and senior staff and programmers take an interest in their curiosity.

If you’re a curious software engineer seeking new, innovative opportunities in Texas, we’d love to chat with you. Start by answering a few questions about where you see your career trajectory and we’ll be in touch!

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