Technology

How to Become a Better Developer: A Cheat Sheet for Women in Tech

We need more women in tech. For this to happen, women need all the support they can get. Here are hacks for women to learn software development skills.

Gender diversity in tech is struggling. If you’re a woman of color, you make up less than 5 percent of employees in computing jobs.

Low representation for women can mean having to work harder to prove their capabilities. Even if you already have a computer science degree, the quest to learn software development is neverending. 

Check out these tips on becoming a better software developer to improve your career opportunities.

Join the Local Tech Community

Networking is not only critical to improving your skills as a software developer, but it’s also one of the top ways to expand your career options. Most major markets have a local tech community you can find through Meetups.

In smaller markets, you might have to rely on virtual connections to grow your professional network. During meetup events, you’ll have the chance to find other developers who have experience in the career path you want to follow.

Finding other women during these events might be a challenge but that doesn’t mean you won’t find a support system. Being active in a community of like-minded professionals will help you form relationships with developers of all backgrounds.

As you navigate challenges in your career or with specific projects at work, the local tech community can provide guidance on new resources, classes, and mentorship opportunities. You are far less likely to get discouraged when you are just starting out if you have a support system in place. 

Supplement Your Degree

Computer science degrees are a gift and a curse. Having a bachelor’s degree can bring a competitive advantage when applying to software development jobs but the information you learn in school is often outdated by the time you start working. 

This is because technology changes faster than most computer science programs can keep up with. Keep up with growing trends through online coding boot camps offered through LinkedIn Learning or Udemy.

Setting up Udemy is easy from a connected TV or computer allowing you to learn new skills while cleaning or making dinner. 

Online classes are a great way to keep up with software updates and programming languages. There are also apps available to learn specialty languages like Swift.

For example, the Unwrap app is available for free for anyone looking to learn mobile app development in just 100 days. The program guides you through daily instructional videos that each end with a quiz to test how much you learned. 

Get Familiar with GitHub

Use other people’s code to learn more about software development. This is especially important if you haven’t done any coding in a professional environment yet.

Looking at other people’s code shows the real-world application of the theories and concepts you learned in school. When learning new programming languages, it’s one of the fastest ways to comprehend language syntax. 

The most popular place online to view code from more experienced developers is GitHub. Around 40 million developers use GitHub to post and review the code of other software developers.

It’s a great place to learn what exceptional software development looks like and practice implementing these same best practices on your own projects. You won’t need more than a free GitHub account unless you plan to host your own software packages on the site.

Paid accounts are helpful once you’ve gained more experience because you can specify who gets to collaborate with you on the coding process. Upgraded accounts also allow you to limit who reviews your code. 

Become a Competitive Programmer

Programming is like training for a sport. Daily practice will only increase your speed and agility when it comes to solving software development problems later on.

Once you’ve learned a programming language, train for potential problems that will arise on the job by becoming a competitive programmer. Competitive programmers work to solve development challenges in online competitions. 

Sites like Codechef, Topcoder, and Hackerrank are all great places to get started. The more problems you solve, the more your confidence will increase.

Use this confidence when you begin interviewing for new career opportunities. It’ll give you talking points for how you approach specific programming languages and demonstrates your work ethic. 

Learn Software Development Best Practices

Stack Overflow is a great place to learn software development best practices. The site is a question and answer forum for software developers looking to solve code or other career problems.

Early in your career, it is not uncommon to not have specific questions of your own to offer in a forum. The benefit of reading other people’s questions and the answers provided is getting a peek into your coding future.

Developers commonly turn to Stack Overflow when they get stuck. That means the answers they receive will be from expert-level developers who can offer detailed coaching on how to improve the coding process. 

Build an App

Publishing your own app is a great way to practice your coding skills before you get a job. Whether a native mobile app or progressive web app, building your own software provides potential employers with a visual sample of your work.

Completing your own project shows you have the work ethic and dedication to see projects through. If your app is useful, you might even earn additional income by releasing it in the desktop or mobile app stores. 

Finding Your Niche

With so many new programming languages sprouting up, it might seem tough to learn software development. But the online community of developers is fast-growing providing you with an automatic support system for your biggest coding challenges.

Publications like Reinvented feature women doing exceptional work in the tech field. Get connected with these virtual communities to keep building your confidence as you increase your software development skills.

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