10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Became a Full-Stack Engineer
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to work in tech, you know that it’s a fast-changing industry. The pace of advancement is so rapid that it can feel like you need a PhD just to keep your skills up-to-date. When I first became a full-stack engineer, I was thrown into the deep end with little guidance. Yes, there are plenty of great resources available online, but as an entry-level engineer, I wasn’t aware of many of them at the time. If you’re on the cusp of becoming a full-stack engineer yourself, or aspire to become one in the future, read on for some sage advice and insights from my personal experience:
Know your worth
A lot of people enter the tech field because they see it as a ticket to a higher salary, and that’s a perfectly valid motivation. However, there are a lot of people who are under the impression that learning to code is easy to do, and they’ll be able to get a higher salary and be a “rock star” in the company. That’s simply not true. What you need to understand is that this is a very competitive and highly skilled industry, and it takes years of experience to become a rock star full-stack engineer. You will be expected to know many different types of coding languages, have in-depth knowledge of the different computer languages, be familiar with the various coding platforms, and be able to work with different types of software. All of this takes years of experience to obtain.
Network and practice for interviews
When you’re just starting out, you may not be in a position to interview for a job, but you should be networking with other engineers and tech professionals. This can help you gain valuable insight into what it’s like to work in the industry, get advice from the people who are currently working in tech, and create a mentor-relationship with your peers. As you network, be sure to keep notes about the people you speak with. This can help you to follow up with them later on, and it also gives you a great record of the people who are willing to help you out. When you do interview for a job, practice is key. Have a friend or colleague act as your interviewer, and try to replicate the experience as closely as possible. If possible, record the session, and watch it afterward to see what you could improve on.
Learn to code and code to learn
As I mentioned, this is a highly competitive industry, and you’ll want to do everything in your power to give yourself a leg-up on your peers. One of the best ways to do this is to learn to code. As you learn how to code, you’ll be able to identify the different languages and which ones you prefer. You’ll also be able to see which ones you struggle with and which ones you’re naturally gifted at. Unfortunately, not every engineer who wants to learn to code has the time to invest in a full, rigorous course. That’s where coding to learn comes in.
Find a comfortable coding platform for interviews
When you’re interviewing for a job, you’ll likely have to complete a coding challenge. You’ll want to be as comfortable with the platform you’re using as possible since you don’t want any outside distractions. Before you schedule an interview, ask if they have any preferred coding platforms that you should be using. If they don’t, it’s a good idea to find out what the most common ones are so that you can practice on one you’re most comfortable with.
Stay up-to-date on the latest coding languages
This is one of the first things you should do once you have your first job as a full-stack engineer. You never know when your company might decide to switch coding languages, or when you may be asked to create code in a language that you’ve never used before. Luckily, there are tons of great websites that keep track of the latest coding languages. You can use these sites to keep yourself up-to-date on new trends, what’s trending right now, and the newest programming languages that are on the rise. By keeping up-to-date on the latest coding languages, you’ll be able to identify what languages your company is currently using, be able to create code in a language you’ve never used before, and be able to effectively manage your skills and advancement in the industry.
Take a coding course to learn Java and Python
If your company is using Java, then it’s a great idea to take a course to learn it. Not only will this help you to create code in a language that’s in high demand, it will also help you to become familiar with the coding platform. If your company is using Python, it’s a good idea to take a course to learn Python. Not only will this help you to create code in a language that’s in high demand, it will also help you to become familiar with the coding platform. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the platforms and latest languages, you’ll also be able to identify which languages you prefer. This can help you to identify the best platform for you if your company changes languages in the future.
Become proficient in one more programming language
It’s not realistic to expect that you’ll be able to become fluent in each and every language. However, if you want to become a full-stack engineer, you should aim to become fluent in a minimum of two languages. For example, if you’re currently using Java, you should aim to become fluent in Python as well. This will prepare you for future changes and give you options in the event that you’re asked to create code in a language you’ve never used before.
Becoming a full-stack engineer is a lifelong journey. You’ll never truly be done learning, and you should always have an open mind to change and adaptation. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a full-stack engineer.