3 Practical Tips for Creating an Impact as a Software Engineer

3 Practical Tips for Creating an Impact as a Software Engineer

Personal Development, 27 Dec 2016

I often encounter developers who dedicate a lot of their time trying to write flawless code, regardless of the importance of the piece of code they are handling: it can be code which nobody uses yet (most common), it can be an internal script and it can also be a rare case which may happen once in every 100,000 times.

This behaviour is derived from the false belief that the success level of a certain task is a direct result of the code’s quality. As I learned from my experience, the success level of a task is resulted from the functionality of the software and the impact that it creates. Successful software engineers write functional software and impact others by their personality and code. By continuously focusing on functionality and impact, you may be able to perform the task faster and get more appreciation for your work.

Below are 3 practical tips in order to create an impact as a software engineer.

Have a Vision

It’s very easy to lean on your managers' vision and align yourself with them. But in order to have an impact you should establish your individuality. Your vision may not be accepted as a whole, but the communication you’ll have due to this vision will be more productive. Where do you see the organisation’s systems a year from now? Which way would you like to take it? In the case of getting a task and being told how to solve it - what is your solution? What would you do differently and why?

The other day I had a conversation with my boss: he wanted to keep a configuration file locally while I thought that the program should constantly request this information from a service. We ended up fetching the configuration file from the service on initialization. Although my opinion was not accepted as a whole, the final solution was influenced by it.

Be Authentic

Create your uniqueness and influence others by using your genuine character.

A few years ago my boss and I deployed a project to production. After the deployment ended, we discovered a bug which required an immediate fix.

The most common solution to the bug was to revert to the old version. Thing is, the revert process was complex and required changes in the databases using a db management system along with the code. My boss and his boss decided to revert.

It was 17:30 in the evening. We were tired. A mistake in the revert process will get us into even bigger troubles. Boldly I approached my boss’s boss and told him exactly that: “it’s 17:30 in the evening, we are tired, I don’t think we can currently handle another complex procedure such as the revert”. “So what exactly are you suggesting?” - he replied. “I suggest to apply the database changes manually. It’s simple, and we can be sure to avoid mistakes” - I answered. The room remained silent. Nobody in the room even thought of applying the database changes manually, not to mention saying to the big boss that we are tired since both are considered “unprofessional”. “OK, we’ll go for it” - he replied. Quickly I applied the changes to the database and verified that the bug was indeed resolved.

The next day I got a letter of appreciation for my leadership skills. But all I truly did was being authentic and reflect the reality as is to my superiors.

3 Practical Tips for Creating an Impact as a Software Engineer Click To Tweet

Keep Bringing Something New

A workplace is a place where you learn and teach others. If everything you know is from work your influence is lessened. Always look for information sources outside of work and enrich your knowledge both technically and personally.

To sum up, creating an impact is a key component of being a successful software engineer. Therefore, you must focus on developing your personal skills in addition to the technical skills. In order to create an impact have a vision, be authentic and keep enriching your knowledge sources outside of working hours.