How To Level Up You Coding Skills For .NET Web Developers

When you start out coding, you'll very likely feel like a fraud on a regular basis.  Landing your first development job is the easy part, when you turn up to work people will expect you to start to delivering work, however, the more projects you work on, the more you start to appreciate just how much you still need to learn and it's very easy to start feeling overwhelmed by this fact.

If the start of your career was anything like mine, you'll have experienced some (or all) of these statements, you've sat in meetings where the topic will go over your head, people will ask to do things that you'll have no idea what to do, it will be very common for you to sit in front of your screen pulling your hair out as you just can't figure out how to solve something, you constantly need to ask for help, you sometimes question if this was the right career path for you.

Take building a C# based website for example, it's all very good knowing the syntax of the languages, but do you understand SOLID principles, do you know all the GOF patterns, can you unit test your code, do you know how dependency injection works, can you create your own Nuget package, can you set up the company's continuous deployment life-cycle, do you know web-forms/MVC/core, do you understand how to make your pages load quickly, do you understand Javascript, JQuery, Knockout, Angular or React, do you know Umbraco/Episerver/Sitecore, HTML, CSS, node.js, what JSLint does, coding standards, ReSharper, the list goes on and on.

One thing we should clear up first, at the beginning of your career, it's impossible to know everything and for reference, after 12 years of using ASP.NET you'll still only know a small chunk of it. 

When I started out, I thought that because I didn't have this encyclopedic knowledge of every language and framework I was using, I didn't deserve to get paid as much as some of my other colleagues.  Some of the people I worked with just seemed to get things like dependency injection but for me, it was all Gobbledygook.

I get weekly emails from people who want to learn Epierver/Umbraco who get overwhelmed or stuck just trying to keep-up and learn everything they need in order to build a website.  Most developers who email me seem to be constantly stressed, as their work is expecting them to build and deliver a website within a very small timeframe and there's a whole bunch of stuff that they still don't get.  

Here's a news flash, I've been in software development for more than 12 years now and there has NEVER been a time when I haven't needed to learn something, or there was a project where I knew everything I needed to at the beginning.

If you're stressing today that there's something you need to learn, get used to it, as you'll keep bumping into this issue until the day you retire.  It took me a while to grasp this concept but after I did, my career took a massive uphill climb.  As a developer, what matters most in your career is NOT encyclopedic knowledge of everything (that is what Google is for), to advance in your career, you have to learn how to become good at problem-solving, learning effectively and being able to communicate effectively with your team.  

Sounds smashing...  where do I even start?"

If anything above feels familiar to you, then my advice to you is to start thinking differently about your career. Instead of just focusing on solving the problem at hand, or, learning the ins and outs of every framework ever built, focus on learning an analytical problem-solving skill and focus on how to learn things in an effective way.

Over the next few articles in this series, I'll give you some practical and actionable advice to help you level up your software development skills to make you more effective at work.

If you're anything like me, you might be wondering why bother?  I mean if you've got a job and it's paying you a salary, why should you care about leveling up your skills?  The answer is simple; if you don't master these skills, you will lose out on tens of thousands of pounds throughout your career.  These skills are the things that can allow you to go to Vegas, or Orlando every year compared to a 'nice' weekend in a caravan somewhere up the road.  

The main difference between a shit developer and a rockstar isn't in 95% of the cases that the rock star knows everything in the universe possible, the rock star has simply learned how to solve problems quickly and more effectively than the other people in the team.  It really is that simple.

So you might be thinking this all sounds great, how can I get in on this action, well the good news is that the fun starts tomorrow.

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Jon D Jones

Software Architect, Programmer and Technologist Jon Jones is founder and CEO of London-based tech firm Digital Prompt. He has been working in the field for nearly a decade, specializing in new technologies and technical solution research in the web business. A passionate blogger by heart , speaker & consultant from England.. always on the hunt for the next challenge

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