This guide is focused on providing junior and mid-level programmers the tools they need to excel in their careers—the journey from first full-time engineering job to earning a first promotion.
This book is primarily for individual contributors: it does not cover the broader topic of managing other junior and mid-level programmers—but engineering managers and senior engineers may still find some of the material useful for mentoring or sharing with their team members or direct reports.
New programmers. If you’re just starting to learn how to program by teaching yourself, or you’re enrolled in school or a coding bootcamp, congrats! You’re just getting started on a fun and exciting journey. While this book won’t teach you how to program, it will prepare you for what to expect when you land your first full-time programming job. There’s a lot to learn, so be patient and take things one step at a time. You got this!
Junior programmers. If you’ve already landed your first full-time programming role, nice job! You’ve proven that you can build programs and solve difficult problems, so now it’s time to focus on being a team player. You may already know some of the topics covered in this book, but it never hurts to reinforce those ideas and build good habits. You’ll be reading a lot of unfamiliar code and asking questions, so you may find those sections especially useful.
Mid-level programmers. If you’ve been working as a full-time programmer for a few years, you’re probably starting to get the hang of things. You may know your way around the codebase and be comfortable working on a team, so some of the topics covered in this book may already be second nature to you. This book will still be helpful if you use it to focus on honing those skills even further to solidify those good habits. The latter half of the book should be especially useful to mid-level programmers as you begin to make more impactful technical decisions.
Senior programmers, mentors, and managers. We all had to start somewhere in our careers, and by now, almost all of the information in this book should be familiar to senior programmers and programming managers. It’s easy to forget just how far you’ve come and how difficult it was to learn certain skills. This book offers perspective to experienced programmers and reminds them of areas they can offer assistance in when mentoring and managing junior and mid-level programmers.
What Is Covered
This book is meant to be a resource for junior and mid-level programmers on soft skills required to excel as a professional programmer. It’s meant to be your career guide as you learn to navigate the workplace, from learning the lingo and how the business operates to working as part of a team producing quality software and real value for your customers.
The book is not necessarily designed to be read from cover to cover, so feel free to skip around to different sections if a topic seems particularly relevant to you at the moment.
My goal is to help you establish a personal roadmap to guide you as you start your programming career or reach that next level of responsibility. I hope this becomes a book you revisit regularly to review your progress and recalibrate your priorities for your next career goal.
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