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Shake the fear and call yourself a developer

“I’m a developer!”
This wasn’t a phrase that came naturally to me, even after I accepted my first development job. When someone asked what I did, the answer would have to be coaxed out of me.
Before I landed my first role, I imagined that there would be a single point that I could look back at and say, “that was the moment I became a developer”. It would be the coding equivalent of pulling the sword from the stone, and in a moment of triumph as I raised my laptop above my head I would be proclaimed a software engineer of the realm and protector of the code. The truth is, accepting a job offer would be the closest thing that I’d get to this moment.
Sword Victory Triumph image
People disagree on the point at which you truly become a developer. For some of the devs at my company it’s when you break a certain part of the codebase with a risky fix; for others it’s the moment you see your work out there in a live environment. For me, it all comes down to technical confidence.
The truth is that technical confidence doesn’t come with the job title. It took me months to feel confident having technical conversations with other developers. This was all the more exasperating when coupled with my ill conceived notion that to be a developer you must be all knowing when it comes to code, that you must be a full stack pro who can quote any syntax rule from any language from memory. As silly as it sounds I don’t think I was alone in believing that; it seems to be especially true amongst those who are new to the industry. How did I move past this, you ask? All it took was one YouTube video.
Google I/O conference hosted a talk that totally changed how I viewed the industry, and it’s still relevant today. The myth of the genius programmer is a brilliant run down of how to approach being a developer. Its main aims are to make you realise that no one knows everything, that removing your ego is healthy, and that we should embrace critique and failure as learning opportunities. The talk really
resonated with me.
Now, if I don’t understand something in a meeting, I will always speak up rather than staying quiet; if I’m given a task I don’t fully understand, I try to find ways to collaborate with others to find a solution; if I’ve done something that hasn’t worked out, I seek constructive feedback. It helped me to shake the fear of being judged and focus on evolving my skills.
So here I am, almost a year and a half on from completing the Mayden Academy, and happy to report
“I am a developer!”