I was thinking about how far my developer constituents and I have come since we collectively left college. There are a lot of things that we’ve learned; some of which would have been easy to keep in mind had someone told us before we graduated!

I proposed this to question to the Reddit and Stack Overflow community and here’s what we came up with together.

  • You don’t know as much as you think you do. Somehow, college students think they know a lot more than they do (or maybe that was just me). Likewise, they think they can do more than they actually can. You should fairly assess your skills.
  • You will never know as much as you think you do. Even after a few years in the business, you will continue to encounter people who know more than you do about your personal area of expertise. Don’t worry about it and keep studying and learning.
  • QA people are not out to get you. Humans introduce bugs to code. It’s not (nescessarily) a personal reflection on you and your skills if your code has a bug and it’s caught by the QA/testing team.
  • Listen to your senior (developers). They are not actually fuddy duddies who don’t know about the new L337 hax in Ruby (okay, sometimes they are, but still…). They have a wealth of knowledge that you can learn from and it’s in your best interest to do so.
  • You will most likely not be doing what you want to for a while. This is mostly true in the corporate world — startups are a different matter. Also, this is due to more than just the economy, man! Junior devs need to earn their keep, so to speak. Everyone wants to be lead dev on the next project and there are a lot of people in line ahead of you!
  • For every elite developer there are 100 average developers. Joel Spolsky, I’m looking at you. Somehow this concept of ninja coders has really ingrained itself in our culture. While I encourage you to be the best you can be don’t be disappointed if people aren’t writing blog posts about you in the near future.
  • You will never have learned enough languages or architectures or paradigms or buzzwords. Because once you think you know it all, someone will invent a new (insert favorite technology here) and you will be out of touch again.
  • You will be that old fuddy duddy soon enough. Cut him/her some slack and assume that once upon a time, he/she was in your shoes.

I think this is a pretty good start. Like I said before, this could have been helpful to know before I left the safe haven of college.