5 Mistakes I Made Early In My Software Development Career—And What I Would Have Done Differently

5 Mistakes I Made Early In My Software Development Career—And What I Would Have Done Differently

I have been working in Software Development for more than 5 years.

And in that time, I've gotten to do a lot of cool things:

  • Got multiple job offers from top companies before finally joining one of them

  • Gained experience in Big Data Processing before pivoting to Front-end Development

  • Became a dev lead

There isn't much I would change about my journey.

But if I could go back, here are a few of the mistakes I made early on—and what I would have done differently:

Mistake #1: Taking Too Long to Ask for Help

Back in the day, I was on a mission to prove myself. The result? Spending way too much time on a problem, afraid to admit I needed assistance. This was counterproductive because I could have spent that time further honing my skills.

If I could hop into a time machine, I'd tell my past self to troubleshoot for a maximum of 30 minutes, then go and find help.

Mistake #2: Not having work boundaries

Similarly, driven to prove my value, I accepted every request, even when I couldn't handle it. Consequently, I was overworked, overstressed, and not performing at my highest level.

If you currently resonate with this, set aside time weekly to identify your WIG (wildly important goal). Ensure its accomplishment before committing to additional tasks.

Mistake #3: Being paralyzed by impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome hit me hard, especially when I switched from Data Engineering to Front-end Development. I found myself overly self-conscious, which hindered my cognitive abilities and slowed my progress.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself: "Hey, it doesn't matter whether you belong here or not! What matters is making daily progress, giving your best effort, and reaching out for the support you need."

Mistake #4: Following bad or irrelevant advice found online

You can find fantastic advice online (like this one). However, before incorporating any recommendations, make sure they resonate with your current stage of development.

Take, for example, my experience with the infamous "code review regularly" advice. It's golden, but not when you overdo it like I did. Devoting too much time to code reviews didn't give me sufficient time to complete my tasks. This guidance was more relevant to mid- and senior-level developers.

Therefore, carefully select the advice that aligns with your current needs and journey.

Mistake #5: Solving one type of problem vs. learning how to solve different problems

Early on, I was thrilled to have projects on my plate. Little did I know that focusing too much on a single type of problem limited my growth.

So, always ensure you work on challenging and diverse projects that broaden your skill set.

Remember, we all make mistakes, and it's okay. I still ended up fine despite all of these 😅. Each misstep is a chance to learn and grow. If you've faced similar roadblocks, I'd love to hear your experiences and how you tackled them. 🚀

If you want more tips like this, don't hesitate to join on X/Twitter at _ndeyefatoudiop or Substack.