IT is a booming business, but that doesn’t mean everyone who’s drawn to it will become a great developer. Many students sign up for an IT education for the wrong reasons. I've had classmates who enrolled in IT-related degree programs because they liked gaming or working with computers. Maybe they created a website for a neighbor or relative with a small business and thought, "I could do this for a living.”  Yes, these are good indicators of an interest in IT, but these things alone are not enough to guarantee you'll become a great developer. There are three key ingredients you need to become a great developer.

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1 - Passion

Too often people go into IT because they like gaming, or they know there are a lot of jobs. But how can you ever excel as a developer if the technology isn’t your passion? To be more than average, you need to get excited about the latest framework or language. From a young age, I was interested in how things worked, often making my dad angry because I had disassembled yet another electrical appliance. Technology has always been my biggest passion and it's this passion that helps me create the best possible solution for the customer.

At Xebia, a lot of passionate people create an inspiring environment. Everyone helps each other gain the knowledge they seek and strives to achieve their greatest potential. A great developer is a person who has a genuine passion for technology.
Even outside of work, I’m always searching for a new technological challenge. My latest one is customizing my motorcycle. I started disassembling it without any prior knowledge because I wanted to clean the carburetors and air filters, customize the fenders and give the rims a beautiful color.  Lucky for me, I live in the 21st century where Google provides all the information I need. A willingness to learn to achieve your goals is a sign of real passion.

 

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2 - Continuous improvement

When I received my diploma, I felt a huge relief, 'No more studying!' I thought.  I can only laugh at that naivety now. The world of software development changes so fast you need to constantly learn new things every day.

If you want to become a better developer and stand out in the crowd, make sure you stay up to date in your area of expertise. Join networks where you can share knowledge, such as Meetups, conferences and open source communities. Get your company's support in your continuous quest to improve your skills and expertise.

When I first joined Xebia, a whole new world opened up for me. I knew there were conferences about programming languages and the latest tech but I had never visited one. Unlike Xebia, my former employers didn't allow the time or provide the financing.  Xebia also introduced me to the concept of Meetups-- regular, face-to-face gatherings formed around a common interest, goal, or cause.  These have allowed me to learn and grow through presentations and shared knowledge with other passionate developers.

Xebia also hosts a knowledge sharing event (XKE) every other Tuesday evening. At these XKEs, colleagues present and share knowledge on a range of subjects, like Javascript, Go, Scala, Scrum, and more.

XKEs are an excellent way to learn from and get to know colleagues. I’m also involved in organizing a future learning opportunity, the NG NL conference. This year's edition focuses on Angular 2.

 

3 - Involvement

The time when programmers sat in desolated spaces producing endless code to solve a manager’s proposed problems are over. Whether you are working for a product or a service-oriented company, you should get involved with its goals. What is the company trying to achieve? How can you help it achieve it? Often, companies have ideas and plans and they only want you to build them. But a company shouldn't tell us how and what to build when we are the experts. If you think things should be different, offer your advice on how it could be better. If it’s a good company with the right people, they’ll respect you for your input. If they don’t, maybe you’re not working for the right company. Involvement with the enterprise, and with user testing, helps you grow as a developer. Not only will you learn why you are making the software, but you’ll also see how customers interact with what you and your team create.

A company has goals, but you should have your own. For each project you do or for each new functionality you create, think about how it fits with your personal goals. What are you going to learn in the process? Try to understand why you are doing the project or implementing a piece of functionality. Do you agree with the rationale and decisions?

Passion, improvement, and involvement; these three ingredients are what make good developers great. They are people who are passionate about their field of expertise and technology in general. They constantly look for ways to improve both their tech and soft skills. And, they get involved in the project or product, and search for new ways to make it a success.