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Fake It Till You Make It Doesn’t Work for Software Developers

You don’t know everything and it’s OK. Acknowledge it and roll with it — my best strategy on how to rock in a programming career from day one.

*** For more strategies watch my video here: https://youtu.be/O3hr94Hcak4 ***

Imposter syndrome very often haunts software developers. Why? This could be correlated to the constant and fast-paced changes that occur in emerging software technologies or education systems that focus on theory instead of preparing students for the professional world. It comes to no surprise that most Junior Developers are lacking confidence. Are you one of them?

Have you ever heard: “Fake it till you make it”?

When you’re starting your career it might be tempting to follow that popular advice. Except that it won’t work in our field. In programming the lack of skill will show in your code, so even if smart-assing your way through the interview somehow worked, you’re gonna suffer Imposter Syndrome at that particular job. And why suffer if you can strive?

Here’s my strategy: Acknowledge it and roll with it. It’s OK to not know everything.

Acknowledge it and roll with it

What do I mean by that? As Software Developers we use certain programming languages, tools, and technologies that are constantly changing. At times as fast as just in a couple of days. It feels like new languages emerge on a quarterly basis! It becomes a fun challenge trying to keep up.

You don’t know them all… and it’s OK. Nobody does. Just acknowledge it and roll with it. What matters is the willingness to learn and, how I like to call it, knowledge access time.

Access time

If you know literally nothing about programming, your access time is super crazy long, cause the first thing you would need to do to solve a problem would be to learn programming.

The more senior of a developer you are the shorter your access time is. The best ones of us just intuitively know things (don’t worry if you’re not there yet, that comes with experience).

The more junior you are the longer your access time is. In other words, the information you need is not in your head, and so you need to find it, but you know where to look for it. There are different ways of finding it, like googling or asking someone with more experience.

Senior software devs have short access time to information, because the information is very often in their heads, so they can just think about the problem, and BAM!.. the answer just comes to them in seconds. For example, if they need to write a for loop or a sorting algorithm, they just sit down and write it, no need to google anything.

My first programming interview

I clearly remember my first programming job interview. Everything was going smooth until I got a technical question which left me stunned. I had no idea how to answer. During this type of situation people typically do one of these two things: (1) say: I don’t know. Period. Or (2) start inventing things trying to sound smart, but what they say is just random tech words glued together.

Here’s what I did: I told the interviewers that I didn’t know the right answer from the top of my head, but here’s how I would go about solving the problem. How I would go about finding the information necessary. I mentioned that most likely I would find some answers on StackOverflow and then I would ask more experienced peers that work with me, to compare two or three best solutions and then just implement it.

I landed the job. Even though I didn’t know. I just acknowledged it and rolled with it.

As I later learned from my recruiter they loved that answer because even though I didn’t know the answer right away I knew where to look for it and how to find it. My access time wasn’t seconds, but it wasn’t super crazy long either because I knew exactly where to look for answers.

TL;DR

Programming is about problem-solving. You won’t always know the answer right away and that’s OK, as long as you know where to look for it and how to find it. Place your focus on solving the problem, being OK with not knowing everything. Just acknowledge it and roll with it. And the more problems you solve, the shorter your access time will be.

Work with me!

If you feel like the Imposter Syndrome is haunting you, let’s hop on a call and see how a tough-love career coach like me, could help an awesome developer like you, find your confidence: www.themindfuldev.com/get-in-touch .

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