Invest in yourself

Today I want to share what you can do to invest in yourself. Doing these things will help you grow as a software professional.

Buy Books
The software industry is always changing. There is always a new software package being created. To give you an example, Javascript libraries are created everyday. Some of them will be very popular while other will only see a handful of downloads.

I had the opportunity to work with Angular and Node at Verizon but I feel I need more knowledge on those subjects. To help me buy a programming book, I usually go to amazon and read the book’s review. Based on the reviews and the content of the book, I will buy the book.

In previous posts, I shared how a beginner’s book helped me learn Asp.Net. Pick a subject or programming language and buy a few books. Lately, I wanted to learn Android and bought 4 books. I’m not an expert on Android but I was able to setup my development environment and write a basic application.

Books will help you expand your knowledge. For sure, you will receive a return on investment with books.

Create a Blog
Before I started my own blog, I heard many developers give advise on how to get involved with the community. Most of them suggested creating a blog.  Scott Hanselman and John Sonmez have given this advice. Creating a blog will improve your writing skills. It will also improve your communication skills.

Ruby is a programming language that I want to learn more about. To get better at Ruby, I have written blog posts on rails, rubygems, and minitest.

Having a blog also will also open up new opportunities. It is your electronic business card. I can say that my blog was a key factor that helped me get my current job. It is a great way to show your skills. For example, if you are looking for a job as a Javascript Engineer, you can reference any blog posts that you have written about Javascript.

Join a User Group
In addition to buying books or creating your own blog, you can also join user groups in your area. Lately I’ve joined the ASP.NET community standup online. This is a weekly stand up created by the ASP.NET team to keep the community up to date on what is happening with ASP.NET. To see all of the ASP.NET standups videos,  you can go to this playlist.

If you want to join in person, search a local meetup group. There are hundreds to choose from. I usually go to the Dallas ASP.NET user group and Dallas Ruby Brigade. The point is to get involved with the community. I have learned so much from these user groups.

Conclusion
If you are serious about your career, you should invest in yourself. Buy books, read blogs, but more important is having your own voice. Create a blog and teach others. I believe learning and teaching will help you grow in your software career.