The Most Underrated Skill Every Developer Needs

Imagine you are a student of computer science. And now imagine you are so lucky, that you get a job as a working student where you are able to improve your coding skills and the code you write is even used in production.

Actual customers, real users, might use features you have implemented.

I will never forget the moment I realized that for the very first time. Sitting there in the office, with no professional experience, and suddenly it struck me: “Oh my gosh, in the past every line of code I have written was either for exercises or any learning purposes. Now real customers will use my code. I’m so lucky! This is amazing!”

Yes, it is. If you are that lucky that you are getting paid to learn how to work as a professional software developer, you should never take this for granted.

You should feel lots of gratitude and you really owe your co-workers.

That’s why there is one thing, that you should really practice while working with them.

And this thing is: Communication.


Now, what do I mean by that?

When you’re working as a student, chances are, you are not in the office every single day. Even if you’re working remotely, you might not do it every day.

This means, that you might not be available every day.

If you’re now working on tasks that are more or less important for the next feature, please communicate with the team what you were doing and how far you have come. You have a big responsibility.

I see it so often.

Full-time people working on important tasks so that the whole team can make this sprint.

Then there’s this one thing they want to give to the working student or any person that is not in the office every day.

These tasks might not be that urgent that the team needs it the next day, but there might be a situation where the team needs to know how far this particular task is done. If nobody knows, the task will probably even be implemented twice. And this really sucks.

Situations like that can be extremely frustrating and also expensive.

You have to ask around if anybody knows the progress of this task. You have to discuss if it’s okay to still do it now, although there is the risk of doing it twice. You might try to reach the part-time co-worker but with no success. You might have to find different solutions. And you might even get pretty angry. All in all, it’s just not respectful behavior and people will try to give you work that is not that important in the future.

If that’s what you want, great. If not, change.

Okay, I might be exaggerating this whole topic, but by my own experience and by lessons learned from fellow developers, this really is an importing subject to take into account.

If you’re not able to communicate properly with your team, you might even lose your job eventually.

And, seriously, it’s not that hard to write an email or a Slack message to the whole team or simply use your Scrum board, Team-Foundation-Server, Jira, Trello or whatever you’re working with.

Please practice that. In the evening, when you’re done with your code, push it and tell everybody what you did before you’re unavailable for several hours or days again. The commit messages in git might not be sufficient every time.

And to get this straight, it’s not only about working students, interns or part-time workers. Even full-time people can lack this skill. But at least most of us have our daily stand-up, that helps a lot in these situations.

Sorry for this short rant, but this had to be said. Thanks.

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