Six Traits of Great Software Developers

I’ve been working in computer software my entire professional career. When I was in high school, I really had no plans for myself after graduation. I was fortunate that a boss I had at the time advised me to go to college and study computers. This was in 1980, when personal computers were only used by electronics hobbyists. I had never even used a computer, but I didn’t know what else to do with my life, so I took that advice. It took me a couple of semesters to understand how to make computers work, but I found my personality was a good fit for a career in “the exciting new world of computer programming”.

There are many benefits to working as a software developer. It pays well, you can work in just about any city, and it usually doesn’t require heavy lifting or working outside in bad weather. But jobs should also be personally fulfilling, so when I talk with college students or job applicants, I always ask, “What about this job motivates you? Why do you want to do it?”

Over the years, I have found six general types of people who enjoy software development:

1. Some people like gadgets. I’m sure you know someone who always seems to have the latest TV, phone, game console, security cameras, home automation system… Computers are always evolving so there are always new toys to play with at work.

2. Some people are investigators. They are naturally curious. They like to know how and why things work like they do. They like to understand complex systems and sometimes challenge themselves with puzzles. Software systems can get seriously complicated, so enjoying the process of figuring things out is great trait for software developers. After all, to safely make a change to those hundreds of thousands of lines of code you just inherited, it's best to understand how it works before you start.

3. Some people enjoy being the expert. They like to be the one that people turn to when for advice and new information. They are self-motivated to know as much as possible and keep up with everything new with some technology. “Why is this SQL query running so slow?” “I don’t know. Let’s go ask Cindy. She knows everything about PostgreSQL. She’ll tell us what to do to fix it.” Again, computers are ever evolving and the breadth of knowledge is so huge, there’s plenty of things to become an expert in.

4. Some people like to invent new things. They have ideas for things that don't exist in the world. Maybe they think they’ll get rich. Maybe they’ll make the world a better place. For people like this, being able to write software is a great fit. Most inventions require a substantial money investment to buy physical machinery and tools, raw materials, and lawyers. Have an idea for a new way to use your computer to send messages to your friends? A new way to buy a used car? A new way to keep track of your expenses? Great, all you need is the laptop (you most likely already have), some freely available programming tools, an internet connection, and time.

5. Some people like be a help to others. Someone has a problem. You help them solve that problem. They thank you for helping them. Now they are happier, and this makes you happier. It’s a great feeling.

6. Some people like to make and build things. This is similar to being an inventor, except that makers aren’t motivated by building things they personally dream up. Instead, they get personal enjoyment from building things other people want. They like that they’ve collected tools, know how to use them, and can use their tools and skills to make something other people want. If you need custom cabinetry built for your kitchen remodel, or maybe a new iron gate for your front yard, you go find a craftsperson to build it for you. The same kind of people exist to make custom software applications for your ideas.

At DelMar, each member of our staff has a little of all these traits. We all have some gadgets, we all like to investigate and figure things out, we continually learn and have expert-level knowledge on lots of software related topics. We even have ideas for brand new apps no one has imagined before.

But mostly, we think of ourselves as helpers and builders. If you’ve got a problem you think can be solved with computers, or need something custom built, contact us today. We’d love a chance to talk to you.