A quick look back on 10 years of professional software/hardware development and some advice for new developers and engineers.
Some generalizations on how the first 10 years of your career might look. Years 1 to 5 will be spent learning as much as possible; it's very likely you will learn more in the first two years on the job than you did in all of college. Years 6 to 10 will be spent niching down on specific skills.
During those first five years, some advice:
- There are many domains in software/hardware. Explore as many as possible. If your job forces you into one domain, spend some free time looking into others. For example, if you are a embedded software developer, learn about web application development.
- Learn to use many different tools but avoid vendor lock-in when possible.
- Avoid reinventing the wheel. Spend some time researching existing solutions and build upon them. Alternatively, reinventing the wheel can sometimes be a fun and educational exercise.
- Learn how to break complex tasks down into simple steps. Rome wasn't built in a day nor all at once.
The next five years will be built on your foundation of skills and experience. Never stop learning, it's easier now than ever. Good luck!