Working in an IT company is certainly a unique experience.
Deadlines are tough, projects can change on a dime, you’re told that failing is ok yet you really doubt it, and code never writes itself.
So, considering all these, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that some soft skills are needed besides coding knowledge.
The wonderful thing about a career in software development is that there are plenty of resources to help you learn on your own. If you’re considering getting into the IT industry, start learning and don’t forget about these skills:
1. Staying organized
No, this doesn’t mean you need to have stacks upon stacks of papers, neatly organized into folders and color-coded. What you do need is to be organized in your work. That means knowing:
- What to work on
- Why it has to be done
- When it should be done
- How much time it will take
Ideally, you would be able to tell the difficulty of the task, so that you allocate enough time for it. This ability comes with time and practice, so you’ll most likely learn it on the job.
Changes happen pretty fast in IT companies. You’ll have to know what task is the most urgent but, at the same time, always be prepared for a shift in direction.
Staying organized isn’t important just for your performance. The work you do affects the progress of the whole team, which brings us to the next point.
When thinking of IT, you might imagine people glued to their monitors, isolated in their work, doing their tasks so they can go home. It’s a common assumption but it’s dead wrong.
Yes, there are moments throughout the day when you’ll see people completely absorbed in their jobs.
But there are just as many moments when there’ll be several colleagues crowded around one monitor, brainstorming ways to fix a problem.
You have to know how and when to ask for help. Projects involve whole teams working towards a common goal and reaching that goal is everyone’s responsibility. As a junior, you will most likely ask for help more often than you can assist others and that’s perfectly fine. As you gain experience, you’ll guide others.
Teamwork also involves brainstorming for different, maybe faster solutions. It means different perspectives and thus, diversity. Of course, sometimes there will be disagreements, but even those lead to greater results down the road.
In time, you’ll learn how to better present your idea and bring solid arguments. Just don’t get arrogant and stop listening to other points of view.
IT companies are very dynamic. That makes them a lot of fun to be in but it also means that challenges pop up fast and often. Strategies can fall flat and new plans need to be made on the spot. Problems are an everyday occurrence.
What do you do then?
Giving up and blaming everyone else may seem tempting but please don’t.
Our suggestions - ask questions, seek guidance, google it, hold a little brainstorming session, start testing alternatives.
Problem-solving often requires analytical skills as well. You have to see the bigger picture and scan every detail of the project until an answer comes up.
Everybody knows how to point out problems. But not many actually put in the work to find solutions. Be one of the few.
4. Lateral thinking
Do you know what goes hand in hand with problem-solving? Thinking outside the box.
It is said that if you can’t solve a problem, it means you are playing by the rules.
Maybe that problem you have requires a bit of creativity. And who said you don’t need creativity when working with computers? Someone who didn’t know what they were talking about, that’s who.
Creativity is always welcome, especially when it is used to solve problems that at first seem insurmountable.
Lateral thinking makes the impossible possible every single day.
5. Respecting deadlines
It’s not called “deadline” without reason. You’re dead if you don’t respect it.
That was exaggerated a bit. Or maybe not. You never know.
Deadlines don’t exist just to make life harder. They’re set according to priority and the amount of time a task should require. However, it’s common for deadlines to be tight. Or to change often. It’s all about the client.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to respect your deadlines. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t. Stuff happens. Just make sure you have a good reason for not meeting the deadline and learn how to do better next time.
And all the previous soft skills lead beautifully to the next soft skill you need.
6. Resistance to stress
I think it’s pretty clear by now that this industry has its fair share of stressful moments.
So it’s really up to you how you respond to them.
It’s perfectly normal to freak out the first time(s). But it’s better that you learn from the start that things don’t always go as planned and that stress is unavoidable.
In those difficult moments, just take a moment to breathe and refocus. It’s hard but it gets slightly easier every single day. The important thing is to not give up.
If you don’t have a hobby, consider one. Here’s our article on why hobbies are important.