what i learned as a non-developer at devteach

Over the past three days, I had the pleasure of attending the DevTeach conference in Montreal. For those of you wondering what exactly DevTeach is, it's short for Developers Teaching, and is geared towards developers and technology specialists (definitely not me!) who want to learn more about their craft and stay on top of development trends. Attending DevTeach was an eye-opening event packed with some great insights. In no particular order, here’s what I learned as a non-developer at DevTeach.

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this developer stuff isn’t easy

I usually consider myself a pretty tech-savvy person, but when it came to attending sessions about coding and various development tools, it became clear how in over my head I was. There’s a lot of learning, practice and dedication that goes into becoming a developer. It’s not as easy as taking a course and voila, you’re a newly-minted developer. It’s a years-long process. Many of the developers I met were self-taught and invested in constantly improving their craft. They regularly engage in development projects both in and outside of work. Which brings me to…

developers are passionate about their work

When you’ve hit on a subject that devs find interesting, it's immediately clear. I struck up a few conversations throughout the conference, and quickly realized developers can talk about their favourite dev tools and recent projects endlessly. Many of the developers I spoke to got into the field because they love what they’re doing. Many started doing projects for fun and realized they could make a career of it.

developers want to work for a company that feels the same

All the developers I spoke with were employed or consistently freelancing. Which isn’t that surprising, given how in-demand developers are (that, and attending DevTeach might be a bit of a luxury for the unemployed.) When asked what would make them leave their current role, many said they wouldn’t consider it at all. Others who were a little more open to the idea (but still not completely sold) said it would take more than just a nominal bump in salary to get them to leave their current job. They want projects they care about, employers who understand and are truly invested in development, and a team of talented coworkers they get along with. Hiring managers take note. No big, right?

developers wear many hats

The development cycle is comprised of many moving parts. Being a full-stack developer isn’t an easy thing. There’s a reason full stack developers are so in demand – there’s a huge knowledge-base and numerous skills involved in their day-to-day work. From front-end and design, to databases, to cloud technology, to mobile apps, to Internet of Things (IoT), to debugging and support, to the gazillion programming languages, frameworks and various other technologies I was introduced to throughout DevTeach, there’s a mind-boggling number of things that can be a part of a developer’s toolbox. Even more confusing, depending on the company you’re working for, the requirements, skills, and software competencies needed are wildly different, even for very similar job titles. Talk about confusing.

as a career, development skews heavily male

I can’t speak on a larger scale, but at DevTeach the vast majority of attendees were men. In most of the sessions I attended the number of women in the room could be counted on one hand with room to spare. In some sessions I was the only female. While I believe that some progress has been made encouraging women to get into careers in development, coding and technology, it’s clear there’s still lots of room for more women to get into tech and development careers. Attending DevTeach made it clear how important initiatives like Women Shaping Business are in encouraging women to take on traditionally male-dominated industries.

successful developers are life-long learners

As someone who has worked with and adjacent to developers and tech professionals, I thought I had a pretty solid grasp on what full stack developers need to know to be successful. Not so much. DevTeach opened my eyes to just how much ongoing learning is required. Development tools, languages, frameworks and technologies are constantly shifting. What’s popular today, isn’t necessarily what’s going to be in demand tomorrow. Technology changes at the speed of light, and devs need to keep up to avoid their skillset becoming obsolete.

ruby, python and node.js are what the cool kids are using

Though .net was noted as the most popular framework used by devs by a significant majority, it’s not what the so-called cool kids (a.k.a. innovative, boundary-pushing developers) are using. Forward-thinking developers are refreshing their skill-base and trending toward ruby, python and node.js. If you’re looking to get development work and ensure you’re employable in the years to come, these frameworks might be your ticket.

data rules the world

Okay, I might not have ‘learned’ this at DevTeach, but the thought was reinforced. As a content marketer, data plays a crucial role in my day-to-day content strategy and planning. (And let’s be honest, you can’t visit a marketing or business blog these days without stumbling across an article about using data to improve business results in one way or another.) Apparently, the tech world agrees with this assessment. Look out for a continued rise in the importance of data scientist jobs and various analyst jobs.

the cloud is taking over storage

This might be because I attended several AWS (Amazon Web Services) sessions, and they have a vested interest in ensuring people believe that cloud technologies are the future. But they made a compelling case for why it’s true. If you’re a developer, having a solid knowledge-base of cloud technology is a sure-fire way to ensure you’re employable and futureproof your career. One speaker noted that network administrator jobs may begin to be taken over by cloud administrator jobs in the near future.

IoT is the future of development (or at least a big chunk of it)

The Internet of Things is quickly taking over. From smart fridges, to smart thermostats, to smart lights, to smart toilets (yes, toilets) there isn’t an area of our lives or homes that remains untouched by technology. In the coming years, expect more developers to focus their attention on development for IoT as customer demand for these products grows. It’s going to be huge business and already is in many ways. One only need look at the success of products such as Amazon Echo and Google Home to see that the demand for smart home products is growing.

and in the end…

It was clear to me that development is a dynamic field with a lot of moving parts and exciting new technologies to be explored. As a non-developer, attending DevTeach was a revealing experience that taught me about the complexity of developer jobs and what devs behind the scenes go through to make all our favourite devices as useful and addictive as they are.

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kristen smalley

A life-long lover of words, Kristen fell into her dream career when she discovered content marketing. As Randstad Canada's content manager, she's written about a variety of topics ranging from employment trends, to interview tips, to how to write the perfect resume. Though she loves every moment, she's especially passionate about content that empowers women to make the most of their careers.