Over the past couple of months Mission Hack travelled across Canada, making stops in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The hackathons attracted hundreds of talented developers with lots of big, innovative ideas. We had a chance to talk with several of them and get their insights on the tech field and what qualities are most important to be successful in tech. For those who are looking to break into a tech job… here’s what actual developers across Canada had to say about making it as a developer.


what are top skills developers need to succeed?

Interestingly, when we asked developers about the top skills required to be successful as a developer, most of them focused on soft skills rather than hard skills. As one developer in Toronto pointed out, anyone can be taught the technical skills needed to succeed. Soft skills are just as important but are much more difficult to teach. All the developers we talked to put emphasis on the importance of social skills like learning, collaboration and the ability to work harmoniously on a team. So those of you who want to work in tech but are worried about your tech abilities… have no fear! If you’re a collaborative team player who’s open to learning, there could be a tech job with your name on it! 

Mahtab in Toronto said, “The top qualities developers need today are not so much technical skills, but more a desire to learn and an ability to work well on a team. You can teach anyone technical skills, but things like being able to work on a team, being humble and constantly wanting to learn are really invaluable.”

Jed in Vancouver said, “A quality that stands out is the ability to work in a team… it’s really important to realize that you don’t build software by yourself. You build it with other developers. Communication skills are very, very crucial. The other thing I think is important is keeping up to date with technologies and understanding that the stack you use today may not be the stack you use tomorrow.”

Roy in Montreal said, “You need to be able to work under pressure, in a stressful environment. You also need to have basic knowledge and some core technologies that you’re really comfortable with.”

how can you grow and develop in tech?

The key takeaway we heard? Self-sustained learning is extremely important to be successful in tech. Development is such a fast-moving industry that the ability to pick up new skills quickly is extremely important. As a whole, developers are very driven and motivated to learn both at work, and in their own free time. All the developers we talked to mentioned the importance of taking on their own little side projects to learn new skills and get outside of traditional ways of learning to find the things that interest you most.

Mahtab in Toronto said, “The best way to grow in tech is to constantly be learning. New technologies are coming out all the time. You don’t have to learn all of them – that’s impossible – but pick and choose ones you find interesting. Try out your own little projects to learn.”

Jed in Vancouver said, “Growing and developing in the tech field definitely requires keeping up with technology. To achieve that, developers should go to meetups, talk to other developers and collaborate with them to build things using new technologies. There’s a lot of networking in the tech scene. Also do research, learning, and coding on your own time.”

Roy in Montreal said, “Get outside traditional education and school. Learn more about the specific things that interest you… In school sometimes the topics are a little bit different than what you learn doing things for yourself. So I’d definitely say self-learning is important.”

ready to take on a new challenge in your IT career?

how hackathons inspire developers to grow

The developers we talked to agreed: hackathons are a prime opportunity to play with new technologies and explore technologies and skills that you might not get to use much in your day job. Also important? Hackathons are a chance to collaborate with other developers. As we noted above, all the developers agreed that building software and other tech is a collaborative process. Contrary to popular culture depictions of solitary, anti-social coders, development is actually team-based and requires networking and different skill sets coming together to build a single project. 

Jed in Vancouver said, “Hackathons are an opportunity to play with a new piece of technology… it’s a chance to learn something new… Hackathons are also a great place to collaborate and to do some research and build something you’re passionate about, that you don’t necessarily have the time to do at work.”

Roy in Montreal said, “It’s a chance to get together with other developers, build friendships and our chemistry. We have fun while making something productive. We challenge ourselves to do something that will help us be better developers in the future.”

our biggest takeaway 

Finding success in tech is about a lot more than your technical skills. Soft skills are important, too. Though you’ll need to have core technical competencies to succeed in a developer job, those things can be learned if you’re passionate about development and open to learning, collaboration and teamwork. So all you aspiring developers, take note!