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How To Actually Learn Software Engineer Skills

A very common trap among software engineers is that they end up merely acquiring knowledge instead of actually learning software engineer skills. This is especially true when you're onboarding into a new team or company.

Here are the core points from the video:

  • Learn how to fish - If you are growing as a software engineer, you want to make sure that you're actually learning the systems underneath instead of just acquiring surface-level solutions to your problems. "Receiving fish" is knowing that solution X solves your problem Y. "Learning how to fish" is understanding how solution X was crafted.
  • Get maximum value per answer - Learning is largely absorbing support from other software engineers. When this happens, make sure to deeply understand how they arrived at their support. This can be when they give you an answer to your question or leave a comment on your pull request. Ask follow-up questions to "download" their thought process. It's much better to take full advantage of each interaction all in one go, so you don't need to ask them other simple questions in the future.
  • Example: A teammate helps you debug. You can ask them the following:
    • How did you identify the breaking code?
    • Why did you choose this approach for the fix vs. others?
    • If you couldn't understand the code immediately, how did you figure out who to ask to get this understanding?

This clip is from our masterclass on how to succeed at a new team or company as a software engineer. Click here to watch the full thing.

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