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6 New Year’s resolutions for software engineers in 2021

Hack Reactor

By Brittany Anas For Hack Reactor

What a decade 2020 has been, from the pandemic to the murder hornets. But with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and a worldwide digital transformation that’s creating record-high demand for software engineers, there’s plenty to be optimistic about as we approach a new year.

With 2020 coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions, including those that pertain to your career. From advancing in your career by enrolling in courses designed for professional development for software engineers to negotiating a raise, here are a half dozen New Year’s Resolutions that make sense for software engineers in 2021:

Upskill with a professional development course

Become a better coder and hone your leadership skills by enrolling in Hack Reactor’s professional development courses for software engineers. These short courses are designed to fit the schedules of working professionals who are interested in upskilling and advancing in their careers in 2021. Several courses are available and are tailored to teaching you how to do things like use data to write better code or meet the scalability requirements of millions of users. The classes are a blend of computer science theory and practical programming practices, and are held in the evenings.

Pro tip: Experts say the key to achieving your goals is to make sure they’re SMART, which stands for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.” The microlearning format of Hack Reactor’s professional development courses, for instance, is well suited for achieving resolutions.

Negotiate a salary increase

Companies are keeping pay competitive as software engineers are in high demand going into 2021. It may be time to negotiate a raise. In 2019, the average salaries for top engineering roles increased by 7 percent in New York and 6 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to HIRED’s 2020 State of Software Engineers report

Check out this software engineer salary review and make sure you are making what you are worth.

Set aside time to code 

Many software engineers decide to go out on their own and are on the way to building a great new venture.

But when you start a company, you wear a lot of hats. As your start-up takes off, you might find that you're dedicating a lot of time and energy to the logistics of running the business. 

Since starting cold e-mail outreach software company PitchFunnel, Nicholas Rubright says he’s delegated a lot of software development tasks to the engineers he’s hired. 

“This means that I'm spending lots of time on ‘business stuff’ and am not doing a lot of programming,” he says. “So that I don't fall behind, I plan on spending two hours a day during the workweek writing code during 2021.”

Learn AR/VR 

The hottest software engineering jobs right now are in AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality), according to the report from HIRED. Demand in this niche has increased by a whopping 1400 percent in the last year. Immersive experiences are being used beyond entertainment and across a number of industries, from healthcare to retail to manufacturing. 

Three in four software engineers expect to see the full impact of AR/VR within the next five years, according to HIRED’s report, and it’s ranked as one of the top technologies software engineers want to learn to be best prepared for the future.

Improve communications in a remote work environment

COVID-19 thrust a lot of companies into a remote work environment last spring. While many companies plan to continue with a remote workforce in the new year, there’s still a learning curve when it comes to communicating with remote teams

“Our goals as a team for 2021 are to get more productive in our communication as everyone has transitioned to a remote work environment,” says Nate Nead, CEO at DEV.co, which provides custom software development for websites, mobile apps, and corporate platforms. In 2021, Nead says, the company wants to get to a point where a remote team is even more efficient than the office-based team ever was. 

While effective communication strategies inevitably vary by company (and could even vary by project), researchers with the Harvard Business Review found that communicating in bursts—i.e. bursts of rapid-fire communications, with longer periods of silence in between—are hallmarks of successful remote teams.

Get a head start with improving communications with Galvanize’s Remote Developer Team Guide.

Connect with tech communities

While remote work can come with perks, it can also be isolating, which is why it’s important to connect with those in tech communities, whether it’s via blogs or virtual hack nights.

For Marie Starck, a full-stack JavaScript developer, 2020 was all about putting herself out there and connecting with the broader tech community. She started blogging and connected with other professionals in her field. For 2021, she wants to build on the momentum she created in 2020, and plans to create more learning resources around the technologies she uses.

Virtual events abound. You only have to know where to look. Here’s a great place to start.

What are some of the professional New Year’s Resolutions that you’ve set for yourself going into 2021?