The Most Valuable Trait of a Developer: Curiosity

The Most Valuable Trait of a Developer: Curiosity

Diving into the world of a software developer can be daunting. There are a million things to learn, and the more you learn the more you find you still need to learn!

This can be a challenging reality when working in the field alongside other professionals. The goal of this article is to ease your mind about this a help you focus on what matters as a developer.

Why curiosity is so important

There are many essential qualities that characterize a successful developer. A successful developer should be a good communicator, a team player, organized, etc... but there is something I see as a precursor to all of these.

These characteristics describe behaviors you exhibit while working in a job you love. They come from a genuine interest in your work and show themselves through effective professionalism.

This genuine interest, or curiosity, is a necessary prerequisite to the others in my opinion. Without a true curiosity about how things work, how to progress in your career, and how to grow as a developer, the other traits become infinitely more difficult.

How to stay curious

All developers go through the ups and downs of curiosity throughout their careers. Varying levels of burnout affect your mindset and interest in growing as a developer, however, there are tricks to keep that fire alive:

Pace yourself

This one may seem counterintuitive, however, I believe a major factor in maintaining a healthy curiosity about your work is to set healthy limits to the amount of time you spend honing your skills.

You may think pouring yourself day and night into learning and building knowledge is the secret to becoming a great developer. This behavior is actually detrimental but points to a positive trait. The mindset behind that (unhealthy) behavior is curiosity!

Rather than focusing on pouring excess amounts of time into learning and practicing, focus on maintaining that curiosity and desire to learn by giving yourself time each day to dedicate to learning.

Be open to trying new things

Another way to remember that you are not in school. You aren't being forced to learn any one thing. If one thing starts to feel like work, expand your expertise and try something new!

Have you been playing with databases for too long and feel like you don't ever want to write a SQL query again? Try learning some new CSS tricks!

Being open to trying new things not only expands your technical toolbelt but also gives you time away from whatever topic you were becoming burned out on.

Set goals for yourself

The last trick to help you maintain a healthy curiosity in your development journey is to set goals for yourself.

Look at what other developers out there are doing. Become active on Twitter, Discord, and other communities where people share their accomplishments. Doing this will help you formulate ideas about accomplishments you would like to achieve.

As you find things that spark your interests, take note! Set a goal to get your hands on that technology and understand it. You don't need to become an expert in something to justify spending time with it. Set small goals to incrementally build your knowledge across many different tools and paradigms.

The result

We've talked about why curiosity is so important and how to maintain your curiosity, but what will this do for you?

As mentioned before, curiosity is the precursor for other traits of a successful developer. Being curious will:

  • Be apparent to your team and show you care about your job
  • Help you to be constantly building your technical knowledge
  • Give you genuine interest in understanding how to communicate your knowledge effectively
  • Help you be constantly aware of your interests and goals in your career

All of these are incredibly important during your career and will be the defining factors of how you grow as a developer.

I hope this helped ease your mind by giving you one primary goal: build, maintain and enjoy your curiosity in the wide field of software development!