Slamming the Brakes on Five Developer Myths

There are a lot of misconceptions about developers. Having started my career as a developer and building TradeRev, I’ve come across a few. In addition to the funny, oddball stereotypes we see on hit TV shows like Silicon Valley, developers seem to have developed an unfair reputation when it comes to how they learn, work, grow and solve problems.

If you’re a young person who’s considering a career in development or just starting out in the industry, here are five long-held beliefs about developers you’ll quickly discover are myths.

1. The Strongest Developers Know the Latest Technology

While knowing the latest technology is certainly a huge asset, developers must have a firm foundation in the fundamental principles of development. Unlike technology, which is always changing, solid fundamentals—along with a passion and an ability to learn quickly—are the true building blocks that set talented developers up for success.

Sure, an eight-week boot camp can help introduce you to new technologies, but the best developers build and maintain a deep knowledge bank which they continuously supplement through learning, experience and growth.

2. The Best Developers are Lone Wolves

There’s a cliché of developers as introverts who are most comfortable working alone in front of their computer screen, but it’s simply not true. Developers are competitive, and that same competitiveness drives them to work with the best. To grow quickly, developers must surround themselves with talented people they can bounce ideas off and learn from. Collaboration, mentorship and teamwork are all required if you want to develop a ground-breaking app that can revolutionize an entire industry.

At TradeRev, we always put a premium on developers who come from team environments, versus being “the guy” who built a cool application himself. Great development will always be team-oriented— the better the team, the better the developer.

3. Developers are Motivated by Money and Perks

Money is important to us all. That’s no secret. But in a world where almost every new startup offers competitive salaries, stock options and incredible perks, the true differentiator for most developers becomes the chance to do meaningful, challenging work. Developers want to have a voice in what they do.

At the end of the day, developers are builders. They want to build cool things, and they can’t be innovators just anywhere. My company currently has 20 developers on staff; many of who started with us at the beginning and/or have been with us for well over two years (and we all know time for developers is measured in dog years). These developers, and the 15 we’ll soon be hiring, have their inboxes stuffed with job opportunities from tech companies offering free gym memberships, fancy snacks, game rooms and big-time salaries, but they choose, or will choose, to be at TradeRev because we provide the opportunity to make a real impact, and the recognition of their contribution individually and as a team to developing industry-changing technology.

4. Great Developers Don’t Make Mistakes

The world of development is one of constant deadlines (for instance, our mobile app solution went through 23 different updates last year), so one would assume there is no time to make mistakes. However, if you want to be a great developer, you need to take risks.

Innovation by its very definition requires risk and a willingness to make mistakes, so I’m always looking for developers who are brave but also accountable. There’s always pressure to deliver, but I’d rather see someone swing for the fences and miss than hit steady singles. Chief Technology Officer, Wade Chia, and I wrote the first TradeRev mobile app ourselves, so we understand to be a market leader you need to push boundaries.

We tell our employees to own the mistake, adjust and swing again. After all, you can’t build something new if you’re not willing to try something you’ve never done before.

5. Smart Developers are Specialists

Many newbies believe they need to specialize upon entering the industry, often forging their identities through them by saying things like, “I’m a front-end developer” or “I’m an iOS developer.” But young people shouldn’t be afraid to be generalists. Versatility is a huge positive.

As talented developers advance in their career, they grow into generalists with deep knowledge in many areas because technology keeps changing, and they’re eager to learn and try new things. So while an individual may come to us specializing in one area of development, they quickly grow into full-stack developers who can build features from the front-end to back-end, over different platforms and even set up the architecture. It all comes back to having those fundamentals, and being engaged and challenged by the work that you do.

I hope this article helps dispel some of these developer myths and gives young people a fresh perspective into what it takes to succeed in the industry. If you’re a talented, passionate individual who’s looking to jump-start your development career, you can learn more about life at TradeRev.

Mark Endras is the ‎CEO and co-founder of TradeRev