Why software developers shouldn’t stop at one language

software developer

The world of software development is growing and becoming more and more demanding. With the advent of microservice architectures and cloud hosting companies build hybrid infrastructures. Newer technologies replace the old or are integrated. All of this shows how important it is for a software developer in the current market to be as versatile as possible.

Knowing a programming language well is wonderful but it can just mean you drive yourself into a corner as a software developer. Programming languages are numerous because of the personal preference of certain developers but also out of necessity. Some are faster but much more verbose, like C where you have control over all the details, but the amount of code you need to write is much greater than in Python which is famed for its ease of use. With some, there is a concern over memory use while others are great for large-scale applications. Some are stricter in their syntax while others are dynamic, some turn all problems into objects and manipulate them this way, others are functional and promise cleaner code, fewer bugs, and a better experience overall.

Having access to as many of these technologies and being familiar with their different paradigms opens up a vast array of possibilities both in the problem-solving department but also in career prospects.

If you know only one programming language you can approach issues in only one way, and though it is possible to stick to one technology to do this, it does not mean that is the best solution. In software development there is no right answer to one problem, there are various possible answers, all of them with advantages and disadvantages. You might need something very quick and hassle-free, or you may need one that scales well, that can be easier to maintain and change as the project grows.

Many software development companies hire software engineers who haven’t used the programming language they need at that moment. How is that possible? A good software engineer knows how to think and understands programming well enough to be able to learn a new language in a very short amount of time, becoming useful to the team in weeks or even mere days. This is what it means to be programming language independent.

Learning a second and then a third language takes you closer to this goal as well by teaching you how to think about a real-world problem in newer ways and gives you the ability to turn it into code in a much more efficient manner. The secret is to try to learn programming languages that are different. Doing that is likely to clarify things that you might have not understood in enough depth even in your first language. Being 100% proficient in one language is a myth. There will always be things that require research and thinking outside the box.

Once you tackle the first language, are fluent in it, and able to build something without any hand-holding from outside, understanding and learning your second one is easier. From there your third and fourth will just be a breeze. This means that they will require an effort but once you know how to learn, the work is half done.

Experienced software developers encourage newbies to learn C which is a lower-level language, not exactly machine language, but close enough. Once they know how that works, they will understand better why a higher-level language does what it does and appreciate its shorter, cleaner syntax more. But even if that is not your path, if you started with one kind of language don’t learn a similar one. It will not give you the extra edge in understanding what you can really do with code, but challenge yourself with something completely foreign. Just like learning Italian and then Spanish is not that impressive, but learning Italian and Russian has already opened the door to two different language systems which will be easier to navigate if the need arises.

With a few programming languages under your belt, much more of the job market is open to you. You will be able to actually choose your job and the software development company you actually want to work for because your skills are in demand. The leverage you have to negotiate a better salary is also higher.

Finally, learn a new programming language because you are passionate and you like a challenge.

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