You Don’t Have to Know Everything

by Drew Barontini

Today’s web developer is exposed to a lot of technologies. And I mean, like, a lot. Seriously. There’s a new JavaScript framework every other day. So how do you stay on top of all of it? You don’t.

Learn the fundamentals

You don’t have to know every programming language that exists. You don’t have to master all the JavaScript frameworks that exist. Hell, you don’t have to master all parts of building an application.

The important thing is to learn the fundamentals:

  • Learn what a variable is
  • Learn what a function is
  • Learn what conditional statements are
  • Learn how to execute a script in various formats
  • Learn how a web page is rendered
  • Learn how to debug
  • Learn how to problem solve

These are the basic concepts that you can continually build on in order to grow your skillset over time.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable

Don’t worry if you’re working on a project with an unfamiliar technology. With those concepts in place, you can be comfortable learning as you go. You don’t have to be an expert before you start working with/in a technology. You can feel confident in your ability to learn as you go.

Knowing just enough

Sometimes reading an article or making a CodePen to experience a new language or technology is enough. You don’t have to build a full-scale production application and become the world’s foremost expert on the subject. You can be aware of it, and be ready with the fundamental skills you’ve acquired when the time comes.

Getting help

I’ve talked about The Google Myth before. Don’t be afraid to find help amongst your coworkers, peers, or the vast community on the web. There are countless resources to help you when you’re picking up new things. There are a lot of great people that are always willing to help. Don’t avoid the resource.

Trust your teammates

Obviously this applies to working on a team, but trust in the specialties and specific skills of your teammates. If you’re a front-end developer, you don’t also have to be an expert designer or back-end developer or engineer. Hone your skills, and trust others to do the same.

That’s not to say that learning more about their specialty is a bad thing. It’s most certainly not. In fact, it can improve your working relationship, grow your empathy towards them, and even improve your own specialty.

That’s all, folks

Hopefully this is, on some level, useful advice. These are things I’ve come to realize about myself and my career working in the tech and web industry. But I still have a lot to learn, so take it for what it’s worth.