Finding a niche or specialization is one of the biggest steps to pushing your career forward. This is no different when it comes to your career as a software developer. With so much information out there in the tech world, you must specialize in order to keep up.
I have been developing software professionally for two years now and I am definitely realizing the importance of finding a niche. When I first began, I was naive and thought that I can be a generalist and become good in all areas of development (you can probably guess how that went). Therefore, the purpose of this post is for me to talk about some tips on how you can find your niche. This post also serves as “what you wished you were told early in your software development career.”
1. Identify Your Interest or Passion
Knowing what your interests are and what you are passionate about is a key step to finding your niche. To some, finding your interests and passion comes easy, while for others they need to put in more effort.
If you are having trouble with identifying your passion and interests, consider the following questions:
- What are you normally working on when you are “in the zone” or in a state of “flow”?
- What task energizes you instead of draining you?
- What areas could you continue exploring without feeling bored?
2. Satisfy Your Curiosity with Small Projects
One of the best ways to get a feel for a subject is to get your hands dirty. Are you curious about Android development? Download Android Studio and open up a template project. Play around with the project by making changes and see what happens.
Once you have a few small projects under your belt, you will start to understand what you like and dislike. You might also find out areas that you are good at and bad at. For example, you might find developing a mobile app to be fun, enjoyable and “easy” while developing a desktop application to be boring and “difficult”. The more projects you have worked on, the easier it is for you to find your niche.
3. Know What You Are Good At
There are certain things that you might be naturally better at than others. If you are lucky enough to find out what it is, then you should factor that into determining your niche. Maybe you found out that you are extremely good at linear algebra. This would mean you will probably have an easier time specializing in computational-based programming.
Aside from your natural talents, you should also know what you are good at (both soft and hard skills). You might be able to explain very technical concepts in simple terms with ease (soft skill). In addition, you find breaking down technical concepts into smaller parts and turning them into reality to be easy (hard skill). With those two skills, you would probably make a great mentor to other developers.
4. Know What You Are Not Good At
No one is perfect, so that means there are some things that you are not good at. It does not matter how much work you put into it, you are just not good at it. For example, you are able to write incredibly efficient code that does everything it needs to in the backend, but the UI (user interface) is ugly. You might have worked on the UI longer than the backend.
Identifying areas that you are weak in is important. It indicates where you need to improve. In the unfortunate event, that you really cannot become good enough in those areas, they act as red flags in choosing your niche. For example, if you excel in backend code and not frontend, do not specialize in UI design/development.
5. Identify Problems That You Can Solve
Whether your niche will take off or leave you hanging dry will depend on if it will solve problems other people are having. If your specialized skill is no longer relevant then it does not matter how good you are in it.
Another important point to consider is the competition. It is unlikely, you are the only person in the world that is specializing in the subject that you chose. If the field is already saturated, then it will be much more difficult for you to get your name out there and stand out from the crowd.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you found this post helpful, share it with others so they can benefit too.
Did any of these tips help you find your niche? Were you already putting into practice some of these tips? How did you stumble across your niche?