Software engineering is often about learning. It’s pretty rare that we solve the same problem with the same technology stack over and over again. This isn’t a factory, after all! Instead, we solve the same problems with new technologies, or new problems with the same technology, or both. As a result, we’re always learning: new techniques, new libraries, new languages, new frameworks.
Which leads to the inevitable question: How good are you at….?
The answer to this falls into one of four categories:
- Totally lost
- Can make it happen, but it ain’t pretty
- Can do it properly
- Can do it properly and quickly
We use various words and metrics, like “fluent” or “I get by,” but they mean the same thing. In the end, what our teammates and managers care about is best expressed like this:
“How much can I trust this guy to do it? Am I going to have to reserve some time for someone to help him? To clean up after him? Or is this just going to be a drag on the rest of the team?”
That’s it. So when someone next asks, “just how good are you?” Answer the question they really care about.