Welcome back to our author series! We’d like to introduce JT Wheeler to you.
Though JT didn’t start coding until he was well into college, he’s a brilliant analytical thinker who is great at transferring that skill set to many different areas. For instance, he’s worked in coding at a steel manufacturer.
Let him fill you in on his background, his writing work, and lots of thoughtful advice for programmers, or even just the casual reader looking for some general advice. He’s full of poignant and well-articulated words of wisdom for all, especially on the power of communicating!
HS: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you started in the tech industry.
JT: Science and technology have always interested me. In school, I thought I would go into mechanical engineering. But one thing led to another in college, and I found myself in computer science. My junior year was actually the first time I’d written any code. After college, I started work as a software developer at a steel manufacturer. It was really cool to see how the software I wrote directly impacted the production line. Applying technology to challenging, real-life problems is truly my dream job, as cliche as it may sound.
HS: When and why did you start writing for Hit Subscribe?
JT: I started writing for Hit Subscribe in September of 2018 after a colleague asked if I’d be interested in writing about tech. I enjoyed writing in college, and I had wanted to start a personal blog focused on software development. So I said I’d give it a shot.
HS: How do you see writing? As a hobby, side-hustle, or passion?
JT: I mostly see writing as a hobby that also benefits my professional life. I’m normally very analytical, so writing allows me to be creative. It’s also a great way for me to learn new subjects and share my personal experiences.
HS: How has your writing changed since you started writing for Hit Subscribe?
JT: My writing has changed significantly since I started writing for Hit Subscribe. Because college was the last time I had really written aside from emails, my writing style was very academic, which is very different from blogging. My first post for Hit Subscribe showed me the difference between the two writing styles very quickly. Thanks to the fantastic editors at Hit Subscribe who give great feedback, my writing has continued to improve. Writing posts now comes much easier to me. I’ve also learned about the types of posts I’m interested in writing.
HS: What advice do you have for those just starting out in the tech world?
JT: Find ways to become a better communicator, whether it be written or verbal. Technology is a complex subject that can easily be misunderstood. This can lead to confusion that can cost time and money. Also, knowing your audience is very important. The ability to translate technical concepts and problems for non-technical (or less-technical) people is a valuable skill. It can help you gain trust and respect. Hint, we developers love talking tech, but most people don’t have a clue what we’re talking about when we’re rambling on about build systems or CQRS.
In addition to communicating, be a continuous learner. If you’re typically an object-oriented programmer, try learning about functional programming. Or try out back-end development if you’re a front-end developer or vice versa. You’ll be surprised at how stepping outside of your standard skillset can help you improve. Oh, and if you’re a developer, learn and practice test-driven development. This will help you write better code and will give you confidence in your code changes. Feel free to thank me later for this piece of advice.
HS: What advice do you have for software developers looking to improve their writing skills?
JT: Pick a subject you’re interested in and just start writing. Also, find ways to receive feedback on your writing. Just like with most things in life, your writing will improve with practice and feedback. You’ll start to find ways to get your message across so it’s concise and easy to follow. Another great way to improve your writing is to write for multiple audiences. This requires a change of tone in your writing. If you find yourself continually talking past a business stakeholder at work, tune a post targeted at their persona. You’ll learn how to tweak your wording to speak to this type of audience.
HS: Why do you think it is important for software developers to improve their writing skills?
JT: This goes back to my advice for those starting out in the tech world: become a better communicator. Writing has a very low barrier to entry and possibly less stress than public speaking. Writing can help you reflect on how to communicate better, which will help you communicate better in the team room and with stakeholders. Improving your writing can eventually help you in presentations because you know how to appeal to your audience.
Thanks to JT for allowing us to feature him on the blog today! If you’re interested in having him write for your tech blog, you know where to find us. Or if you’re an author and want to enjoy some of the same benefits of writing that JT has, apply to be one of our writers!