Learning the Language: Programming Insights from IBM Senior Software Developer, Elom Tsiagbey

With over 350,000 employees and clients spanning 170 countries across the globe, IBM is the largest technology and consulting employer in the world. From building and designing, to coding and consulting, IBM is on the frontier of the technology landscape. 

Software developer, Elom Tsiagbey, has extensive experience in the industry, having started his career as a technical analyst at IBM before joining the ranks at Adobe Systems and Nokia. Now a senior software developer at IBM, Elom has valuable insight for new and seasoned developers alike including tips for learning languages, developing fluency, and keeping up in an ever-evolving field. 

What are some of the most popular programming languages right now?

“Python would probably be number one right now because it’s beginner friendly. People from all sectors are using Python, not just software developers but also data scientists and even biologists. Of course, there’s Javascript too. It’s extremely versatile you can create web apps, mobile apps, and backend apps” he explained. 

From Elom’s perspective, Java is a tried and true programming language that hasn’t yet been edged out by new competitors. 

“Some people say Java is old school, but a lot of enterprise applications are still using it including some of the big names like IBM, Uber, and Airbnb for backend purposes. It still has a huge community and I don’t think it’s going anywhere just yet,” he said. 

While Python, Java, and JavaScript have been big players in the programming world for years, new languages are also gaining popularity. Golang, recently created by Google, is an open source language that makes it easy to build simple, reliable software that can scale quickly. 

How can developers learn new languages? 

“There are so many opportunities to learn and develop your skills. Personally, I’m an avid podcaster. I have a lot of podcasts in my rotation related to the field. For web development, I listen to Syntax FM. For software engineering in general, there’s the software engineering daily podcast. From the front end to the back end to SRE, there’s a podcast for everything. This is an excellent way to keep up with the industry and see what languages people are shifting towards. Get your ear to the ground and listen,” he explained. 

Elom also highly recommends attending meet-ups, which are increasingly accessible with virtual options. “Search for a meet-up focused on a specific language and you can always find people online discussing,” he shared. 

“Another trick to see what languages are popular at the moment is to visit career websites like Indeed and see how many job listings are asking for the same programming language. That will give you a good sense of what companies are using and looking for in new hires,” he explained. 

What advice would you give people beginning their coding journey or transitioning to a career in web development? 

“Growing up, I had never coded in my life. But I knew I wanted to solve problems and keep learning,” he said. This meant starting with the basics. “People often want to jump right into the frameworks without understanding the foundation. Start from the beginning and slowly build your understanding first,” he recommended. 

For Elom, development is about patience and curiosity. “You will never fully understand everything on the first try. Be patient and get plugged into the community. Listen to podcasts, explore Discord channels, read blog posts, and attend meet-ups so you can actively engage with new ideas,” he said.

That being said, Elom emphasizes the importance of actively practicing the skills you’re absorbing. “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Create a GitHub account, take as many tutorials as you can, and make it your own. Take the basic foundations you learn and create something new fill a gap,” he said.

Last but not least, Elom recommends finding mentors that you can learn from. “Mentorship is so important. Find someone who can review your code and steer you in the right direction,” he said.

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