Book Review: The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide

I started my blog here in part to help advance my personal career. While speaking at Boise Code Camp 2017 I was fortunate to hear the keynote speech of John Sonmez of After reading many of his posts, I have been a fan of his. He offers some excellent career guide type of information on his site and in his books.

He recently released a new book, The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide. I grabbed the Kindle version of the book shortly after release, the physical book arrived a few days later, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

This is the second book by Sonmez that I have read, the first being Soft Skills: The software developer’s life manual and they are both, in my opinion, must haves (not just reads) for software developers. I say must haves because I find myself continually returning to them for information. Let’s have a look at what is in the Career Guide.

Career Guide

The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide

I am generally hesitant to jump on anything that claims to be a complete guide to something. However, Sonmez has included so much information in this book that I really can’t think of anything he left out. To start with, the book is big. Almost 800 pages big. Over 3.5 pounds big. Okay, not the Kindle version, but the physical book is a beast. In comparison, the book Cracking the Coding Interview is over a hundred pages shorter.

Topics Covered

Sonmez breaks his book into a few different sections which really helps to make it a quick reference. The sections and included chapters include a wide range of topics and information that is useful for those starting out to those who are veteran developers. The topics covered are:

  • Getting Started as a Software Developer
  • Getting a Job
  • What You Need to Know About Software Development
  • Working as a Developer
  • Advancing Your Career

Deeper Look

There are many nuggets of information in this book. There is coverage for the beginning questions of the types of development available or which language to choose (Hint: it doesn’t really matter, choose one!) and how to quickly develop your skills. Sonmez covers where to pick up your programming education… teach yourself, go to college, a boot camp? The pros and cons are covered here in nice detail.

He also covers in great detail about things to think about while working as a developer. How do you deal with people who may be great developers but lack an understanding of the human interaction side of things? He covers that. How about dealing with and understanding management? He covers that as well. I really like a line in Chapter 37.

A good boss is measured on how well the people under him perform and how he is able to manage and report on their activities.

I know I have had a variety of managers in my career, some good, others not so much so. That line sums things up pretty well.

Sonmez wraps up his book with a great section on how to advance your career. Some might think that this section is only applicable to industry veterans. But really, in my opinion, people just starting out can use these techniques while trying to find their first job as well. Things, like starting a blog and keeping your skills up to date, are something everyone can (and should) be doing.

 Physical Book versus Kindle

I am typically a paper book person. There is just something for me about having a physical piece of paper to turn. That being said, one of the things about the Kindle edition that I find very useful is the links to additional resources that Sonmez scatters throughout the book. While he does do a considerable amount of self-promotion in these links (can’t blame him for that) he also includes some great external resources as well.

Wrap Up

Mr. Sonmez has a great deal to offer the developer community. He has inspired me to keep a pace of writing blog posts and to share my knowledge as a speaker at events, such as Boise Code Camp and local meetups like the Willamette Valley Software Engineers.

His latest work is another excellent offering with some timeless guidance. I would highly encourage you to pick up a copy today. It could make all the difference in you obtaining your next job, so what’s stopping you?

Follow me on Twitter @kenwalger to get the latest updates on my postings.


A Review of PyCon 2017

PyCon 2017 was held about 45 miles south of Portland, Oregon where I am fortunate enough to live. I am typically not a great conference attendee so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive about going. After walking into the Portland Convention Center and being surrounded by 3,500 fellow Python enthusiasts, however, I was super excited.

PyCon 2017 Talks

There were several amazing talks on a wide array of subjects. There were first time PyCon presenters like Jonas Neubert with a fascinating talk on using Python for factory automation. Along with some “heavy hitters” in the Python community such as Philip James and Daniele Procida. Daniele’s talk on documentation was very interesting and definitely a different way of thinking of of the documentation process.

There were some really good keynote speeches as well. I really enjoyed learning from Lisa Guo on the migration path Instagram took to go from Python 2 to Python 3. I also found Dr. Katy Huff‘s talk on some practical applications for Python in the science field to be quite interesting.

Kenneth Love gave a tutorial on the Django Admin which I would encourage people to work through as well. As usual it is a great presentation and Mr. Love provides excellent information.

There were many other great talks, from many great speakers. The conference talks are available on YouTube here. I’d encourage you to watch, listen, and learn from as many as possible.


There were some great vendors and businesses in attendance. Big companies like Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Facebook/Instagram were all there. They all offered some excellent short talks in their booths on how they were using Python for their applications or products. They also had a variety of swag they were giving away in exchange for a badge scan.

Google had an hourly trivia session and provided prizes for the correct answer. I picked up a copy of Python in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference for knowing that PyCon 2018 would be held in Cleveland, Ohio. Intel had several drawings for an Amazon Echo, along with several other vendors actually. Booz Allen Hamilton had several drawings for a Raspberry PI 3 Model B which I sadly wasn’t able to win.

Company branded socks were one of the big swag things at PyCon, beyond the t-shirts, stickers, and fidget spinners. Microsoft, O’Reilly Publishing, Citus Data, and Heroku all had custom socks. Scan your badge… get socks.

PyCon 2017 Vendor socks


In addition to the great learning opportunities the talks provided, and the interaction with sponsors, another key feature of any conference is the people. The opportunity to get to meet and talk with people like Andrew Pinkham who authored Django Unleashed, or Russell Keith-Magee of BeeWare was spectacular. Having the chance to meet and talk with other developers about industry trends was great as well.

I have heard that the Python community is second to none in terms of inclusiveness and I was able to witness first hand that is indeed the case. Due to the exceptional overall experience I had at PyCon 2017, I am sincerely hoping that I can make to the trip to Cleveland in 2018.