I’ve been an independent contractor, a freelancer, in my web development career for about eight years. Until September of last year, I was a solo act. I did a little of everything – project management, design, front end and back end development, sales … everything it takes to run a solopreneur business. In September of 2016, I was contracted by TEKsystems to work with Presbyterian Healthcare Services on their new intranet project.
Now I work with a team, and here is why you should strive to find a team to work with as well instead of being the lone wolf.
- It will accelerate your learning.
Being in a team of diverse talents and skill levels showed me how far I have come in my own skills, but also how far I have yet to go. Working with a lead that is better than I am helps me improve my skills way faster than if I am trying to figure out what I don’t know and then learn that. Getting quick pointers in the right direction means I learn new skills super fast now.
- It will expand your cursory knowledge of areas outside your expertise.
Having daily standups and weekly code reviews means that I am learning about areas outside my expertise, such as .NET, Powershell, SharePoint PnP, etc. Whether or not I ever venture into these areas myself, it’s still good to be aware of what they are, what they do, why they are important, and how they affect my work. Working solo I never even heard of these other areas, much less had a cursory knowledge of them.
- It will keep you accountable and on task.
Some people do the working solo thing very well, even when working from home with all those distractions. But it helps having a team that relies on you completing a task by a certain time and reporting on its progress in the daily standup to the whole team.
- It will improve your code.
Having version control and regular check-ins and code reviews with team members that are better that I am in some areas means they can point out where my code could be cleaner and more efficient. Even if team members are about the same level as I am in certain areas, it still helps to have a second pair of eyes to evaluate the approach in the code and raise questions, even clarifying questions, to help me re-think things and make them better.
- It will make you more flexible.
Working solo, it’s easy to get caught up in doing the same things in the same way every time. Working with a diverse team means working with code that may be very different from mine – it may look different, it may approach a problem differently … and this is a good thing. It means I learn to be flexible with how I approach problems. I learn to be flexible when modifying or adding to their code, and I learn to be flexible and be ok with them modifying my code.
Thoughts? Have you worked solo as well as with the team? What do you prefer and why?