Why Programmers Should Learn More Than One Language

There's an old adage that applies to every software developer: The more you know, the more you grow. And that also applies to the companies they work for.
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In order to compete, today’s businesses must be agile. There’s simply no way around it. Companies must be able to pivot quickly. Otherwise, the competition will leave them in the dust. But it’s not just about competition with other businesses. Technology is in a constant state of evolution. Gone are the days when your business could just deploy standard client-based applications and be done with it.

Now you need web apps, mobile apps, containers that scale, IoT, edge computing, Big Data—each of which requires special skills. Without such flexibility, your company cannot adapt. If you can’t adapt, you can’t succeed.

To gain any level of agility, you need programmers able to create the software necessary to extend your backend and the services you offer. You might think that all you need to do is hire software engineers that are proficient in Java, or JavaScript, or Python, or Ruby, or .NET. The truth is, however, you’re going to need more than one language to get the job done. 

Because of that, you probably assume you’ll need to hire a team of Java developers, a team of JavaScript developers, a team of Python developers, a team of Ruby developers, and a team of .NET developers. That would certainly be one approach. 

Or, you could encourage your programmers to broaden their skills beyond a single language. Why would you want to do that? Wouldn’t hiring a master of a single language be a more productive approach than hiring an engineer who has a lesser grasp, but on numerous languages? 

But what about the programmer who has a high degree of understanding of one language, but also knows their way around other languages? Let’s take a look at how having polyglot programmers (programmers who know more than one language) could benefit your company.    

 

Earning Potential

This might seem a bit counter-intuitive. After all, we’re talking about the programmers you hire for your company. Why would you want to encourage your engineers to do something that would make them more attractive hires to other companies?

The answer to that is simple: Having the best programmers makes it possible for you to attract new clients or extend your services. You can either hire new programmers that fit the bill, or you can expand the earning potential of your current engineers. Where’s the benefit in that? Sure, you might wind up having to offer up pay raises to those developers, but it shows you’re more than willing to make the investment in them.

So don’t just encourage your current staff to expand their skills, be willing to help pay for that training. Every time you invest in those employees, you increase their loyalty to you. The benefit here is that they can, in turn, do more for your company.

 

More Skill = More Options

Your CTO might be anxious to dive into the realm of Kubernetes and containers. If you don’t have developers with those skills, you’re not going to succeed with this challenging task. You could either hire a developer with that skill, or you could get your current developers trained for the task. As those developers add to their skill set, your company will enjoy more options and be able to advance your technology far beyond your current status.

If you don’t encourage your programmers to broaden their skills, your business will be stuck in a rut, and that is no place for any company now. In fact, as technology continues to advance, it’s becoming more and more complex. Your developers are required to fit pieces together that weren’t previously necessary. You’re dealing with different APIs with different requirements and different languages, frameworks to build various types of applications. With only one language under their belts, those developers are going to struggle to make things happen.

 

Languages Come and Go

This is a hard reality to face. A programming language could be all the rage one minute, and no longer in use the next. If you have a software engineer who falls prey to this, they could very quickly become irrelevant and unuseful. You don’t want that.

Instead, you want programmers who are not only future-proofed against fads but who are also able to adapt and learn new languages quickly. With a team of programmers who can make such pivots, there’s nothing your business cannot do.

 

Reputation, Reputation, Reputation

If your company does outsource programming for other businesses, you want to be known as a company that can do anything. If you get pigeonholed as a one-trick-pony, you’ll not only lose business, you’ll have trouble picking up new clients.

However, if customers see you as a company that is capable of succeeding with any task, your business will boom. With programmers who’ve expanded their skillsets beyond a single language, you can bet the reputation of your company will stand as a beacon to lead clients your way.

 

Troubleshooting and Fundamentals

If your programmers only know one language, they might have trouble solving every problem that is thrown their way. Given how fast companies evolve now, and how challenging the technologies driving them has become, you can bet the hurdles your engineers will face can be challenging. When you either hire programmers who know more than one language, or you encourage your software engineers to broaden their skills, the ability to troubleshoot more and more complex issues greatly increases.

You want programmers who are capable of approaching a problem from numerous angles, not just one. With that in place, you can be sure the problem will not only get solved but will be done so in a timely and reliable manner. 

Besides, every time a programmer learns a new language it re-enforces the fundamentals, which means they’ll be better able to solve the problems at hand.

 

Conclusion

There’s an old adage that applies here: The more you know, the more you grow. With every language your engineers learn, not only does their skills grow, but the possibility of your company growing increases exponentially. So encourage your programmers to branch out with new languages. This is the best win-win you’ll ever find. 

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