Giving back as a developer

Giving back as a developer

by | 8 min read
Originally posted on newsletter.alexhyett.com
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Christmas is a time for giving, and giving comes in many forms. It’s not all about the presents and stuffing your face with festive food (although there will be a lot of that as well). It is also a time to be grateful for everything that you have in your life, no matter how small.

As developers, we have a lot to be grateful for. There are not many professions that are in constant demand, with high pay, that you can do from the comfort of your own home (if the company will let you of course).

I know this year in particular has been tough with many still being effected by lay-offs, especially towards the beginning of this year. Fortunately, at least those I know personally effected, have managed to find themselves in new positions.

When it comes to pay, especially here in the UK, software developers are very well compensated. Sure, it is nowhere near the high 6-figure salaries seen in Silicon Valley, but if you at least live outside of London, then the cost of living is considerably lower as well.

If you have a look at the average annual salary in the UK by age you can see that the majority of the country isn’t earning anywhere near what developers typically earn.

AgeAverage Annual Salary
18-21£22,932
22-29£30,316
30-39£37,544
40-49£40,040

When I graduated in 2010 at age 22, and got my first job as a software developer I was earning £25,000 ($32,000). Adjusted for inflation that would be £36,815 ($46,500) in today’s money. I know many developers, especially in London earning a lot more than that straight out of university.

In fact, if you earn over £59,200 ($75,000), then congratulations, you are in the top 10% of earners in the UK.

With the cost of living crisis getting worse and bills due to increase again in January, I can imagine it is going to be a difficult Christmas financially for many this year.

As a developer, there are many things you can do to give back to the community, and it isn’t all about money.

Share your knowledge and experiences

One of the best ways is to share your knowledge. After all, we only get paid so highly because of what we know and can do.

As the famous saying goes:

Give a man some code and you help him for a day. Teach him how to code and you help him for a lifetime.

At least I think that is how it goes, although it may have had something to do with fish.

It isn’t just your knowledge but your experiences as well. Can you tell others about how you got into tech and the path you took? Many people are looking to get into the industry and just don’t know where to start.

Throughout the last year creating content I have been surprised by the number of questions I get from my readers and YouTube viewers. Unfortunately I don’t always have the time to answer them all but I try and help where I can.

When something comes easy for you, it can be just as easy to forget how difficult it can be for someone else.

You don’t need to be an expert at something to be able to teach it. You just need to be one step ahead of the person you are helping.

Support projects that have helped you

If writing or creating other content isn’t your thing then another way is to support the projects and people that have helped you or are helping others.

There are many developers, like me, who spend hours every week writing articles, producing videos and other content to help other hopeful developers get into tech and progress their careers.

If there are creators that have helped you in some way, then make sure that you reach out to them and say thank you. Even if it is just a comment or a like on their article or video it can really help give them the motivation to continue doing what they do.

I can tell you first hand that it takes a lot of discipline and effort to show up every week and produce content. I have been writing this newsletter every week for over a year now and have gained 1,300 subscribers (thank you for reading)!

However, I don’t make any money from this newsletter, it really is a labour of love. I don’t have anywhere near the same subscriber numbers as some of the other tech newsletters out there, but I can see from my stats that at least 500 of you enjoy reading my newsletter and that means a lot to me.

Many creators have donation buttons on their pages whether it be Ko-Fi, Buy Me a Coffee or Patreon. Even if they don’t need the money, paying for the content you receive for free is one way to say thank you and help motivate the creators to keep producing content which helps others.

Create and contribute to open-source projects

There are so many ways to give back with open-source software. Open-source software not only helps those that can’t afford to pay for software such as in developing countries, but it also helps developers learn how to code.

If there is a piece of open-source software that you enjoy using then consider contributing to it if you have the skills. If you don’t have the skills you can help by raising detailed bug reports, sharing it on social media or even supporting it financially.

Of course, you always have the option to write your own open source projects as well.

Mentor younger developers

There is always someone who is on the same path as you but just a few steps behind that you can help. You don’t need to be an expert to start mentoring a junior developer.

Even if you only have 1 year of experience you will likely have gained a lot of knowledge in that first year and will know first hand the difficulties someone starting out is facing.

There is probably someone you already know who you could mentor. Whether it be a junior developer at work, your next door neighbour or a family member. I am sure they will appreciate the help if you have the time.


👨‍💻 Latest from me

When I started this newsletter I didn’t think I would be sending an issue out on Christmas Eve and another on New Year’s Eve!

Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter this year. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Merry Christmas 🎄!


❤️ Picks of the Week

🛠 Tool - Go Funko Yourself. I have a few FunkoPops sitting in my office and my wife and kids like them too. There is a Microsoft Designer prompt going round where you can turn yourself into a FunkoPop. It is good fun. This is me if I were a FunkoPop and my hair wasn’t receding!

🧩 Puzzle - GCHQ Christmas Puzzle. Every year GCHQ come out with a Christmas puzzle. It is actually aimed at secondary school children (11-18) but it is good fun. I must admit I struggled with questions 5 and 7 and ended up guessing the final answer from my other answers.

📝 Article - All code is technical debt. An interesting view on technical debt. Writing code comes with a cost, and we need to make sure that features we add are more valuable than the technical debt that they will inevitably create.

📝 Article - Advice for new software devs who’ve read all those other advice essays. Some useful advice for new developers that you may not have heard before. I particularly like numbers 7, 8 and 10.

📝 Article - Mickey, Disney, and the Public Domain: a 95-year Love Triangle. An insight into the fascinating history of Disney, Mickey Mouse and the Public Domain.

📝 Article - New Mind-Reading “BrainGPT” Turns Thoughts Into Text On Screen. With just a cap on your head it can turn your thoughts into text. Depending on what your thoughts are like this could be a little worrying, but I can see this being of great use for disabled users.

📝 Article - Biggest productivity killers in the engineering industry. I have been guilty of every single one of these productivity killers at some point. I am sure I am not the only one.

📝 Article - Jason Fried challenges your thinking on fundraising, goals, growth, and more. I really enjoyed this podcast with Jason Fried. The team at 37 Signals are starting Once. Subscription free software that you only pay for once that you can host yourself. I am not sure how this will work with open-source software, but I am interested to see how it will work.


💬 Quote of the Week

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe.

  • Marilyn vos Savant

🙏 Was this helpful? If you want to say thanks, I love coffee ☕️ , any support is appreciated.