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5 Tips To Becoming A Flash Rockstar

June 21st 2007 | Andrew Brown

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5 Tips To Becoming A Flash Rockstar

Flash Rockstar is a term that has gained some popularity in the United States in the past couple of years. As more and more companies fight for the same market, they continue to move into advanced technologies as a way to differentiate themselves from their competition. To do this they need the brightest and best engineers they need the Flash Rockstar.

First, a quick definition: A Flash Rockstar is a flash engineer that is not only at the cutting edge of the technology, but is actually on the blade slicing through barriers and expanding the capabilities of the tool. A Flash Rockstar is the person that every company wants and who can name his or her own price for their services. While the groupies differ from "real" rockstars, Flash Rockstars have them in the form of newgroups and bloggers emulating their work.

As a recruiter that specializes in finding software engineers I have the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of potential candidates every month- trying to find the next great developer for my clients. Here are 5 tips that I can offer to get you closer to being a Flash Rockstar. If you have these qualities, you will write your own ticket.

Don't Get Too Comfortable

I speak with a lot of really good people who just don't want to move out of their comfort zone. You'd be surprised how many times I'm looking for an Actionscript 3.0 developer and find someone who is an expert in 2.0 but doesn't want to take the leap. They think that because they have the expertise in a specific product, they can continue to ride the wave to never-ending success. While it is very true that Actionscript 2.0 is still frequently used, you must be willing to take things to the next level to excel.

Additionally, expand your knowledge base with the tools. Flex and Flash are NOT that different from one another. I speak with a lot of people of are a whiz in Actionscript 3.0 but who are afraid to jump between flex and flash.

Explore On Your Own/Take On Side Projects

A lot of people strive for an 8-hour workday that they can leave and be free from until the next morning. While balance is important for any person's sanity, choosing how to use your additional "hobby-time" is an important step in becoming a Flash Rockstar. Maybe that "hobby-time" is only a couple of hours each week, and you share it with other activities like golf or dressing up like a Jedi Knight, but find some time for advancing your work. Even if it's 8 total hours every month to familiarize yourself with a new technology it can go a long way.

Then take that knowledge and apply it. Commit to building a friend a website in Flash 9 for his fledgling band. You get to work on your skills, and if his band takes off maybe you'll have a new paying side job. If you get your work out there people will notice.

Know Your Community

Blog. Read blogs. Know the current Rockstars and reach out to them. The best Flash people I know are the ones who are up to speed with the flash community and checking out new open source projects regularly to watch those pushing the limit of the technology. This goes back to taking on a side project- a blog is a simple example of how to do that. It's a networking event without all the phony schmoozing.

Know The Back End

This could very well be the most important tip of all in your quest to be a Flash Rockstar. The glitz and glam of Flash and clever animating is great, but do you know who gets paid $150 an hour? It's the people who are true software engineers. The developers who know Java and .Net and PHP are the people needed on the back end. Knowing the ins and outs of as many object oriented programming languages as possible will get you further than anything else. Learning how to query relational databases will also go a long way to separate you from the pack.

Don't Be So Eager To Be A Manager

You've heard the expression, "those that can't do ... teach." While this isn't always the case, there is some correlation to how you set your career path and becoming a Flash Rockstar. I speak with a lot of people who are looking for the "next step" in their career and for most of them they think that means management. While there are exceptions, the fact that you are a great programmer doesn't mean you can manage people, and even if you are a great manager it often means you are taken away from the code. Management means dealing with extra meetings and extra administrative work. While you can be rewarded for leading a group's efforts, things become more about the bottom line and you WILL lose touch with technology, at least to some degree.

Instead of shooting for "manager" look for career advancement in other ways. For some, that means doing their own thing and becoming a freelancer. For those who want to stay under the company umbrella look for "team lead" roles, in most organizations that provides the experience of having a team under your watch, while still being hands-on with the work.

Conclusion

How do you rate yourself? Do you have what it takes to be a Flash Rockstar? Are you already there? If so, you are certainly desired and have many options. There are many people vying for your services. I know I'd like to talk to you on behalf of my clientele, and while you probably won't become a rockstar success overnight remember you're only the great project away.



Andrew Brown is a Recruiter for Contract-Placement Associates. He recruits on IT and Management Consulting positions focusing strongly in the area of Software Engineering. He resides and works in the Washington, DC area, but speaks with candidates across the country for contract and full-time positions. He also works with candidates looking for full-time work, but who can work remotely. Andrew can be reached at this email or at 301.287.8316.

 

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