Continuous Learning

The world is moving. In our industry, it moving rather fast. Too easily, as individuals, we can be left behind.

On most days at work, I find a preponderance of opportunities to learn. Some days, I’m just putting in lines of code. Those days are sluggish. I tend to get more excited and productive in work-seasons that I have the chance to learn new concepts or technologies.

Thankfully, I’ve worked at a large company, where I can find or meet a colleague that has advanced skill in something we wish to learn. Sometimes, I can use their code as a template for what I need to do. I can also get their help to get me started learning, where that person introduces me to core-concepts. If the sharing is good enough, it can translate into a shared code-base. It can also turn into code-review or pair-programming. It might be difficult to find people in this position, but the work of finding someone like this is worth it!

Sometimes, finding a colleague with specific skill is not available. Certain technologies we need could be be too new. We might also want to learn while we’re between jobs. (Being between jobs is a perfect time to learn new things!) In these cases, we need to get creative. Let’s break down some ideas.

Conferences, Meetups

Nothing beats meeting people in person: people whose professional goals match your own. We can extend our professional network, learn about how others are solving problems, and learn about great new solutions.

Many conferences have add-ons for training. 10 years ago, I attended a conference that included also a boot-camp to learn Jenkins, a tool for building software. It meant a few additional days of travel and a little additional money, but the benefit of getting hands-on training was huge.

Some conferences are expensive, but take heart! In many cases, conferences are streamed live or available on video. Consider, for example, QCon, a software conference in San Francisco. All of their 2018 talks are available online. This does prevent us from meeting other professionals, but the great core learnings are available. They can also be shared with our teammates.

Many urban areas have great meetups! Consider a meetup in Boston called TechBreakfast. At this kind of meetup, we see both new software concepts and investors meeting in the same place. (Not to mention free breakfast) This is a huge win for all attendees. Is there a meetup like this in your town? If not, what kind of technology meetups are in your town?

Online Learning

Most of us on software teams are no longer at university. We cannot easily enroll in a university class. Happily, we have many opportunities to take classes. It’s easy to find what we need! Many of these courses are cheap or available with a free-trial.

Besides these courses, many companies that promote technology also make helpful videos for their technology. Consider, the following:

These are just a few that I found. Take a look on YouTube for what you need. Lots of folks make videos about technology, but the best documentation comes from the original authors of the technology.

Learning doesn’t have to be about taking courses or attending conferences. Learning happens when we face any kind of new challenge. What kinds of ways are you learning?