Always Be Learning

I’d like to say that I’m a good learner. I haven’t always been able to say that, especially in school sometimes.

That has changed over time as I’ve gone through my career as a software developer. This field is moving at a frantic pace and if you don’t keep up, you’ll wake up one day and know nothing.

How does anyone keep up with it? The secret is self-education.

Learn to Learn

This is one thing that I’ve been doing ever since I got interested in being a developer, was being a good self-learner. I honestly believe that is a skill that can be learned. pun intended. It’s also something that takes practice.

Self-education is the skill that successful people use to great affect that make them seem, ‘successful’. I can guarantee any person you look up to will tell you something to that effect. Talent does play a part, but it’s rarely the sole purpose of success.

Although I’m not successful in the way most people view that term, I do feel that I am good at be able to effectively teach myself. My career thus far has required me to do 90% .NET development. That hasn’t stopped me from becoming proficient in Ruby, or doing a number of blog posts on Node.js, or finally getting my head wrapped around NoSQL.

Even if you don’t use something every day, if it interests you, learn about it. Just the process of taking the time and diving in, is vital to opening up your mind for other things to come.

This leads me into my next point.

Be Proactive

“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” -Herbert Spencer

That quote is perfect for the theme of this post, taking action.

Don’t settle, don’t stagnate. Always be challenging yourself. When you become comfortable with where you are in your knowledge set, that’s the moment you get passed up by the realm of technology.

Just because you may be content with how you work now, doesn’t mean that you won’t be looking to update your resume tomorrow. That’s a grim possibility, but it’s something that you always need to prepare for.

Actively seeking education, being proactive, is what keeps yourself marketable in this field. Any gain is better than none.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

I’ve talked about how you need to be responsible for your own education. Part of that is getting your current employer involved.

I’m lucky and I’m given a subscription to Pluralsight as a perk of the job. We are even allowed some company time to use the service. Though small, it shows that they are committed to the betterment of their developers.

Not all companies have that. This doesn’t pertain just to a screencast service, but attending conferences, code camps, or having people give weekly presentations internally are all fair game. I’d be willing to bet that it’s not because they don’t want to invest in something like that, but no one has asked for it.

Ask your boss. You may have to justify it as a sound investment, but the worst they can say is no. Their answer may tell you a lot about the company and how they view their developers. It also puts it in their mind that you are actively seeking to become better which may open up things down the road.

Put it into Practice

If you haven’t taken control of your own education, you need to do that soon. The tech field is something that has to be kept up on. It will take courage, persistence, and time to stand up and become your own educator, but the rewards can be endless.

Always be learning.