Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

Finding Time to Learn new Things

· by roy · Read in about 3 min · (435 Words)
Categories: Software Development | Tags:

Someone responded to my post on things to learn in 2019 by asking how one finds the inspiration to learn all of the things. Well, my first answer was that those are just things I find interesting and may look into, but that’s not really an answer for the inspiration part.

Software development is a very wide field, one where the amount of things you can learn increases daily, so it’s almost impossible to keep up with everything. I think that having a natural tendency or curiosity towards learning new things is a distinct advantage in this industry. Having at least some passing familiarity with a wide range of technologies gives you more options in both job hunting and deciding on technical approaches.

When interviewing developers, I often viewed it as a distinct advantage when a candidate invested their own time in trying out new tech. However, I realize that spending your own time to learn things on your own is another form of privilege that I have. Not all developers will have the free time or motivation to do that unless it was part of their work tasks. So insisting that developers should do this in their free time is a bit elitist to say the least.

I read a blog post the other day saying it’s actually beneficial for companies to pay for their employees to learn stuff during work time. Quote:

Giving developers time to learn makes good business sense in a competitive world where attracting and retaining skilled people is an advantage in the marketplace.

While this makes sense, the problem with this is that from experience, many companies are running their projects on very tight schedules, some often almost always behind schedule, which makes giving developers free time for self-improvement will often be unattractive to higher-ups. I know that in my previous jobs, the only way I could justify learning a new technology would be if it was required or important for a specific upcoming project. In a way, having the space to allow developers this privilege is in itself a privilege that not all companies can afford.

Supposedly in the modern softeare industry, demand for developers is still high compared to supply so individuals should still have some leverage here and should vote with our feet. Younger or entry-level developers should ask companies about their policies for upskilling their employees and prefer those which give them more opportunities, and disfavor companies where the devs’ technical knowledge tends to stagnate, so that companies will learn to adjust. Such factors can only be good for their career in the long run.