In January I went to the annual You Got This! conference in Birmingham. It’s a one day conference for early-career developers to talk about the non-technical skills needed for a happy and healthy worklife.
I was there for the morning sessions and attended three talks:
- “It’s not your job to love your job” by Keziyah Lewis
- “Learning to invest in your future” by Matthew Gilliard
- “How to find your perfect mentor” by Amina Adewusi
I came back with many insightful thoughts for early-career developers. One of the things I thought about was that we’re constantly learning. Any kind of skill you would like to learn can be achieved through practice. And when learning a new tool or new framework, repetition and consistency of practising is really important. I wanted to share some more thoughts about learning and why failure isn’t always something negative.
Failures are a part of learning
Failures can be looked at as great successes, and our workplaces should be a safe space where it’s fine when things don’t work the first time. It’s a learning curve and you have to forget about making mistakes so that you can enjoy the learning experience rather than just always achieving production-ready code first time.
We should try things, ship them, and learn from the successes and failures. It’s best to focus on delivering the best solution, not the appropriate one for time/effort we can spend on it.
Social learning and networking
Going to conferences, meetups, pairing, and social learning can be really fun! Finding like-minded people and sharing your learning journey can be exciting, as you can build a support network and friendships.
Working in a community of people who are trying to learn helps make failure okay and sharing mistakes and lessons can help your peers.
Find your learning style
You should step out of your comfort zone and push yourself so you can then improve and grow your skillset and knowledge. Create goals so that you can learn, evaluate, create, analyse and have feedback loops.
Work on the fundamentals
Consider keeping a learning journal
Keeping a “Today I learned” journal is beneficial in many ways. For example, when reviewing the year’s worth of learning, it’ll create connections between things that weren’t obvious at the time and identify fundamentals that are critical in your experience. It also helps keep track of your project work and performance.
The conference also helped me think about how to invest in yourself, advice on writing daily journals, and a “brag sheet” for your professional reviews. When you look back on past work and your brag sheet, it’s totally normal and natural to see it and think that you can do better now. This is a natural thing and shows that you’ve progressed and learnt a lot since the work was originally done.
Overall, I found this conference very useful and felt the topics were quite fitting. It was a great reminder to take yourself back to the basics as well as developing through social learning, building up your confidence to be a speaker, and making yourself known.
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