You all know how this business is alike: if you’re not learning, you’re getting out of the game quickly - knowledge that is more than 3 years old is pretty much worthless. That’s why you should use every possible opportunity to invest in your self-development: fortunately many companies understand that pretty well already. This blog post is just a collection of hints - these are the rules I follow personally. Enjoy and feel free to comment:
- If your current employer doesn’t have anything like a training budget (or an equivalent) - make yourself a favor and tell the jerks good-bye ASAP. It’s a waste of time really as they should really understand that:
- If your current employer has a training budget but its usage is limited to some useless internal crap-training or some other bullshit you don’t find applicable in your future career - well, you’ve seen the suggestion above, right?
- Choose your training wisely - DON’T waste budget on some fundamental trainings (you can learn easily on your own) like 'SQL Server Fundamentals', 'Introduction to ASP.NET MVC', etc. - this knowledge is very common, you can find on-line courses, books, tutorials, etc. - going for a classroom training like that is just wasting the money you could spend on something far more valuable.
- Don’t limit yourself to basic class-room trainings - I seriously advice you to take part in conferences - it’s great way to get yourself acknowledged to what’s going on IT, to meet real thought leaders (not some corp bullshitters), to have your mindset “reset” a bit as well. Any particular conferences in the region (Central Europe)? Sure - Craft (http://craft-conf.com/), Build Stuff (http://buildstuff.lt/) or NDC (http://www.ndcoslo.com/).
- Be cautious about “promotional offers” - all the major vendors organize trainings & local conferences that are pretty much the constant flow of marketing bullshit. Minimum content, maximums sales slides = waste of time & money. Check the event carefully before registering for, always.
- Be pragmatic - go only for something that has a serious chance to be useful in the future: sometimes it means doing something a bit boring like PMP or ITIL, but for some roles it IS A BASELINE and you can’t afford skipping such a thing really (even if the knowledge gain won’t be significant if any). Do it, don’t delay it.
- Classroom trainings are nice, but don’t forget about the on-line courses - usually it’s not a big spending and the value value-for-money ratio may be outstanding. Examples? Pluralsight (http://pluralsight.com/training), Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/).
What if you’re a contractor and you just do your short-term duty here and then, swapping the client & location every 3-6 months? It doesn’t change things much - you still should do all of the above, but it’s you and only you who should set up your own training budget. It’s a money really well spent.
Fortunately, not all the good trainings / conferences have to be paid for:
- there are many good local conferences you don’t have to pay for (like DevDay in Poland - http://www.devday.pl/)
- many internet e-learning providers are free of charge as well: take Coursera (mentioned above) or Duolingo (yes, learning languages is a great investment as well!)
- many good international conferences publish their materials online for free - usually with some delay, but majority of the content doesn’t age that fast. Examples: NDC, Build, DevDay.
- try local interest groups - you can’t really imagine how much you can benefit (and make others benefit as well) by participating in such meet-ups: you can meet and network with people who share the same interest, problems and share with them your experiences - both bad and good, and ideas as well. If you have no clue how to search for such groups, start with the Meetup (http://www.meetup.com/), it may help you.