Structure your training...
I think I'll start at when I realised having structure to my training was so important. A month or so ago the Head Of Development that gave me my job as a Junior Software Developer had left and his replacement stepped in. Naturally I was a little nervous because the other manager knew my skill set inside and out and employed me on that basis, the new manager now has to get to know my skill set and hopefully decide if I'm still worth my position.
In his first week we sat down and he explain he was worried about me as a Junior because I'm 29, nearly 30 and have a young family. I think in the past his Juniors are usually graduate with nothing else to do but spend their time studying and practicing. That being said he was really impressed with my attitude and desire to learn this job and I get the feeling he has high expectations for me as the combination of attitude and skill can lead to a successful developer.
He asked me to plan over the next week what I want to learn over the next three months, how I want to learn these things and explain how I will know if I have learnt them. I did exactly that, I had to remind him of the meeting he asked us to have and then I presented what I want from working here. With this in mind we sat down and planned the next two weeks. He gave me loads of ideas on how to structure my learning and how to break ideas down into achievable tasks and then set myself a timeline for delivering them.
I am only two weeks in but I can feel the benefits of this already, not just with my technical skills but with my confidence. Today I was asked some questions that two weeks I definitely wouldn't have been able to give answers to, in fact its unlikely that I would have even understood the question. I was so happy to be able to give the answers that they wanted, I'm pretty sure they were very simple questions to answer but either way it's the first time I have noticed any improvement in my progression.
What am I doing differently?
All I have done is set aside 45-60 minutes a day 4-5 days a week, I stay in the office after work and get training, the company I work for pay for a linkedIn learning account, I use this to understand some basics, I then have a go with what I know and if I get stuck, I don't refer back to the course but I turn to google for some answers and then when I reach my limit I watch the same course again (I'll admit I do speed it up the second time round). It sounds like a strange process but it works for me, I learn some basics, I practice them and then I confirm what I have learned and sometimes pick up additional bits that I may now have understood first time round.
I find it so useful spending this time in the office at the end of the day, the office is quiet and sometimes I am the only one left, there are absolutely no distractions apart from the occasional chat with the CIO discussing what I am learning, fortunately he is as interested in my progression as I am.
How lucky am I?
I keep thinking how lucky I am to be in such a good position with this company but, with such luck comes responsibility. It's easy to expect to learn everything you need "on the job" but where is the fun, where is the sense of achievement and where is the challenge in that! This is certainly a massive learning curve from me and I think I would struggle if it weren't for the support I get at home and from my colleagues but this is journey is fantastic and as long as I can stay this committed to my training and progression I am confident that I will be a commitment software developer in no time!