Keeping your skills sharp in an ever changing industry

Keeping your skills sharp in an ever changing industry

Given at the first NIdevConf 2017 on the 10th June.

Our industry evolves at breakneck speed. Being a developer is rewarding but keeping up with the latest technologies, techniques and tools is a constant struggle.

I share my experience of Continuous Learning, and failing to learn!, over the last seventeen years, discussing what I have done wrong, and what I have done right.

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Stephen McCullough

June 10, 2017
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Transcript

  1. 2.

    Who am I? • Stephen McCullough • Lead Engineer @

    ShopKeep • @swmcc on most interwebs • Co-organiser of: • Belfast Ruby • pyBelfast • Belfast Elixir • I will *try* and behave
  2. 4.

    “Sharpen” v “Hone” • I picked the title carefully believe

    it or not… • Why? • Honing - You “hone” a knife that’s already sharp to make it sharper. • Sharpen - You “sharpen” a knife that’s dull or partially dull.
  3. 5.

    -Stephen McCullough - Linkedin Intro “I have over seventeen years

    experience in web to database integration and transaction based web application development. I am an innovative self-starter, motivated by new challenges and an accomplished team leader with a professional and dynamic approach to the industry.”
  4. 6.

    Really?? Over seventeen years of experience?? • No! • Not

    even close! - Ten years at most! • Spent many years doing the same thing over and over again. • Dulling/blunting my skills overtime. • Not everyday is a school day. • Not growing as a developer.
  5. 7.

    10th January 2000 • 17 years, 5 months and 1

    day have passed since the 10th of January, 2000. • Music #1 - I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun - Westlife • Movie #1 - Stuart Little • Bill Clinton was US President • Tony Blair was UK Prime minister • I had *hair* and a *waist* • I started work at BlackStar.co.uk
  6. 8.

    Timeline of the jobs I have had • 2000 •

    BlackStar (programmer) • 2001-2002 • Bytel (programmer/sys admin) • 2002 - 2007 • BlackStar (programmer)
  7. 9.

    Timeline of the jobs I have had (part 2) •

    2007 - 2008 • Maildistiller (programmer) • 2009 • RehabStudio (programmer) • 2009 - 2012 • Tascomi (programmer)
  8. 10.

    Timeline of the jobs I have had (part 3) •

    2012 - 2013 • RepKnight (programmer) • 2013 - 2015 • MissionIQ (programmer) • 2015 - current • ShopKeep (programmer)
  9. 11.

    My Career Map • 2000 - 2004 • Learning my

    craft (programming) • 2004 - 2008 • Staying afloat • 2009 • A bit of learning • 2009 - 2012 • Stayling afloat • 2012+ • Sharpening and now learning
  10. 12.

    Learning your craft • Easy to learn at the start

    of a job/career • Everything is new • Through mistakes • Through mentorship • Honeymoon period • Wanting to prove yourself
  11. 13.

    Staying afloat • Nothing is new anymore • You can

    do your job/tasks at break neck speed • Mentorship is no longer required • Mistakes are rare • Easily rectified and known • No longer feel the need to prove yourself
  12. 14.

    A bit of learning • Event Driven Learning (EDL) •

    Not a nice situation to be in • Highly stressed • Not enjoyable • Means to an end • No endorphins to be found here • Diservice to your current company/colleagues
  13. 15.

    Sharpening now learning • A ‘watershed’ moment • Thursday night

    in early 2012 • Past colleagues started talking about their jobs • Words I never head of before • node / backbone / redis • A ‘watershed’ moment turned into a ‘oh moment’
  14. 16.

    How to sharpen? • Where did I start? • Basically

    read everything • Podcasts • Youtube videos • Code katas • Github/Gitlab stalking • Local community meetups
  15. 17.

    Consume content • Most of it is free and there

    is so much out there. • Blogs • Podcasts • Talks • Slack Channels • IRC rooms
  16. 18.

    Geek Crushes • Having a geek crush is an excellent

    way of learning. • Katrina Owen (github) • Paddy Carrey
  17. 20.

    How do you get to Carnegie Hall? • Code Katas

    • Sound awful but are actually very helpful • My kata of choice is the ordinal one. 1st 22nd etc • Yes it is very simple but helps me concentrate • Anyone that takes pride in their craft practises in some degree
  18. 21.

    Peer Review • Really the only way to get better

    • Codeschool • Pluralsight • They will only teach *how* to programme • Peer review is essential to being a better developer • Can be daunting but there are nice people out there
  19. 22.

    How to start • Open Source Contributions • Excellent way

    of learning • Passion is essential • Start an app with friends • Excellent way of learning • Passion is essential • Emulate peer review • http://exercism.io/
  20. 23.

    Local User Groups • Belfast has lots of user groups

    • USE THEM! • Get involved! • Local companies wanting to do good • Vibrant development community • Get involved!
  21. 24.

    Find a place that cares • I currently work for

    ShopKeep • They actually care!
  22. 25.

    Here it comes • If you care what others think

    then you’ll never really learn • People that aren’t worth thinking about • “I’ll let my work do the talking!” • “Oh you must think highly of yourself!” • “You like to show off!” • “I’m a better developer and don’t feel the need to” • ITS YOU THAT IS IN CHARGE!