We all have our weak sides, areas of knowledge that are way too far from an acceptable level. What is an acceptable level then, is all a matter of what you do and what’s the purpose of your knowledge. Changing job or project is going to greatly influence what will be your skill set in twelve months, more time flow then more your toolbox of skills shift toward a specific area, possibly fading till a tiny set of abilities, a set small enough to put you off the market.
We work in an environment changing rapidly, growing continuously in complexity and diversity. Is very easy to sit on the laurels and just let the time pass, collecting the benefits of a good salary, a good life/work balance, some nice people and free soda in the office. You know what, the moment you stop moving forward is the beginning of the end, is the moment you’re already stepping back, your knowledge is going to be obsolete soon.
If that’s your ambition, to be the average corporate pawn then you’re good to go already! Just start working for the nearest corporation, put on your favorite slippers and enjoy the free coffee. How simple is that?
Unless a corporate layoff will kick you off your comfortable position, you’re going to do the same thing with the same people till your retirement. Well, the name of the project will change, the name of the people and the process will change as well, they’ll have a different face but fundamentally everything is going to be the same. In order to grow drastic changes are needed, unless you’re one of the very few lucky people doing something really challenging, something which will require you to work on a vast set of skills continuously, but that’s not very common.
I’m not trying to sell you the story that what normally corporate people do at work is easy or not a challenge at all, in fact what we do it is always a form of challenge. Narrowing our knowledge and becoming ultra specialized is not bad nor it is an easy task, after years of digging the hole you’re working in you become an expert of that hole, and unless you want to exit the hole and try to dig somewhere else, then you’re good with what you do! Dig more and more!
Unfortunately digging that very same hole all the time is a kind of strong sedative, you’ll not notice how’s changing the world around you, everything keeps moving forward..
Moving to another deep hole of the same size and kind can become problematic, very few companies are willing to hire someone which have no idea what’s going on out of the hole where that very same company want to put that employee in.. Weird huh? And just to be clear, I do not like deep holes…
That being said, is better to do some homework after work, learn what’s going on in the technology industry, maybe learn a new language and anyway workout your skills. Cultivate an interes or a passion for a technology you’re not using at work, this will make you a better engineer at first, and most importantly will allow you to be ready to deal with changes, possibly for your own will to change.
On the other side trying to study everything from any possible source make no sense, I believe that from time to time one should perform a kind of self-evaluation, what do you want to do in five years? What is going to make you a better sw. engineer? What would you like to learn?
I spent the last two year working on my algorithmic skills, that’s something I like very much and on which I would like to work further in my spare free time, possibly one day even at work. I neglected something tho, my system analysis and design skills, this is something I knew since a while but I didn’t take any step in the direction of fixing this weak side of my knowledge, well you know what? It’s pretty much the time go fix this problem.
I reserved as well too less time learning more about the current industry revolution going on, SaaS,IaaS,PaaS,Big Data &c,. For this reason, I ordered a couple of books which may serve as tools to learn more about those topics, one is specifically about system analysis and design, and the second about big data processing, the tools will be available soon, the will and motivation is not missing as well.
Make sure your next step is a step forward, try to think in perspective and create an image of yourself in five years, and start now working on the path to reach the yourself you want to be! Work hard, always! Nothing important come easy.
Thanks for reading!