A common interview question I have for college grads is “How will you stay up to date with software development once you leave college?” I find that some have actually started thinking about that which is good, some have actually learned new development languages by picking up books by specific publishers – whether it be Apress, O’Reilly, Wrox, Microsoft Press, etc and they may have found a style of documentation that works for them. Others may even be able to tell me specific online resources they use to track happenings in the technology world like Slashdot, Techmeme, and the like……..Still others I can tell have done some development outside of class as they are able to point out resources like CodeProject, Stack Overflow (for questions), Channel9 for Microsoft topics. All of which reinforce one good point.
There is NO (good) reason for someone in our industry claiming they cannot afford to continue to learn about technology and stay up to date.
Sure, I still love coming back from Barnes & Noble with a book in hand, and certainly Amazon and I are good friends, and while some of the best resources may be specific classes or books…….more and more, the content available freely on the Internet is staggering in its breadth and completeness. Some time back, I came across Josh Kaufman’s website “The Personal MBA”. I loved his whitepaper– it’s premise is that you don’t need to go back to Business school to gain MBA-like knowledge to learn more about the business side of life.
It presents topics and required reading in different topics such as Management, Strategic Thinking, and operations in general to advance your thinking on those topics and increase your knowledge. And with a reading list this his, I am finding great books that add to how I think.
Check out his whitepaper on the subject http://changethis.com/manifesto/98.02.PersonalMBA/pdf/98.02.PersonalMBA.pdf
“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library.”— Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon), Good Will Hunting
“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”— Isaac Asimov
Warren Buffet often mentioned that most everything you need to know about investment can be found distilled in Ben Graham’s books especially The Intelligent Investor & he mentions coming across the Dale Carnegie book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”at a Dale Carnegie class as a key factor in his early life.
Anyway, on that topic, here in Mitchell, our public library card also allows us to check out books at Dakota Wesleyan University also located in Mitchell, SD and with inter-library loans, more and more I am able to find most great books available to me for free, and with me being located in a rural state in a city of only 15K – that is pretty impressive. Heck, installing the Bing search bar on my PC at work and at home earns me free Amazon gift certificates for actual book purchases as well.
As far as me and my habits, I have Evernote installed on my home & work computers, and my tablet at home. So that no matter where I am when I come across some great resources to check out later, I just drag their links to Evernote and then when I get some free time and I am doing nothing at night, I check some of them out, for example, right now on my Evernote list I have a link to the recent PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) 24 Hours of PASS talks they just put online for everyone:
and some links to TED talks I have not watched yet such as this one that looked promising and that others had been talking about
And so, on the subject of continuing education, I have found note of the following offer in a few places, and its worth repeating – all MSDN subscribers are being offered some free online training via Pluralsight – Having used their training resources before I can tell you that they usually have high quality stuff so I am anxious to check this out
And finally, if you are a developer in the Microsoft tool space as I am – Don’t forget to check out the bottom of Jason Haley’s blog http://jasonhaley.com/blog/ (I have mentioned him a few times before – his blog is an awesome aggregator of software/career/business-related content as well as links at the bottom to other aggregated blogs – if I could only have one RSS feed for software-related news – his would be it ) – Anyway, at the bottom of his daily feed, which I sometimes forget about it, is his link to Rob Caron’s blog at Microsoft with his Top 10 Daily Links for Microsoft Developers – I can usually find good stuff in here that applies to me as well.
Meanwhile – the Matt Damon quote above is ringing true as at this very moment I have 3 books I need to get back to the library today as the library left a voice mail that they are overdue – bet I get a fine of 50 cents or so today – and it will be worth it.
It has never been easier to learn more in our careers.