People asked me, what do you think about university and education, how do we know what we should learn and how to prioritize our studies? All valid and taught questions. For most Brazilians, the university does not make sense. I get it why, because when you join the workforce, you see very few usages for the skills or subjects you were looking at university. So I believe there is a list of 5 essential aspects you need to consider before deciding to drop out(IMHO you should not drop out). So what are five elements I’m talking about:
- What is your goal?
- What makes you happy? Where do you want to go?
- Short vs. Long term
- No Boddy knows the future.
- Education vs. Learning
Let’s go trought them one by one. But before I went there, you need to keep in mind that this is your life, it’s your call and ownership at the end of the day, beware that nobody can answer this questions to you. Coaching and mentorship can deftly help you as you are starting your career or just pivoting or even just looking for advice. However, it is essential to keep in mind that mistakes are part of the process; there is no way you get a perfect moonshot with no errors after all mistakes are part of the learning path.
What is your goal?
For the software industry, this is a complicated question. Quickly we could say there are two paths (management and technical) however is not that simple. There are so many more branches like in a managerial way: you could go as Engineering manager(close to the tech and agile part), or you could choose the product-driven path with means working with experiments, discovery, UX, business analysis, etc..
For an engineering path, there two significant segments, being a specialist(Cloud, DevOps, Architecture, Data, Frontend) or being a Generalist know a bit of everything. It’s impossible to know everything; you need yo choose where do you want to land. So knowing whats is your goal will help a lot to focus and prioritize your studies. The big issue might be you dont know where you want to land or you might not have the opportunity to get there yet.
What makes you happy? Where do you want to go?
Short vs. Long term
IMHO education(academia) is about the long term is not about a short time. Most of the time, I believe people want results with zero or few-investment. So you need to acknowledge that what you are doing know might change, and you might change your opinion and things you like you might stop linking it — that might happen a lot. For instance, I use to like Scrum, and I don’t like it anymore. I use to like Clean Code, and I don’t like it anymore. So as my experiences happened, my opinion changed, which is all fine. Short term learning is needed. Often in a project, you might need to learn a new language and a new library. However, at the long term game, there are things(will improve and change) but will be less volatile like sloid computer science 101 things(which you learn in academia) like Algorithms, Data Structures, Formalism, Distributed systems. So I always worked with the Deep and Breath study model, where 80% of my studies are long term, and 20% of them are for a short time.
You cannot learn everything; our time is limited. So that I would say it is super important to limit your WIP. It’s the internet, twitter, your friends dictating and controlling your study plan, or is you on that control? Great stuff only comes from long term study.
No Boddy knows the future.
Things change, and technology changes; you might invest hours and hours in this that die. That happens, it’s not a problem. So again, I believe what matters is to learn more about your self. What do you want? Use cool bleeding-edge stuff, or do you want solid background CS skills? I would say both works very well. I would say always know the tools you use most of the time and prioritize long term skills.
Education vs. Learning
IMHO formal education and learning are entirely different things. Formal education is essential for you too, but it is not enough. Technology is about continuous learning, and you need to learn how to learn — starting by controlling the anxiety and letting it go(the control — nobody controls anything) and enjoying the journey. Again, no significant results come from short term investment. Do not worry too much about what you are doing now; it’s more important to have the mindset rather than the right outcome; direction is more important than speed.
IMHO books, papers, blogging about help a lot, but this is my way, it is no right or wrong, so you need to find your style and understand how you learn, some people work well with papers, others dont. Just keep in mind there can be tweaks and ways to change things — try to take judgment too fast.
Originally published at http://diego-pacheco.blogspot.com on May 9, 2020.