A week ago I had the pleasure of speaking to/with Computer Science students at University of Pula. The working title was “Full-fed or a Developer?” and the idea was to present a real life view on what it is to be a developer. Although this was formally a lecture, me and my colleagues (5 of us) imagined this to be more of an “involved theatrical show”, but it seems the students were too much into their “sit and listen” mode to be able to break the habits. Or we were boring. Take your pick 🙂
From gaining weight, through loosing eye sight and suffering socially, all the way to the preferred language and the rest of the developers tool-belt, I believe they got at least a glimpse of the “glorious” life to be 🙂 Well, it was is not all that black, and in the end the conclusion was that we do it because we like it, so all the difficulties actually don’t weight in too much.
From all this, what actually stick with me was a few questions from a student.
First question was: How to practice our skills?
Among a number of answers, a few were common:
- get on Github and read code
- listen to the community / podcasts of the platform / language of their choice
- get out and write something, post it to Github, let people comment
- write a blog about their experiences
- join some open source project and offer help (documenting if nothing else)
You might notice that we didn’t offer one very important thing, and that was actually the second question: How to decide which direction to take in practice? How do I choose a thing to do? And of course, she was right on the spot.
So, the best we could offer was to listen to FLOSS Weekly. It offers the chance for beginner to listen to people that are actually behind so many great projects, and then decide which appeals to them the most. Whether they choose by the author of the project or e.g. by technology used or whichever thing points them in that direction, I feel it is a great way of choosing. Somehow it seems to me that it is a matter of heart, and that can never fail.
Very good questions, that didn’t spring to mind until she asked them. We talked about importance of practice, of reading other peoples code, of communication in teams, tolerance and what not but skipped that very important part, how to learn all of that. Actually, I found these questions to be very important for life (and craft), and the attitude correct and fair. Hope it will bring good things to her, and maybe she’ll be both full fed and a happy developer 🙂