It is essential to constantly grow and learn as a developer, and it’s also a significant motivator for developers when changing jobs and looking for new roles. According to Triplebyte, the opportunity for professional growth is the biggest motivator for software developers when pursuing new opportunities.
We have developed various initiatives to upskill our developers, enabling them to use technology to achieve their potential. This blog will discuss the various ways we promote professional development and provides tips for developers looking to learn and grow within their busy schedules.
Learning culture at 4mation
Developers need an environment where they can learn; a place where people are open-minded to new ways of thinking and working. At product-focused companies, developers often work on one project and with legacy code. In these roles, developers have less choice around what languages they work with.
The pace is much faster in an agency. With the opportunity to implement full-fleshed projects in one go and then continually improve upon them, our developers are offered more freedom to implement, trial and test new technologies.
Incidental learning is critical to developers as they are usually time-poor, making on the job learning a highly effective and efficient form of education (HBR, 2019 – Harvard Business Review).
Tim Kelly, a Front End Developer at 4mation, finds on the job learning beneficial for his development:
“There are so many opportunities to propose projects and essentially use your favourite tools on a project, rebuild something or do something from scratch. Rather than just getting online memberships, you get the opportunity to learn things on the job and apply skills that you want to apply in real-world applications. That’s where I learn the most”. – Tim Kelly
In addition, Tim highlighted how working at an agency allows him to network with many developers and get involved with building new platforms rather than just managing them.
“You have way more devs working at an agency compared to the development team in companies. This means there are heaps of opportunities to network and meet good developers, which is especially important for juniors. ”- Tim Kelly
Through weekly meetings, the developers get dedicated time to either learn a technology of their choice or present to the team what they learned that week. Nicholas Kennedy, a .Net developer at 4mation, spoke about how the meeting time is structured and its value to him as a developer.
“Every Friday morning we have the dev meeting, which goes for about an hour and a half. During this time, you can either continue learning whatever technology you are trying to learn or do a presentation to the team about what you’ve learnt that week; discuss why it is cool and if you want to move in that direction. It’s an awesome chance to do research, get a better understanding of what’s out there and also have a sharing environment with other developers in our team.” – Nicholas
Another way we encourage knowledge-sharing at 4mation is through online chat groups, where developers can share their learning experiences and seek advice from the team. These groups ensure that valuable knowledge is shared with the whole team. Tim Kelly spoke about how the #TodayIlearned channel is a great chance to emulate what other developers within the business are learning:
“I quite like the #TodayIlearned slack channel. You find the developers you like to learn from, and you read their posts. I like hearing what Kieran Yeates and Sam Hodges (Team Leads at 4mation) are learning and recommending because I either need to know it now or eventually will.” – Tim Kelly
We also have a 4mation help channel where employees can post questions and help requests, no matter how big or small. Jarren Ong, a Mid developer at 4mation, shared his experience:
“The #4mationhelp channel is handy. People are always willing to jump in and help you out on your work and real-life problems.” – Jarren Ong
We ensure our team has the tools to learn and grow by providing them access to a range of learning platforms. This includes their own Udemy Business account, which gives them access to over 6000 courses.
Udemy is an excellent choice for the team as it breaks its courses into categories and offers the flexibility of self-paced learning. Each module lasts for approximately 15 minutes and users can easily replay modules they are struggling with. In addition, they have many classes, ranging in difficulty and topics, so our team can also use them for other interests and hobbies. Nicholas Kennedy spoke about how Udemy differs from other online learning platforms he has used in previous roles.
“The learning conventions in my current role are fantastic. The Udemy path they offer with recommended courses in the tech stacks that we want to implement or upskill in is great. In the past, I’ve had other learning platforms, but I find Udemy more guided and detailed.’’ – Nicholas
At 4mation, Mid Developer Akhil Singh is our most regular user of Udemy. He shared his experience with the learning platforms at 4mation.
“We have a great learning culture here at 4mation because we have access to a lot of resources: LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, A Cloud Guru etc. Plus subscriptions to almost all the online learning platforms. In my previous roles, we didn’t have subscriptions; we mostly relied on open-source material or whatever was present on google. It’s quite different at 4mation which is great.” – Akhil
Aside from Udemy pro, we also have a range of paid certifications that allow our developers to gain specialised expertise and prepare them for career development. Both Akhil and Nicholas are undertaking AWS paid certifications.
Making time for professional development & tips for developers
Developers are often time-poor and struggle to find time for their professional development. This is one of the reasons an agency is great, as developers are constantly working on novel projects and with new technologies. However, developers still need to find practical ways to grow in their own time. Our developers at 4mation gave some great tips on how developers can learn and grow faster.
4mation’s four tips to stay ahead of the game
1. Get into the habit of learning a little every day
“I’m curious and like to learn new things. Recently, a good habit I’ve developed is dedicating 30 minutes in the day to learning. I don’t overdo it; even if it’s just one video, I do it daily.” – Akhil
2. Look at some of Akhil’s suggested platforms and implement micro-level projects.
“ I spend a lot of time on platforms such as Reddit, Slashdot and Medium. Also, If you’re going to learn a new language, you should start implementing micro-level projects. Doing that will give you a better idea of the concepts, basics of the language and the skills you are about to learn. It could be a simplistic version of any bigger application. That has helped a lot in my case.” -Akhil
3. Break learning into small blocks and follow what you’re passionate about.
“If you have discipline, put in at least an hour a day. Getting started is the hardest part. While you have an interest in learning, go for it. Passion and motivation are only for a set time. ” – Jarren
4. If you’re a junior developer, get practical experience and focus on your own personal projects.
“As a junior developer, you need to apply for junior roles and get practical experience. You will learn way more by doing that, and it gives you the chance to apply what you know practically. Early on in your career as a developer, people want to see your personal projects. So, if you want to make websites, create one. As a junior developer, companies don’t care about your skills because you won’t have all of them yet. You should be focused on showing them your passion through your own work or Github page.” – Jarren
Jarren Ong | Mid Developer
- Working as a Mid Develoepr in Team Augmentation
- Enjoys learning by reverse engineering peoples websites and things he finds that are cool
- Enjoys listening to Chillhop while he works
- Skills developers need in 2022: Being able to explain things in technical and nontechnical terms