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Jenny Shaw
Jenny Shaw

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Now You Have a Job! But How Does Learning Fit in at Work?

I'm now a professional junior developer, a little over 3 months in at very my first company, a tiny startup, and one of my team's biggest struggles has been figuring out how to integrate routine learning and education into a junior developer's work cycle.

I want to get the most out of my first dev job, especially as a junior dev of whom learning is expected! I want to help my team help me improve this aspect of my experience, so share your experiences with me here --

👉🏼 What have your companies done to make sure that you learn and grow as developers while also balancing work?

Top comments (4)

tinuola profile image

Part of this depends a lot on your team's values and actions around growth and professional development. Learning should be expected of ALL developers, not just "Junior Devs". Does your team collectively embrace learning as key to every developer's job? If so, how is that demonstrated day-to-day? (Not just by going to conferences once or twice a year.)

In my case, I have a manager who embodies this value and has put actions behind it. For example, he bought team subscriptions to Front End Masters, Coursera, Vue Mastery and so on. To make sure developers HAD TIME to learn, he introduced "Learning Fridays". On Fridays, there's no active dev work (unless it's something critical). And to make sure sure we're using our Fridays as intended, we have a learning sprint board and stand-ups to track our progress. We also have monthly Jam sessions where 2-3 devs give 15-30 minute presentations about the outcome of their learning.

Basically, if you're expected to learn, the key question to be asking first is how does your team's environment and culture support that? Look around.... Ideally it shouldn't be all on you. Ask other developers on your team about how they learn. If learning is actively encouraged/embraced then someone should be able to give you pointers on what they're doing. If it's not (as in it's all talk) then perhaps you ARE on your own and may have to dedicate some nights and weekends to leveling up.

jenshaw profile image
Jenny Shaw

Until recently, professional growth and development was something we had to work on ourselves -- we had to find time in our schedules where we could somehow squeeze it in. It didn't work out so well because the junior devs naturally prioritized completing feature tasks before the end of a sprint, and even though there's talk about dedicating Fridays to learning, we rarely ever found time for it because we're still trying to wrap up tasks with deadlines. I can only assume non-junior devs were doing their own reading up and research. But it wasn't, as you described, a collective team effort.

Lately, our lead has taken the initiative to thoroughly go through every task on our sprint and write out plans and code step by step before handing the task to us. The thought and effort is certainly there, but there could be some argument as to why this isn't exactly a fulfilling or efficient use learning or task time.

I've been super fascinated by the feedback I get from other devs on this topic and I intend to slowly introduce these ideas to my team and see what catches. But, yeah, in the meantime, I think that to satisfy my needs with growth and learning, I'll have to do a lot of the learning on my own where and when I can.

tarise profile image

Our training budget has allowed us to attend classes and conferences. I've been to a few here in the states and in Europe.

Also if I express that I'm interested in learning something, like Vue, VR, or machine learning, I'm given the opportunity to incorporate that learning into the workflow. The end result may be a proof of concept I can present or maybe a write-up saying how we may or may not benefit from this new thing.

At one point I proposed a company hackathon, and it was being concerned, but the company merged and we had to abandon it.

Oh and one more thing, years ago there were groups of cross functional teams within the company that got together during lunch or I think sometimes at the end of the work day.

Hope this helps.

jenshaw profile image
Jenny Shaw

Very helpful! I especially like the idea of self-directed learning and having to have a presentable proof on concept or writeup by the end. It seems valuable to be able to share that with your team and open opportunities and conversations for integrating new ideas and tools into what you're already working on.

Thanks for sharing!