It’s a world of ever-changing technology, and it’s quite uneasy for anyone to rely on a piece of knowledge for a long time without thinking of improving on it. The struggle becomes even tougher for people of color out there looking to survive on legit hustles.
What was new and hot yesterday, may become old and crusty today, leaving you in the circle of always seeking to update your knowledge of whatever skill you practice for a living. The world of technology is, perhaps, one of the most dynamic worlds out there. As a techie of color, you would either step up with the trend or get left behind in the circle of innovation going on around you. I have learned since my entry into the field that the key is to keep your skills up to date!
Now, I am not saying that you have to learn every new programming language and technology platform that comes along. Still, you sure need to keep your skills as sharp as possible and your mind as agile and adaptable as the technologies/tools you work with.
In this blog post, we will review a few useful steps that have helped me stay up to date with trends in the software development world that I would love to share.
You Need a Real Plan
Yes. There’s a big emphasis on the words ‘Real plan’. If you do not have a workable plan on how to keep your programming skills updated continuously, then you would not be able to advance your career as you want.
We’ve heard people say they want to lose shape several times but rely on exercising more and cutting back calories for it. That may be helpful, but no! It is not a plan. Or better still, it is a bad plan.
You need to have a real plan that you can track and follow to know when you veer off track. Your plan must be specific to qualify as good. If you say that you would work on losing fat by cutting down 400 calories from your daily intake, then by running once every day, becoming serious with your diet and lifting 2-3 times a week to keep lean muscle mass would mean that you’ve stepped from wishing to being serious.
Now you see the difference? Your plan included the details of how you intend to advance your skills.
In the remainder of this blog, we will be discussing some of the things that you might want to incorporate into your plan as you move to stay updated on your technology skills in this ever-changing field.
Read Blogs (…I promise the irony isn’t lost on me lol)
Over time, this has remained my daily way of staying up to date in the world of technology. Most experts recommend that you dedicate at least 30 minutes of your time daily to reading technology blogs.
If you are serious about your career, then you should have a changing list of blogs that focus on a multitude of tech-related topics. This would not only keep your skills updated, but it will also allow other people to do a bulk of the work for you. Blog posts from other software developers and tech companies give you insight into what’s trending and what you need to know in the tech world.
Read Books (… not as fun I know.)
Just like the blogs above, books help to put you at the top of the ladder in this field. It would help if you always tried to work your way through reliable books on the technicalities of specific tech topics you care about (software development, DevOps best practices, etc…). Depending on your reading skills, you can take between one to three months to finish a book.
Attend Events (personally, something I am working on doing more)
All around the year, exciting events are happening around the country and, most likely, in your city. If you live in a growing tech city as I do (shout out Baltimore, MD!!), then attending events is an excellent way to stay up to date with what’s new and noteworthy in an industry that’s continually changing.
Events range from code camps to conferences (Hack Baltimore and Agile Charm this month come to mind for example). They sometimes occur as less formal meetups, too (ImpactHub and SparkBaltimore are great places to find these kinds of meetups held by members in Baltimore, for instance). Find out which would be beneficial to your skill, spend a day there, and watch presentations from leaders in the field. (Or a Twitch video, shout out Aaron Brooks, CEO of Mastermind who runs a really dope DevOps and Python coding course broadcasted on Twitch based out of Baltimore, MD)
Finally, nothing beats constant practice in any skill. Don’t wait until you get a paid job to practice new codes. Learn to do it in your leisure time, and you will find how easy it is for you to handle paid jobs. Like the old saying, “Practice makes perfect!”
There you have it; these are the practices that will help you improve on your tech skills, especially as a person of color that’s looking to be on the top of your game. Each of the practices mentioned above is easy to do with little barriers to entry.
I hope these tips work for you as they have helped me throughout my careers as a techie first and business owner secondly. If you want to connect more about these approaches, or just any other tech topics of concern, connect with me, leave a comment on this post, or shoot me an email, I would love to hear back from the community.