6 answers

How can I keep myself from being obsolete?

Asked San Luis Obispo, California

I am a second year student in college studying computer science looking to go into the field of software development. In the software industry, many people seem to find at least one language or skill which they've mastered completely. But with technology changing and advancing every day, what can I do in order to "keep up" with the new technology not only to prevent myself from being out of a job but also to constantly become better at my job? #technology #computer-software

6 answers

David’s Answer

Updated

Become proficient with overall system architecture and design and at least one or two popular technologies or methodologies in each major component of system development. For example in programming, you might learn JavaScript of Python. For database you could learn a relational DB like Oracle or Microsoft SQLServer or a non-relational DB like Redis. You could also concentrate on tools in a particular cloud stack like AWS or Azure. For development methodologies you might learn Agile. The point is to become proficient with these basic building blocks and you'll find that you can pick up other tools easily. As far as the specific technologies.. explore what type of system development interests you and then search the job boards and trades for the popular technologies.

Updated
Your answer is great David, thanks so much for sharing your expertise! At this moment there are more than 800 unanswered questions so I wanted to encourage you to keep going! So many students will benefit tremendously from hearing from you. Keep up the great work!

Esther’s Answer

Updated
Agree with Kim's comment above. It's important to schedule time in your week to learn something new, read up on latest technology trends or get out and talk to people about what technology they are using. Many people feel like they don't have time to keep up with new technology. But if you just set aside 15 minutes per week to learn about a new technology, that adds up to at least 12 hours per year of learning!!! And that new information you learn may help you come up with a creative idea that will help you excel in your job. I also use the Appy Geek app to learn about latest technology trends. #technology

Kim’s Answer

Updated Cary, North Carolina
Most people think its employer’s job to keep employees trained and relevant but actually it’s on employees shoulders. Jobs are always changing with technology and innovations. It’s not always easy to predict or follow sometimes. Learning basic, keeping certificates and taking training classes companies or outside vendors offer on the latest greatest always gives you an edge. “Knowledge is power and always learning something new every day” was motto Albert Einstein believed and I personally follow.

John’s Answer

Updated

That's an outstanding question, and one I'm certainly passionate about.


My first tip: Never think you're "done". Never stop learning. One recommendation I heard years ago that I've tried to maintain is "learn a new language every year". You're not going to master a language in one year, but become familiar enough with the basics to write some simple programs. Then, if something changes in your job and the boss asks "does anybody know X", you can say "I do!"


What do you study? My suggestion for that is to look around on the web. Check the Tiobe index to see what languages are trending. Read job boards (like dice.com) to see which skills companies are hiring, and check which computer books are selling hottest on Amazon or O'Reilly. Naturally, also take your own preferences into account. If you really hate writing HTML, don't go for a web developer position.


Finally, subscribe to some newsletters in your chosen technologies. For example, I subscribe to JavaWorld, MySQL, and PHP Architect, to name a few. Those will keep you up-to-date on the technologies you already "know".



John recommends the following next steps:

  • Subscribe to a newsletter for your favorite language.
  • Search dice.com, cybercoders.com, etc. for the technologies people are hiring for.
Updated
Your answer is great John, thanks so much for sharing your expertise! At this moment there are more than 800 unanswered questions so I wanted to encourage you to keep going! So many students will benefit tremendously from hearing from you. Keep up the great work!

Joanne’s Answer

Updated Montclair, New Jersey
I don't believe anyone masters anything in IT, especially where software is concerned. Build a strong fundamental base, so if you learn one language, you can learn the others. Become familiar with certifications - CISSP, Amazon architect, etc .... IT is constantly evolving so you will always be seeking knowledge.

Eric’s Answer

Hi Kevin - This is a great question. I've been in the tech field for about 20 years now and I've found that the best way to stay relevant / not become obsolete is to be curious and proactive about all aspects of a business, company, non-profit, etc. This means spending some time researching and learning about new technologies, languages, development approaches, etc as you've mentioned here. BUT it also means looking at how the technology you're developing provides value to the business you're in and the customer it serves. The more you understand the larger picture and what drives value for the business - the more valuable you become. A person who understands both the technology and the business sides of a business is worth their weight in gold.

Eric recommends the following next steps:

  • Spend time researching technologies and their applications online. (likely you're already doing this).
  • Connect with non-technology students who are studying business administration HR, marketing, sales, professional services, etc. Get curious about their day-to-day lives, what they care about, and how they're using technology. Understand how what you do connects to what they do and how it helps drive value for the business.
  • Network with existing professionals in the tech industry in which you want to work. (Make sure to include professionals from all areas of the business as listed in #3 above.) Buy them a coffee, ask for their perspectives on where the technology market is heading, the hurdles they've encountered, etc. Take copious notes, compare notes from multiple people and look for commonalities. If you do this often enough (every 3 to 6 months), it will tell you whether you're headed the right direction or not.