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Rafał Piekara
Rafał Piekara

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Dunning-Kruger developer

I suppose you are familiar with this feeling when, after completing one course or training, you have the impression that you have complete knowledge, expert knowledge. Be careful! You may have just been caught by Mr. Dunning and Mrs. Kruger. Simply put, the Dunning-Kruger effect is that when you know little you feel as if you know everything.

It is easy to fall under the illusion that 2 weeks may be enough to master a programming language well. Stuffing yourself with a large dose of knowledge puts you in a state of omnipotence. You have the feeling that there is no problem that cannot be solved, that you can compete in senior positions today.

Theory

A little theory about the Dunning-Kruger effect

Symptoms

Being in such a state becomes full of boldness and pride. It seems that there is no such recruitment question that you do not know the answer to. Unfortunately, this is only an illusion, so characteristic at the beginning of learning any thing. It is then easy for a total flop, an absolute failure, because there will always be someone at the recruitment interview who will be better than you. Who will crush you and drag you across the floor, so that you will be left for a long time to make any changes or apply for a new project.

This is how the Dunning-Kruger effect works. It throws us from the extreme to the extreme. The worst part about it is the lack of awareness of this state. Not understanding that you are only at the beginning of the road, that the more you know, the more you know, that you don't know, right?

That is why it is worth remembering at every step that there will always be someone who will crush us, be it in the company, during recruitment or even at a conference. Even if you have the feeling that your code is already awesome, it's "there is always a bigger fish".

Dunink-Kruger

How might the person with Dunning-Kruger affect colleagues? Absolutely destructive. Such a person breaks up the team. It's hard to work with someone who believes they have all the available knowledge. And if there is someone in the team who will not give up and will always try to demonstrate wrong thinking - a toxic atmosphere is guaranteed.

The path of self-reflection is priceless, remember that others can evaluate you. If you are blindly convinced of your own coolness, such an evaluation can be very painful. Nobody will take you seriously, because your shortcomings will be clearly visible on the palm of your hand.

Rewriting the course doesn't make you an expert. The only thing you can get out of it is a very narrow view of the problems or technology discussed by the author. I mentioned the limits of knowledge above. Let me explain this a little more. There is such a thing as the circle of knowledge and the limits of ignorance.

Imagine a small circle one centimeter in diameter. Can you calculate the circumference of this circle? You surely remember the pattern. And the field of the circle? Sure. So the area of the circle is the boundary of your knowledge, its length is the amount of knowledge that you currently believe you lack. You start learning, you do courses, bootcamps, training. Your circle of knowledge begins to grow, but with the circle, the circumference begins to increase with the circle. The boundaries of your ignorance are becoming more and more extensive.

As you learn new content, you start to see new areas for exploration. The more you know, the more you don't know.

What if I told you that there is no limit point, that this wheel can grow forever? Does it scare you? Frightens? And it shouldn't! The only feeling that should accompany you is humility, such simple, simple humility, humility in front of the fact that in a world filled with information, on the threshold of such a dynamically changing and developing IT industry, so many things remain to be known, while we still know little.

Are you a course addict?

The Dunning-Kurger Effect often affects course addicts. There is this development addiction phenomenon. We buy course after course, book after book, preferably from several different fields. Courses, such as courses, either give a very general overview of an issue and in fact, we only learn the basics, or they touch on a very narrow specialist section of the issue. In both scenarios, just completing the course, completing training, reading a book does not make us experts. And yet it is easy to get the feeling that after this specific course we can deal with any project, any problem that comes up before us. Expertise is determined by the experience, number and weight of solved problems, experienced crises and victories. An expert does not need to have a certificate and a litany of training sessions listed on their Linkedin profile. An expert must have poured liters of sweat, blood and tears behind him. Expertise is like a precious metal, it is forged under extreme conditions.

I have conducted trainings for people who want to change into programmers. In the middle of the course, which lasted 12 weeks, the students asked me questions about their financial requirements during recruitment interviews, because they would like to look for a job. 6 weeks after starting the programming course, completely from scratch. Then I was shocked! Today I understand it more!

I was shocked because I was entering the industry even before being a programmer became fashionable. There were no bootcamps and all these programming schools. There were no such developed frameworks. Programming wasn't as sexy as it is now. There was no React, Vue etc, it was revolutionary to use jQuery instead of Vanilla. My learning was difficult, access to the materials was more difficult. For this reason, it is easier today to see similar differences in perceiving knowledge and falling into a state of overconfidence and enthusiasm. I have nothing to do with this type of bootcamp or training, I would probably use it myself, if it was possible. However, when deciding on such training, you must have a certain mindset, certain assumptions that you will be bombarded with knowledge, if the course is actually as intense as promised in the advertisements and worth its considerable price, you will be overwhelmed by a mass of material that will not be able to effectively convert .

You will end the training with confidence, because you have covered a lot of issues during the course, but in fact none of them were remembered well enough.

The first interview is enough to get a verbal splash of cold water that will either sober up or nail down. May he sober up.

As we are already recruiting. You probably know from stories or anecdotes that sometimes stupid questions are asked during job interviews. I thought it was just a joke, that it couldn't be true, because what kind of company asks a programmer what kind of animal he feels or what he would take to a desert island. And not so long ago, when I changed my job, a very nice recruiter asked me what kind of fruit I am. Get it? What the fucking fruit I am. How important in this process was it that I replied "with a banana"? How important was it that this was the first fruit that came to my mind? These kinds of questions are of no use, and neither are theoretical questions of technology. Okay, they're important because we're able to get to know a candidate's body of knowledge, but that body of knowledge might as well have been learned, and mostly misunderstood. It doesn't really matter if you know the design patterns from theory. It is important if you know the problems that can be solved by applying them. Hence, I am a supporter of questions related to experience, challenges, successes, failures and problems. Perhaps it is worth the effort to inquire about the cache, performance, and understanding legacy problems you encounter. Questions presenting a real design problem are fantastic, for example:

"You have a task that must be delivered on Wednesday at 12:00. It's Tuesday 15:00. What will you do? You prefer to deliver what you can on Wednesday, but knowing that it will be incomplete, or will you give information to the client / team, that there is no chance that it will be on Wednesday and that you will miss the deadline, but you will deliver all the requirements? "

A classic problem, is it better to be on time and fail, or is it better to be late and deliver everything.

These types of questions will quickly expose the Dunning-Kruger delinquent, as it will turn out that superficial knowledge is not enough to make up for inexperience.

Let's summarize

The Dunning-Kruger effect, that's okay. I experienced it, probably your friends experienced it. If this has not happened to you yet, sooner or later you will feel this feeling of world domination, while what you have is not even suitable for ruling over a glass of water. Humility is such a grandiose word, and it can change so much. It is humility that will give you the opportunity to deal with the effect as soon as possible. Humility doesn't mean feeling like shit here, but it does mean knowing there's always something I may not know and it's easy to get hit for it. There can always be someone to put you out of the way and show you your place in the row.

Let Master Qui-Gon Jin remind you of all this:

There’s always a bigger fish

Dunning-Kruger

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