Originally posted: June 14, 2019
Over the past few months, I have been working towards transitioning to a full-time web development role. The job search has been very tiring but I am still determined to land that perfect first full-time position. (Spoiler alert: I did it!) One of the things that many people have suggested and something that I think is useful for all developers, is learning in public.
Well what does that mean exactly? To me it means just sharing what you are learning, sharing your frustrations, and finding a community or others who are in a similar boat. There are lots of great online communities like 100 Days of Code, Code Newbies, and Wizards in Tech. All full of amazing people who you can learn from and struggle together with until you master some small parts of this huge field known as development.
My own public learning has gone through a few different phases. I initially shared just small parts of what I was doing on Twitter and then went on to tweeting every day for the 100 days of code challenge. Eventually, I realized while this may work for some people it was not suited for me. I did not want to tweet every single day, but I still wanted to learn in public. I decided to stop tweeting on a daily basis and instead shared some insights on the milestones I reached. Some recent ones include: figuring out how to do some cool conditional rendering in react with enum patterns, actually practicing SQL queries and giving a couple of technical talks.
That leads to the next part, teaching. During my time at a full stack coding bootcamp, one of our mentors and the Instructor both told me that “teaching is the best form of learning”. I looked back on my career and remembered my time as a trainer in Customer Support. I remembered getting better at my job as I kept mentoring others and helping them develop as customer care agents. I decided to apply this to my journey into web development.
I began by teaching an introduction to React at a Wizards in Tech Webinar and then delivering a talk on GraphQL at a VueJS meet up. While React was my comfort zone,I quickly learned that I was teaching too much all at once. Learning vast amounts of things is never helpful, why would teaching large amounts of things in a short time be any more helpful? I started refining what I was teaching and it hit me again; I was getting better at using React. Now I find myself signing up to lead more talks and workshops. I have one coming up that I will be announcing soon and two others in the works.
This approach of course does not work for everyone. I did not think it would work for me because I am the typical introvert. I do not like being around large groups of people, doing things like socializing, and small talk is usually out of the question. With this in mind, I decided to focus on the parts I was passionate about. I love to code and I love the technology I’m using. Keeping that in mind, I focused on that and it seemed to be enough to get over at least some of my fears.
Maybe my approach to learning will be helpful for you, maybe it won’t. There are a number of ways of learning in public without directly interacting with people if that is something you are not comfortable doing right now. You can do what I’m doing now and write a blog post. Record a tutorial without showing yourself and post it online. Even if no one reads your post or watches your video right away, I think the act of creating content about things you learn and putting it out into the world is a win in itself. It helps you solidify your knowledge and someday might help someone else as well.