Find value in “hobby apps”

Burnout is real so how do you balance your work schedule with the need for continuous learning? Technology changes continuously and employers are constantly seeking for someone who can keep up with the next iteration of tools. Unfortunately, you can’t always depend on finding an employer that will put the value on professional development that you should. There are some high-class employers out there that will take it seriously but you need to plan on doing this yourself. For this reason, consider adding “hobby apps” into your life away from work.

What is a hobby app? A hobby app can be any idea that comes to mind, outside of your work, with which you can practice learning new technologies. There doesn’t need to be a revenue opportunity, it doesn’t have to be the next big business tool, and it doesn’t have to be related to the software you develop at work. Additionally, and most importantly, it should not dominate your personal time. You still need your downtime! However, it represents a personal investment into improving your skillset. You can even repurpose the same idea for each language or tool you decide to explore.

  • Is there a programming language that you’ve been looking to learn?
  • Is there a new technology or service you’ve seen released that grabbed your interest?

These are only a couple of the opportunities where you could sit down once or twice a week in your personal time to implement your idea with new tools. With rapid change guaranteed in the field, spending a small amount of time now investing in your skillset is a wise investment into your future.

Listen, love, and lean in.

Until society proves through its actions and words that all lives really do matter there will be people – hurting people – crying out to anyone who will hear them that their lives matter too.

Listen, love, learn, lean in, and lift up those that are hurting.

Soft Skills: Communication

What does it mean to be effective at communication? There is more to communicating than sending a daily status update or explaining a process. To be an effective communicator means applying effort to verbal as well as non-verbal skills and they can be as important as a trade skill. You’ll find that employers and clients will make decisions about you based on how well you communicate – especially if you’re being compared to others in a competitive scenario like an interview. If you’re seeking ways to improve, then start by seriously considering how well you practice the following:

  • understanding body language
  • being able to clearly present ideas
  • understanding how to use visual aides
  • being able to receive constructive feedback
  • writing where body language is not required to understand
  • displaying empathy while attentively listening

Of all the life skills available to us, communication is perhaps the most empowering.

Bret Morrison, actor

Never Stop Learning

As a software developer, I’ve experienced quite a bit of change throughout my career. While some skills have always been relevant there are those that are in a constant state of change. Innovation brings improvement to processes, security, and performance at a pace that makes complacency a dangerous state of mind. For example, the mobile app development ecosystem has never stopped innovating – especially with smartphones. App development for the iPhone alone has continually changed since it was first introduced.

Consider Mentoring a Small Group

Mentoring is not always a one-on-one relationship. If you want to see mentorship spread, you need to empower others to become mentors and this needs to be provided in a manner where they aren’t simply thrown into the wild to make it work. For some, a more social experience, as a co-mentor, may provide a natural growth – an experience where they become confident leading discussions with someone other than yourself. This is where a small group may be of value.

One of the Many Reasons I Mentor

Have you ever found yourself explaining something to someone and then walk away from the experience with a greater understanding than you did before?

This is just one of the reasons I enjoy mentoring: I grow more as an individual, and as a professional, when I mentor others rather than lecture to them. I look forward to hearing other perspectives even if they differ from my own. In a discussion where neither of us readily have the answer, we both learn more through the experience by seeking it together.

In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.

Phil Collins

Reach Out

We can all feel a bit captive to our environments right now but don’t let it stop you from excelling at what you do. You’ve got this! If you don’t, reach out to other’s that can help. If you need to reach out, message me. Even if you just need someone to listen.

The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.

MARK CAINE
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