SilverStripe developer Denise Rivera reflects on Yitzchok Willroth's talk from the New Zealand PHP Conference 2015.
“Talmudic Maxims to maximize your growth as a developer” (by Yitzchok Willroth) was the first talk on the second day of the New Zealand PHP conference 2015. To kick things off, we didn’t hear about best coding practices, or the new hip technologies. We heard about personal growth, something I feel we always leave on our backlog but never get around to actually doing something about it (or is it just me?): how to grow as a developer.
If you are just spending days in the office, just doing what you're told and not improving your skills, you are doing it wrong. It's easy to get stuck, thinking that you have no time outside work hours to catch up with the new technologies. But if you are a developer at heart, then you always want to improve, learn something new, and keep getting better at it.
Yitzchok Willroth gave us a few tips in his talk about what you should be doing as a developer to keep improving. One of the key things he mentioned is that you basically learn more when you share more. So go to Facebook and share a snippet of code? Go to Twitter and talk about that new interesting module you are starting to code? No. Stop. Don't do that! Talk to coworkers/other programmers. Do pair programming, mentoring, code reviews and be part of the community! If you are collaborating, you are learning - even if you are the one doing the teaching.
Consistency is also important, so try to keep a rhythm! Do a little bit here and there every day. And don't expect to code as well as you do in your office with your headphones on if you are doing it on your comfy sofa while watching The Simpsons rerun for the tenth time. Consistency is important. So create your own personal programming space in your house and always focus on coding there.
One of the best things he mentioned was Rubber Ducking - because I like rubber ducks; but also because I like talking to myself. And you can do this even when you don't have a peer programmer nearby. So basically, talk to yourself while you are coding. Having a rubber duck (even if it is of yourself) will help you think over and explain things better.
He also taught us the value of small beginnings, so don't feel overwhelmed and try to make your first contribution in github the best piece of code ever. Start small if you want - change docs, comment on an issue, and keep going from there. Remember, consistency is the key.
It's always good to be eager to improve, and it shouldn't be a painful thing to do. True, sometimes it might be hard to balance, but if you integrate his teachings a little bit every day, it should be a bit easier.
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