Are You Leaving Money On The Table?

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I know most developers like you love to learn new things. They thrive on conquering new challenges and learning new techniques. Many people learn new languages just for the challenge. After all, why would anyone ever write a Brainfuck interpreter in the first place?

Many of us receive our training through our employers. We expect and accept that our employers will offer us continuing growth opportunities to boost our skills. But this creates a problem for us as our careers go on. How can you effectively train yourself for the skills you’ll need in your next job?

The problem with employer-supplied training

Many developers focus on their employer’s training opportunities, from continuing education payments to conferences and books. This is a natural fit: after all, if our employers want us to do new things they should offer us the ability to learn those new things.

The problem is, the training our employers offer us is slanted to what the employer needs, not what you need.

Case in point: you probably won’t have a chance to attend a Python conference on the company dime if you’re a PHP developer. It just wouldn’t make sense for your job.

But if you want to advance your career and have the opportunity to do Python development, you’ll need those skills that a Python conference can offer. How can you get those skills?

Training yourself on the cheap

Most of the training opportunities I’ve had have not been tremendously expensive conferences. In fact, some of the best training opportunities I’ve had have been absolutely free.

Yet the training itself was tremendously worthwhile. For example, when I learned object oriented PHP I was able to command a $12,000 bump in salary at my next job. That’s not chump change!

If you’re looking for ways to boost your PHP skills, here’s a list of free, low cost and medium cost options you can employ:

Free

User groups. Online videos (e.g.Programming with Anthony). Blogs. Planet PHP.

Low Cost

Books like Mastering Object Oriented PHP, The Grumpy Programmer’s PHPUnit Cookbook, PHP Master: Write Cutting Edge Code, Design Patterns, Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture.

Medium Cost

Seminiars and classes like The Object Oriented PHP Masterclass, The PHP Testing Bootcamp.

It’s your career. Invest in it!

At the end of the day, you’re the person who benefits most from the investments you make in your career. No matter how difficult or expensive such investments might seem, the payoff is huge.

Brandon Savage is the author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP and Practical Design Patterns in PHP

Posted on 3/28/2013 at 7:00 am
Categories: Learning, PHP

Aaron Saray (@aaronsaray) wrote at 3/30/2013 12:12 am:

I think this article is a giant generalization. In fact, it almost sounds like a little bit of bitter bias coming through, no? :) Maybe not, but I wouldn’t blame you, we’re all human.

My experience is a great employer will allow you to go to any conference, training opportunity, etc, – as long as its somewhat related. So, we do PHP, but you want to go to Python. Well, what is one problem our company has that you can solve with Python? If you can solve it, go to the training! What about just ‘good employers’ instead? Well, read on.

Speaking as a manager of a group of programmers, I would say that the biggest issue I’ve seen is that programmers won’t ask for a conference to better themselves in different technologies. They stay safe. Why not try it? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Sometimes you’ll hear no. Other times, you’ll hear ‘why.’ And with why, what a great chance you have to explain the needs, show the value to the company, and actually solidify your goals as well. Remember, when you want to do something, chances are it is a positive thing for YOU. The more “you”s you can make, the better chance you’ll have at success.

I think the point of this blog post is great – but lets not forget to encourage our fellow programmers to ask – and show value – for their own career growth.

Martin Hlaváč (@m_hlavac) wrote at 4/7/2013 2:36 am:

Link at the end of the post “Programming with Anthony” is broken.

Aaron Saray: You are right that developers are afraid to ask. The biggest problem with PHP programmers is that they often forget to learn new stuff… i’ve met so many PHP programmers who stayed on PHP 5.1 and are still using mysql_query function without any need to actually escape anything that i doesn’t count them anymore.

I started attending conferences last year and with it i’ve also started reading all blogs i could found. Reading blogs is my main way how to stay informed about new technologies and services. Conferences are great for more specific stuff where someone needs to ask questions.

Then there are books i would recommend reading Clean Code from Robert C. Martn and also Clean Coder from same author as it helps developers to realize what professionality means.

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