New Job or Learning by Doing

I recently got a job as a software developer/computer programmer.

This is weird for several reasons. One of which is that when I was in high school, one of my goals prior to being thirty was to become a computer programmer to pay for seminary. I just did it in reverse. The programming I’m doing is pretty top level, but it’s all new to me and in many ways is more frustrating than some of the “harder” stuff I learned in college.

Anyway, I basically create UI tests for laboratory software. In the very brief time I’ve done this job I’ve learned:

  1. A handy version of git
  2. Way more C# than I would have covered in any college course (I was hired only knowing C++, Sci-Lab, and Mat-Lab).
  3. Selenium
  4. Way more HTML than I ever cared to know.
  5. And I’ve learned to use the laboratory management software for which I’m creating tests.

There is a great deal more to learn. But this reminds of a time when I was younger and I went down a water slide and my aunt realized I was struggling to swim because I panicked. It was really weird, I still remember wondering, “Why am I not swimming like I normally do.” She said, ‘Do or die, Geoffrey!” So I paddled to the side of the pool and she or my grandma yanked me out.

This job is like that. It isn’t like being in a college class. That can be motivating because I’ve paid for it. But it has the limitation of being easy to make second place to my other job (teaching). Getting paid for this requires me to learn a great deal at a fairly quick pace or I have nothing to produce and thus no money to make.

Anyway, for folks who wish to learn new things I recommend reading up on it for a while and then jumping into it. Nothing helps you learn like sitting and staring at something until it hurts with no answers in sight. You’re forced to be creative, ask good questions, and fail. Such events force us to learn.

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