Ok. Ok. What's next?
Ok. Ok. What's next?
There are plenty of blog posts and articles out there about why we should never stop learning. Most of them include variations on a quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein that equates ceasing to learn with dying. These posts take the form of listicles and claim that we should learn because it keeps us healthy and it’s what successful people do.
While this may be true, there’s perhaps a less trite way of looking at learning.
As you may have read in some of our previous posts, making a positive impact through a culture of learning, growth and innovation is central to our company ethos. Whether we’re working in the developer’s office or the admin team, this culture is something that all of us can take something from.
— Web Applications UK (@WebAppUK) July 6, 2017
For some, the prospect of constantly learning and developing might be daunting. It’s tempting to stay inside our comfort zones and feel like we know what we’re doing. But something our CEO, Craig Dean, said during my interview really stuck with me: “You have to believe that you can be somebody new every day.” For anyone who has ever had a rubbish day or made a mistake at work, this idea is pretty appealing. And one of the best ways that we can do this is by learning something new.
The Learning Curve
On a basic level, learning can be as simple as just listening to those around us. I joined the company last month and I’m based in the marketing department. Seated either side of me are the admin team and the project managers. Although I don’t always understand the nuts and bolts of what they’re talking about, just by keeping half an ear on the conversation, I’m beginning to pick up the language of the company.
Our placement students have had a brilliant second day learning about source control theory, case tracking & our commitment to our customers pic.twitter.com/LM51qjMkOx
— Web Applications UK (@WebAppUK) July 4, 2017
Accepting what we don’t know is also a great place to start. As a new member of the team and someone with limited tech knowledge, this acceptance hasn’t been hard: I’m fully aware there’s a lot I don’t yet know. For people that have been in their careers for a long time, this probably seems less relevant. Yet few of us really know everything that goes on in the workplace, and if the people around us are constantly learning, then there will always be something new to pick up.
Learning, Growth and Innovation
All of our software engineers have half a day a week to spend on their personal development. They have the chance to attend training sessions run by staff at all levels, and of course the opportunity to run their own. This formalised sharing of knowledge feeds into the office culture more generally, with questions continuously posed and answered by all on our instant messaging platform.
Beyond scheduled training sessions, Webbies can spend this time watching tutorials, learning new programming languages, or working towards certifications. There are also exciting personal projects in development. Some of our current Industrial Placement students are creating their own mobile apps and games, and others are building websites and systems.
Learn What You Love
It’s easy to see why it’s worth facilitating work-related learning and development. But learning doesn’t always have to be about achieving a goal directly linked to our day-to-day roles. Our PR Assistant, Rebecca, learnt to code a Raspberry Pi and now helps to run code clubs delivered to local school children. While coding may have been a skill outside of her formal job role, we are constantly reminded here that what we do is less important than why we do it. Nobody’s role is so fixed that they can’t seek learning opportunities outside of it.
One of our Industrial Placement students, Chris, also embodies this approach to learning. Although he’s a Software Engineer by day, a chance reading of a book about a medieval knight three years ago sparked in Chris a passion for history. Since then, he hasn’t stopped, and can now name every British monarch since 1066. For Chris, this pursuit isn’t just aimed at acquiring facts about the past, but is about equipping himself to better face the future. Historical knowledge may not help him to code, but it has become a passion that he now shares with others on his blog.
Learning, then, begets the other two elements of our ethos: growth and innovation. Through learning, we not only grow our knowledge base, but we also grow as people. By developing a sense of mastery over something new, we recognise that we’re not the same people we were just a few weeks before; we have innovated ourselves.