From soloist to team player
If you’ve read my previous post, Newbie’s view on Presta, perhaps you noticed that I mentioned the learning process as one of my fields of interests. Now I would like to elaborate on that topic, comparing experiences from two years that I’ve spent learning solo, using resources from the internet, and now when I have the chance to work and learn in a team.
The ideals of the modern era that peaked with the idea of an encyclopedia as the sum of human knowledge rapidly turned to dust with the rise of the Internet. The key difference can be found in the structure of presented knowledge – while the encyclopedias have a clear, alphabetic organization of terms – the Internet appears quite chaotic.
Bearing that in mind, imagine programming newbie who’s beginning his journey and searching the Internet in the quest for guidance: Where to start? What’s the best programming language for beginners? What path should you choose (Web development (frontend or backend), Q&A, Video games, Data science, Mobile applications…)? After some consideration, you finally chose programming language (for me it was Python) based on research (or at least something that resembles of research) – and you are just entering hyperlink labyrinth. You are constantly making choices, clicking on hyperlinks, choosing paths in the labyrinth, hoping that you will find your way out. But you are getting tired, all those information and advice are making you dizzy and the Minotaur of despair is waiting in some dark corner. He won’t eat or decapitate you, he’ll only ask a few simple questions: Do you feel overwhelmed? Are you sure you are up for this? Don’t you see how much you need to go?
If you get past the Minotaur it gets easier. It really does. After some time you realize that surroundings on your journey have changed. It’s not a labyrinth anymore, now it’s just a hill ahead of you. And no matter how hard the climbing is, you know that you are headed towards something and that you aren’t just spinning in circles, without a clue if you are going in the right direction. And that change of perspective and feeling of progress makes all the difference.
And finally, we arrive at the present time. I’ve been working in Presta for a month and a half now (my first job as a developer) and I think I can say a few words about the learning process when you are a part of the team. First of all – you don’t have to think about whether your sources of learning are trustworthy anymore. You are working with thеse people and you see them accomplish amazing things every day. You see their experience in action. And when they give you some advice or recommend some resources for further reading/watching, you know that they would be useful.
As I’ve already mentioned, diversity in a team is a great thing. In Presta, in our frontend department, benefits of different specialties are really quite obvious. Of course, most of the technologies and techniques are being used on a daily basis by everyone but there are nuances and some advanced tricks that everyone is specialized for. For example, one member is exquisite at WP and Git, the other one is great at Vue, React and CSS in general and the third one makes complicated structures and solves technical difficulties like a breeze. What’s most important – questions, tips, and advice are being exchanged quite often, so I am under the impression that I could learn a lot by just sitting in the room with my eyes closed.
Of course, I don’t do that (it probably would seem a little bit weird). Instead, I am trying to find a balance between asking for help when I get stuck and learning by “try and fail” method, which is always the most effective one.
The main thing I’ve learned besides programming is how much knowledge it takes to make a great website. I said “besides programming” because I’m not talking about technical skills – they are implied, but trying to find out what’s the story that should be told on that website – our client’s story. In order to do that you should get to know your clients well and research their field of work. We walk a mile in their shoes and the result is a website that’s not just mere representation or bunch of information but a true image of their identity.
That’s about it. My experiences with learning in the IT industry – from reexamining and contemplating on the whole process of learning, then overcoming beginners obstacles in finding the right development path for myself, to the present moment where I am learning new things every day, including learning new ways to learn. And I hope it’s only a new beginning.