Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Knowledge Building & Career Development

McConnell's Code Complete hits hard the importance of continued reading in moving one's career development along. I've been working through books on his reading list even before I found it. This morning I visited Construx's Professional Ladder to see if anything had been added to his list. I see they've rearranged the entire ladder, turning it into a commercial product via mentoring. The old version's still around and has some very interesting stuff in their pyramid about how few software developers make the effort to keep reading to improve their knowledge. This surprises me, although I guess it shouldn't. My career's been somewhat scattered around due to my status as a camp follower (military spouse, not the last part of the first definition!) and I've always read various books and magazines to keep improving my knowledge. A couple years ago I worked with a group of developers who had plenty of reference books on their shelves, but nothing for improving their skills and certainly nothing for keeping current with industry trends and standards. Believe me, it showed in the product. Something else that struck me was one blurb in Construx's description of a mid-level developer: "they have an explicit professional development plan." I think this is pretty critical for anyone in any line of work. You need to sit down regularly and focus on a few goals, both short- and long-term. That's not always easy, but it's extremely beneficial, especially if you're having to move yourself through a difficult period in your career.

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