3 “helpful” advice you should stop giving budding techies

Peers teach peers new tech skills at adaconf0.

Do you want to help your peers become better at IT? Great! People like yourself are an important asset to the tech world.

However, being a subject expert doesn’t make you a teaching expert. Want to help your fellow techie develop their skills? Here are some common pitfalls to avoid.

“You’re learning this? Why? You should learn this instead!”

The more senior person will have a better understanding of the big picture, and may get eager to talk about all the possible things there are to learn. What they don’t realize that they’re saying is: don’t learn in depth what you already started, but hop from subject to subject as fast as you can.

If the path or the course you’re on right now interests you and feels worthwhile, keep to it. When it doesn’t feel as rewarding, or you need to for some other reason, change subject. There are endless amounts of new, nice-to-have knowledge out there. Learn about the things that interest you!

“It’s easy! You will get it in no time”

This is commonly meant as a confidence boost, but for an adult learner it might have the opposite effect.

As a more senior developer, you have probably forgotten the struggles you were faced with earlier in your career. If you learned something 20 years ago it’s likely that you have forgotten how you learned it.

Very many tech products struggle with bad UX, confusing interfaces and engineer centric design.
Often the tool you’re using every day now was hard for you to learn, but now that you are an expert it’s not hard for you anymore.
The tool you just labeled as “easy” may have a terrible Usability Score. The tutorials and documentation may be outdated and sloppy, leaving your peer thinking that the reason they don’t grasp it is themselves.

“To become truly good at programming, you need to have started as a child”

On a personal note, this myth was very destructive for me. It delayed my entrance into the field by 9 years. I don’t want to enter a field where I will feel stupid and inadequate every day because I chose music and books over mathematics and commodores as a child.

At Lund University, they kick-off the basic programming course with some simple statistics. Do you know what demographic that tends to get the highest grades in this course? Women without prior programming knowledge.

In my own subjective view, key skills of an IT professional of the future include:

  • Willingness for continuous learning
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Will to collaborate
  • Empathy with end users
  • Prestigelessness
  • Creativity

Yes, hands-on skills in different programming languages and frameworks are very important. Go out and chase those technical skills! But also remember that the adult learner probably already has some different experiences that will enrich the team.