In 2009 I wanted to augment my skillset by learning Java. I have been a self-taught programmer since the beginning of my career and I had the fortunate experience of working with a bunch of Georgia Tech grads who taught me the value of higher education and learning to do things “right”.
I decided to go back to school to get certified in Java. Once I arrived on campus, I soon learned that I couldn’t just “cherry pick” classes. There were prerequisites and programs that had to be followed. Before I knew it, I was involved in a two year journey to obtain an Associates degree in computer programming. Once achieved, I completed a Bachelors in Information Technology with a concentration in Web Development.
In the IT world, we all are life-long learners. If not, you’ll be swept away by the rising tide pretty quickly. I think there’s something within our community that makes us want to learn and try new things. It ceases to become work, and we strive to learn more.
Education has always been the area of greatest resistance for me. I’m not sure whether I had a bad taste in my mouth from my first experience with college when I was young, but going back to school later in life changed my entire outlook on a formal education, along with its benefits and merits.
Certifications are also easy to look down on for those that don’t have them. It’s easy to pass a test and not possess any working knowledge of a technology. But certification coupled with experience, can be a fearsome adversary when compared with other candidate for a job or a promotion.
My final thoughts on the subject of professional development is that one should always go after subjects that interest you. If you’re wanting to pick up a certification or class because you think it’ll bring you more money, that’s the wrong reason. If you don’t have a genuine interest in the subject matter, chances are you won’t do that well in the class and it won’t achieve the higher goal of educating yourself.