Learning On the Job

Today a friend who is about to start his first job as a Junior Developer asked me a great question:

“Do you still find the time to study outside of work or has on the job learning become way more valuable?”

Here’s what I told him:

I definitely learn a lot of things at work that I would not learn outside of work, but I also spend quite a bit of time filling in the gaps outside of work.

For example, sitting with a developer who is awesome with Git shows me some new Git features I never would have learned on my own, but it also tells me, “Okay, apparently there’s still a lot I need to learn in that area”, so Iend up studying it at home.

Basically, I’m exposed to a lot more things and get a better idea of what I need to learn, but then I have to put in outside time to learn them. (Which is a little hard because my outside time is so limited).
Overall, I think the best learning experiences are a mix of being taught and teaching oneself.
When I’m paired with someone who likes to teach, I think I learn as much or more than I do alone. When I’m paired with someone who doesn’t stop to explain, I end up wishing I could spend the time teaching myself.
In an ideal world, I’d have plenty of time for both types of learning. For now, I’m soaking up everything I can from my peers, and trying to squeeze self-teaching into the tiny slivers of time left after work and family take their share.
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