Develop your OWN Skills

I was having a chat the other night with a 4th-year university student who is about to finish their business degree BUT had started to take an interest in Computer Science and Development.

He was asking me whether he should go back to school for another 3 or 4 years to learn how to do that and then go down that career path.

My answer was simple: No — stop wasting your time.

Software Development is one of those incredible fields that has flourished since the introduction of the Internet and has given way to so many careers simply through the ability of people to tinker.

To stay up late at night and figure out how a page works.

To download a tutorial on a website and see if you can get it to work (bugs and all).

To build your own website and host it somewhere for free.

Not many other careers give you such an enormous sandbox to play in.

Here’s why I said No to him spending another 4 years in school.

You are not 100% sure

That’s okay, go onto Udemy, SkillShare, Microsoft Learning, Amazon, Google, anywhere and spend between $100 — $200 on courses. Don’t worry about the certification exams, focus on the courses and the content, is this something you want to be doing? Find out, $200 is a minimal investment that can get you maximum exposure to what languages and platforms interest you.

Hint: They are all being used, somewhere, by some company with a loyal set of customers. Finding niches is hard, but will serve you in the long run.

You need Experience

Unless you are going to work those 4 additional years while doing a Computer Science degree, this smells a little like you’re hiding from doing the “real-world” work and getting your hands dirty. You need to get your hands dirty, you need that feeling of doing work for work and not getting a grade out of it. You need to have that feeling of pride when you build something great and failure when it bombs out.

You need $$$

Not for cars, houses or luxuries — but you need to be earning $$$ to understand what will be expected of you to continue down this path. If you are doing all this learning in a vacuum — there is no risk, no reward — it’s an indifferent path that you’ve been on for the past 4 years and now it’s time to realize what it means to get that end of year bonus and not to get one.

I’m not against Computer Science programs and suggested that once he identifies what path he wants to go down he should look at getting some certifications to show his commitment to his craft and learning to get better, maybe after a few years go get those Computer Science foundation courses part-time if that is what he feels he needs to have.

But my point to him — own your development path — you did four years on someone else’s path, now it’s time to craft your own and see where it takes you. Through crafting his own plan, he’ll own, he’ll buy into it and he’ll probably get there faster than the typical 4 years if he loves it then if he signed up for that program of someone else’s design.