Learning Breaks — How we master our craft as a team
Here at Finder, one of our values is "Master Your Craft", which means be the best at what you do and never stop learning.
Learning Breaks, our weekly engineering team events, are one of the ways we share our knowledge and improve our technical skills.
So, what's special about Learning Breaks?
- What: It has an informal and relaxed format, which is reflected in the name "breaks" instead of "sessions" or "meetings".
- How long: It is short (30 minutes), so that it’s easier to allow time for them in our busy schedules.
- When: They happen on Fridays, the day when we don’t deploy to production, so there is less temptation to skip learning in favour of some super-important task (and when is one of them not super important, right?)
- How: They are interactive events – we prefer a "hands-on" experience instead of passive listening. As one of Finder’s core values is "Go Live", Learning Breaks often result in pull requests with refactored code or added unit tests based on what we learned.
Some advice based on our experience:
- Encourage people to take turns in presenting topics. We are lucky to have engineers with diverse backgrounds, which helps widen our knowledge boundaries with skills related to different coding languages, techniques and frameworks.
- Book a meeting room beforehand as a recurring event. Ensure remote team members don’t have difficulties connecting to the meeting.
- Draft a list of topics people are interested in and update it each time someone mentions "It would be good to learn about…". Vote for topics before each meeting.
- Create detailed instructions for each Learning Break in a shared online document so that it’s easier for everyone to follow it at their own pace.
- When there are no written instructions, record the meeting so that people can come back to it later.
- For each topic, document the actions that participants agree to take in future based on what they learned.
- Don’t concentrate only on technical skills – soft skills are also important. Teaching each other favourite approaches to time management or personal growth can be just as exciting as learning about new ReactJS features.
Aside from knowledge sharing, there are some extra benefits from Learning Breaks:
- They help team members (including remote ones) learn more about each other and the projects they are working on.
- They help us to make constant learning a habit.
Here are some ideas for stack-agnostic topics and formats:
- Functional Programming (go through examples in a preferred language, refactor code and examine benefits)
- Unit Testing (find places in existing applications with limited code coverage, let each participant write tests for a particular item, review each other's pull requests with tests)
- "Clean Code" from Uncle Bob (watching a video is a good alternative for an especially lazy Friday)
- Learn more about each other (have a friendly chat between engineers about each other and current projects – this is especially beneficial when employees from different countries are visiting)
Happy learning :)