Throughout our daily work tasks, we often are asked to recall numerous details that may have escaped us. In today’s programming environment, it is imperative to know how to complete outdated tasks—some that have been developed but left untouched for years. The nature of our industry sometimes requires us to re-invent the wheel.
For example, you could find yourself needing to remember a now-obsolete data management process. You may be asked to write code to create data sets from raw text files. As raw data is standardized into raw data sets, this data management programming task becomes outdated. The time and expertise you invested to develop, validate and document your original code may be wasted unless you spend some time reviewing key facts and concepts about the process. Thus, any infrequently used programming task should be refreshed as part of a continuing education program.
Working professionals are challenged to maintain the same amount of knowledge they had when they left school, and are expected to continue developing their knowledge base in their professional environment. Learning about changes, advancements and upgrades through on-the-job training can help you maintain a competitive edge. IT training requires you to assess your training objectives and your commitment to achieve bottom-line results and lasting success. A good rule of thumb is to review reference materials or enroll in classes at least every six months. Learning is an ongoing responsibility, and establishing these objectives and making the commitment to practice them will prepare you for the next career advancement.
Look for certification exams, reference books or classroom training in your field to help improve your job performance. One benefit of training is that it empowers you to be prepared for almost any programming task. Perhaps the essential syntax and examples to create data sets from raw text files were contained in a book. You could simply reference the book the next time such a data management process was required. In addition, since there is more than one way to complete a task in the programming world, extra value is gained if the book compares similar programming approaches.
Not only will you benefit from certification, but your employer will benefit as well. Defining employee training paths, being able to objectively measure an employee’s knowledge and realizing higher levels of service and productivity compared to their non-certified counterparts are just some of the documented benefits of certification.
By finding good training and reference resources, you can take your software comprehension and programming language understanding to the next level. Books and other similar resources review and summarize important information, and compare the similarities and differences in syntax and programming approaches. Technically challenging questions help reinforce key concepts and facts. Not only will you become more organized and productive, you also will have more control of your performance by advancing your knowledge.
Yet another benefit of continued learning is that you will be better able to diagnose common programming tasks in data access, data management and data analysis. Experienced professionals will tell you that fixing program bugs takes more than half of the time needed for program development. This skill becomes essential when debugging programs written by others. By learning how to read and understand programs, you will in turn write better programs. Proficiency in diagnosing common programming tasks will reduce your frustration and increase your confidence level. When you can comfortably understand the logic in another programmer’s code, you have mastered your field.
Take control of your job performance with training that focuses on your job’s responsibilities. Search for tools, training and reference books to advance your software skills and understanding. Be proactive in your commitment to learning by enrolling in free e-newsletters. On a scheduled basis, you will receive useful information and tips from industry leaders, trainers and experts who could potentially save you hours of work. It is always helpful to find a solution that works.
Take charge of your career. Get certified, get ahead and always be prepared. The alternative path leads to a dead-end career.
Sunil Gupta is the trainer and principal programmer at Gupta Programming. He also is the co-author of the book, “Sharpening Your SAS Skills,” and helps programmers better understand and analyze the SAS programming language. E-mail Sunil at firstname.lastname@example.org.