- Experts are called when no one else can fix or build something, so they command higher pay.
- Experts stay booked if they also do quality work and know how to keep clients happy, so long as their niche can support a full schedule. Even as relatively rare as nuclear power plants are, the best nuclear machinist engineers are called all over the world for their trade.
- Jacks of all trades can do lots of work, but as soon as something gets complex, they either tap out or disappoint their clients. I get those projects more than should ever happen to good people.
One of the key ways to jump to the next level is to keep learning. Hone your skills in an area until you are confident and efficient. What I’ve done for years is learning at the school of hard knocks by solving client problems. Hunting for snippets or StackExchange solutions has sufficed for me so far, but recently, I’ve needed to fill in the gaps that method created.
a quick story
I started school in Ohio in one of the state’s highest-ranking K-12 schools. My Algebra teacher was a college professor at the community college at night and her husband was a tenured professor of math at BGSU half an hour away. He actually taught our class how to do quadratic equations without showing any work one day when he substituted for her. I was doing really well in Algebra.
We moved to Florida after the first semester of my 10th grade. I’d started Algebra in the regular track because schools in rural Ohio were college-prep, so there was no such thing as an honors program, AP, or anything over a 4.0 GPA. I was reading books and falling asleep in Algebra in Florida, so my parents got me into several honors classes. The problem? I’d missed 6 weeks of their curriculum, which was actually trigonometry.
I struggled for the rest of my math life. I failed College Algebra I. I re-took it the next semester and attended every class in the front 5 rows, did EVERY homework problem in the book, all of the extra credit, and finished with a 109%. I applied the same dedication to Calculus I the next semester and had to drop out before the first exam. That said, I did get a very high A in both Stats I & II, so my take-away is that I am missing fundamental math blocks.
the same applies to work
Since I’ve learned how to code on my own, I’m also missing large blocks in programming. I’m comfortable calling myself a developer but that’s because I’m a coder but I’m clearly not a programmer. Some days I spend an hour or two… or two days… trying to solve a problem in my code or someone’s code I inherited. Arrays, if/else/elseif/for/foreach, and loops give me fits because I know what works, but I didn’t know why.
Queue Treehouse. I got a year subscription on a really good deal from AppSumo a few years ago. In June of 2014, Zac Gordon put out a request for any Genesis developers who were interested in guest teaching and we had met and hit it off at WordCamp Orlando a year or two prior, so he had an easy candidate.
As a result of teaching, I learned a lot, because there’s no better learning tool than needing to teach something. I also started taking a lot of courses. In the last year, I’ve taken Sass, PHP, Git, Grunt, Console Basics, and also taught Modern WordPress Workflow and an intermediate Genesis Theme Development course.
learning pays off
One of the most exciting courses I’ve seen in a while is Hello Tonya’s Apprentice course at WordPress Developer’s Club. https://wpdevelopersclub.com/ I just heard about it on Sunday and have already dived in. I joined the Slack team and have already helped and been helped. It boasts some pretty big names in WordPress development and everyone is pretty big on getting developers a certification underway and ensuring a common knowledge base level. Object-Oriented Programming? I don’t know it yet, but I sure want to.
If you do, then you have to join her 10-person limit course with plenty of one-on-one time and real-world projects. The Apprentice program is on my list as soon as we replace some equipment and I ensure I have a beginner’s knowlege of some more languages and concepts.
So what are you waiting for? What are you learning? How has your programming or coding career evolved over your career? Let’s chat.