The Next Door

Well, here I sit, 5 years almost to the day of having starting working in a new career at a new company.  It’s been a wild ride, and in that time so much more has happened in my life even outside of the career shift.  Marriage, children, and a house purchase.  All the trappings of a great life vector.

So why do I feel, 5 years into this career, that I’m still behind the 8-ball?  I don’t think it’s from a lack of capability in my current role or position with my company.  Software Developer, Scrum Master, Tech Lead, all things I’m doing with varying degrees of skill joined with continued growth and learning.

So how about it?  Why does the 8-ball still seem ahead of me?  I’ve decided it has to do with vocabulary.  Not actual linguistics, but a vocabulary of knowledge that I lack that many in this line of work achieve through University, or year and years of various types of coding work on various projects.

I feel like I’m behind the 8-ball because when it comes to software engineering, I actually *am* behind the 8-ball.  I’ve cultivated a great deal of soft skills around problem solving, quick self-education when necessary, interdepartmental communication, interpersonal communication, time management, and even some software development and engineering concepts as well.  My problem is that I often fall short in knowledge that would lead me to being able to solve a problem more quickly, or have a greater understanding of a better path without having to do a whole lot of digging first.  I’ve been okay with making up for it by being able to figure shit out time and again, but I’ve been feeling a calling to educate myself again on the fundamentals.  To cultivate my software engineering vocabulary and toolbox further in advance.

Now that the whirlwind of family changes and learning on the job these past 5 years are behind me, and I find myself with some relative stability from which to grow again outside of work, professionally, I’ve decided to start tackling some University level courses.

I work remotely, and am in a fairly remote part of Ontario, at least when it comes to being easily able to actually show up at a University regularly, so I investigated several official sounding online options.  Open University, Athabasca University, a few others out there that can get you an official degree at the end of the journey.

I signed up for Athabasca, albeit in the wee hours of the morning, and went to sleep.  The next day I realized what I wanted wasn’t a piece of paper for validation.  I’ve got the career, I’ve got the fantastic workplace.  What I needed was the self-confidence in my belt of tools and books of knowledge to be able to speak on deeper levels when it comes to systems architecture, algorithms, and software engineering in general.

Enter, several University level courses available online for free, but for no accreditation.  So be it.  That’s what I need and want.  It would be lovely to get an official Computer Science degree, but that’s not what I’m looking for right now.  What I’m really looking for is a growth of fundamental knowledge and a larger toolbox from which to draw for problem solving.

Up first is Linear Algebra which I’m taking through edx.  I missed the boat on actually following along live with the class of 2018, but it’s set up for auditing and self-paced learning outside of the normal window.  I’m looking to document my progress through the course, and subsequent courses by trying to distill what I’m learning down a little bit.  Maybe some haiku would be good?  Force me to thoroughly process my learnings to be able to take it down so far for various concepts… who knows?

In any case, it’s time to pass out, my brain needs to digest the day, and my mind needs the sleep.