Getting Paid to Learn

Picking up experience on the job can be great (for example learning about SEO, application monitoring or observability) but all things being equal, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the many other ways we learn. Without the support to continuously learn new things we get stuck in jobs and become less valuable to the market and our employers over time. That’s why I’m a big fan of the concept of Getting Paid to Learn.

Getting Paid to Learn

Just like it sounds, I’m talking about companies that help and support their employees learn and develop new skills over time by giving them time and budget to learn new things.

Getting the Time

I joined BloomNation over a year ago and began learning how to write code in a brand new language: JavaScript. My boss knew this meant giving me time to learn and time to produce something at a far slower rate than I might normally be able to. (Note: this is time during the regular work day) The upside of this meant alignment with my front-end developers and now I have some skill that I can use again and again in other areas like in helping to do front-end Code Reviews.

Getting the Budget

Years ago when I first started learning how to write UI automation I requested my then company buy me an online book. As I used my new skill to tackle newer and larger problems I outgrew the advice a book could give me and asked for the budget to hire a known consultant to help guide me in more advanced practices. We set a budget and hired that consultant part time.

While you don’t necessarily have to hire a consultant, having a defined (or loosely defined) annual budget per person for gaining education through online courses, books (FYI anyone can gift you a Kindle eBook fairly easily), conferences, is a huge signal that the company values you, is invested in your growth and its also a pretty nice recruitment tool.

Peace of Mind

My own experience tells me companies are starting to get the hint about having an active policy toward continuous learning. Some have enterprise training accounts with Udemy, Udacity, Safari Online or other programs. Others have a defined budget per year. This has become one of my goto questions when I evaluate a company to join: do they offer both budget and time to learn new things?

While I may not always have the time to take advantage, when I do want to learn something new, upskill or generally increase my depth of knowledge I want the safety and confidence of knowing the company is willing to pay me to learn.

Late-August updates

August has been crazy busy with a mixture of travel, AST elections, my day job and the annual CAST conference. Some recent updates:

Learning

  • Joined my first TestAutomationU course on WebDriverIO. I already use WebDriverIO v4 but figured since it was using v5 it might be fun to see what is new and how someone else approaches designing their framework. So far I’ve picked up a few different libraries and approaches to config files. At some point I’ll go back through the class. code up the examples and put them in my repo on GitHub. Always a good idea to show your work / build a portfolio!
  • Finished reading Bad Blood. Oh such a fascinating, fun and yet frustrating book on the blood testing startup Theranos, it’s founder Elizabeth Holmes and how she was able to deceive so many people. Essentially the company used the threat of lawsuits, internal security and departmentalizations of employees to keep most people from knowing the truth or learning too much. From an a casual observer I’m fascinated how, despite terrible working conditions and low levels of trust within the organization they attracted top talent with the promise of helping revolutionize the healthcare industry. I mean that’s how powerful a message and a founder can be. There’s also a lot to be said for how smart and powerful companies are able hide information and the true power of journalism to fight against it.

The Association for Software Testing

  • The AST had our board of director elections (run by myself and Simon Peter Schrijver).
    • We welcomed two return members: Eric Proegler and Ilari Henrik Aegerter and three new board members: Lena Pejgan, Louise Perold, and James Thomas!
  • Turns out running a conference is time consuming, who would have guessed?Lol
    • I didn’t spend much time in conference sessions at CAST due to work, networking with a few people, and generally trying to keep the conference going smoothly. The funny thing is I still learned a lot!
    • I’ve written a few summaries of sessions that I hope to post recaps for but just need to find the time.
    • Now that the conference is over, a lot of work falls to my role as the Treasurer to wrap things up with speakers, etc. Its fine work but it takes time.

ETC

  • In addition to traveling with the family to Florida for CAST we also hit up Disney World a few times during our week long stay. Never been and despite it being overcast a number of days it was still incredibly hot. Thank goodness for the great weather in SoCal.
  • The first round of updates for my slides and presentation at STARWEST are done. Yay! Now to continue iterating!

There’s so much more to write about regarding CAST, my time on the board of directors, etc. so look out for those up comings posts!

Help me choose my CAST 2019 schedule

I’ll be attending CAST in Cocoa Beach, FL next week and I can’t quite decide what sessions and workshops I want to attend on during the conference days (Wednesday and Thursday). I will definitely live tweet but I’d also like to do some live blogging / recaps / summaries of the sessions.

My ask is if you help me choose my CAST schedule, in return I’ll share what I learn in the form of a live blog / recap of the session. That way we both get something out of it. Deal?

To help me choose:

  1. Check out the CAST schedule
  2. Leave a comment telling me which sessions and/workshops for the 2 days or tweet at me doing the same thing.
  3. I’ll tally up the results and post which sessions and workshops I’ll be attending
  4. Then I’ll blog!