As a student, you probably take a personal assessment one or more times a week. For example, as you prepare for a quiz, you probably ask yourself: "What do I need to study? What topics do I need to brush up on? ". Without stating it explicitly, you are evaluating your knowledge and skills, and identifying areas where they may be lacking. This topic is discussing the same thing, but in a more formal and detailed manner.
Student vs. Professional
As students, we tend to focus on the short-term objectives in front of us: reading the next chapter, completing this week's assignments, preparing for next quiz, etc. That is as it should be. Concentrating on those short-term objectives moves us closer to meeting the longer terms goals: successfully completing the current course, and finishing the degree.
As a professional, the same types of short-term objectives are always in front-of us: attending meetings, making reports, completing tasks, etc. The long-term goals are not always as clear. Is it a new position within two years? Obtaining another certificate this year? Moving from operations to management? In this case, the long-term goals are usually completely up to us to formulate and require self-motivation to keeping moving towards them.
In many fields, such as IT and software development, it is also important to realize that we must continually focus on interim objective. In fields that are constantly changing, it is important to be constant learners and to continually hone existing skills, while acquiring new ones when possible.
Your Bat Belt
One way to think of this is that your work persona is like a superhero, like Batman, and your set of knowledge and skills are your bat belt. What gadgets do you have to meet the next challenge?
Not all developers are required to have database skills. However, the ability to handle data in common formats (JSON, XML) is a very common requirement. Understanding how to work with API's is increasingly a common requirement. Knowing how to work with databases, and understanding the more complex aspects of designing and coding databases is certainly a skill that sets a developer apart.
So, as a student (or professional) it is helpful to continually take stock of your current skills and compare that with the position and industry you work in or want to work in. Most companies want to know two things about your knowledge and skills:
- How long have you used each skill?
- How do you rate yourself in terms of competency?
- When was the last time you used each skill?
Many employers also like to see examples of your skills, and may test you on basic knowledge related to that skill.
Planning Your Training and Education
IT training does not end with the end of school or a degree. In fact, it is the beginning of more training and education - a process that never ends in the IT industry.
Even as a student, it helps to begin preparing.
- What types of development do you like?
- What areas of development are you interested in or good at (planning, design, front-end coding, database development, IOT, etc.) ?
- What type off skills are common in the type of position you would like to obtain?
- What languages are common or recommended?
- What skills are you weaker in that can be improved?
This is a continual process. IT is contantly changing, and there is a need for continous education and training.