Mike Elissen
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My Continuous Improvement | #01 | Why you should invest in yourself?

My Continuous Improvement | #01 | Why you should invest in yourself?

Keep learning every single day...

Mike Elissen
·Jan 25, 2022·

4 min read

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If you are working in Tech, chances are that you have to learn new skills often. Whether it is learning how to use a new tool, user interface or API, or picking up new technical or functional skills, you have to learn continuously on the job.

At Akamai I have been fortunate enough to focus on my personal development and continuously improve myself. Setting aside time in my busy weekly schedule to learn new skills is important and it has helped me to apply those learnings in many situations such as customer conversations and workshops.

To me, being able to teach something signals that I have grasped the content well enough to make it my own.

In today's world of DevOps, there are countless of tools to focus on and learn more about. Cloud platforms, DevOps tooling, programming languages, Infrastructure as Code, the list goes on and on. That is not even counting things like methodologies, standards or industry terms. It can be daunting, but there is also a ton of help available in the form of video tutorials, labs and documentation.

How do I learn? First thing I do is make sure I have dedicated time to focus on learning. Fridays are perfect, it is common practice not to schedule meetings on this work day so it helps to set aside at least 2 hours to focus on.

Second is a personal preference but it is watching video content. To me, watching videos and listening to the audio help me nail down the concepts easier. I also speed up a ton of the video I watch, it is not uncommon for me to watch videos on 2x or 3x the speed with subtitles enabled. In today's virtual world, there are also tons of meetings, often I prefer not to attend them live and watch the recording back when I can at faster speeds. Efficiency is key here...

Third is of course putting new skills to the test by applying it. Especially technical skills are learned best by trying them out. Setting up a trial and trying to get something up and running is often what I go for. The basic 'Create - Read - Update - Delete' workflow is what I go for with my examples. How can I have something simple working and how can I manipulate it? I also typically go for DevOps tools such as API endpoints, command-line interfaces and not use User Interfaces anymore.

What do I use to learn? There are a ton of resources, both free and paid, that are helpful. I tend to jump around between platforms.

YouTube and Google are always a great start. There are typically tons of videos available about topics and often enough, a company themselves have a good selection of videos to watch to understand the basics if you want to learn a new tool.

I also use LinkedIn Learning and A Cloud Guru for full curriculums that cover specific areas such as the basics of a specific platform or tool. At my job at Akamai, I also have access to Akamai University, which offers similar curriculums aimed at teaching a new Akamai solution from start to finish or educate on a specific industry challenge such as web application attacks.

To put my tools knowledge to the test, it helps to have a good setup. Using VS Code as my code editor and the built in Terminal is very helpful. Postman, Docker, Terraform, GitHub are also great platforms/tools to have access to. This way I can interface easily with an API/CLI tool of what I am trying to learn and apply.

Trials are easy, many companies offer 30 day trials to their platform and if you set aside proper time, it should be sufficient to get a basic workflow going. A Cloud Guru also offers built-in lab resources such as cloud instances to test which can be helpful if you go the paid route.

Why learn? In my job as a Developer Advocate, it is very important to not just understand Akamai, but also understand how anyone would use Akamai in their DevOps ecosystem. This means I have to understand the different DevOps workflows used by the industry-leading companies I work with on a day to day basis.

Of course, I cannot know every bell and whistle of each tool but understanding the basic concepts of each and how Akamai could fit in there is an important part of my job, which I can only overcome by continuously improving myself and learn more.

In the 15 years that I have been learning tech (IT / Internet mostly), there have been tons of changes. The rapid pace by which this industry reinvents itself is a fun challenge that keeps me excited to learn something new every single day.

If you have any questions about learning new skills, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on social media!

In subsequent blogs, I will quickly review and rate some of the curriculums I go through and see if I recommend them to you as a worthy investment of your valuable time!

/Mike

 
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