This series is devoted to the principles required for success in Information Technology (IT) careers.
Technology is always changing so IT professionals have to stay ahead of the technology curve or risk losing their jobs or careers!
So you have to constantly update your skills through self study, coaching or training.
This post discusses how you can stay ahead of the technology curve using self study.
Contrary to what you may think, self study requires a considerable investment of time, money and effort.
If you are not aware of this, you may plan to upgrade your skills through self study and only come to a realization of this truth … say after a year or a longer passage of time.
Not to worry, because this post will help you prepare a more effective self study plan.
Why An Effective Study Plan Is Needed
In the IT Industry, approaching self study as if it’s an easy, inexpensive or a quick solution is a recipe for disaster!
Studying information technology books requires considerable personal effort or discipline because tech books are typically not easy to read, follow or understand.
Even when you have a lot of personal discipline, it is still hard to say that you have actually learnt a new skill … because you are accountable to no one else but yourself!
While in College, I discovered that self study is more challenging than it looks. Since I was interested in transitioning to a tech career, I started studying some recommended computer science textbooks .
Unfortunately, the books were written in a boring, tedious, technical style and after a while, I abandoned my self study plan out of frustration at my slow pace of progress!
The sad part is that today, many tech books are still written in the same boring, tedious, technical style, which makes is hard for beginners to follow.
Here is the problem; If you work in an office with other IT professionals like project managers or business analysts, you may look at how they use skills like UML in solving business problems and say to yourself: “I bet that I can learn UML easily by myself”.
Having decided that, you may then shop at Amazon.com or any bookstore for some text books on how to learn UML.
Six months later, you may have abandoned your self study plan because the UML text books were hard to read or understand. You will have lost the time, money and effort you invested in your self study plan or find yourself unable to use UML effectively on the job!
The point is; to succeed at updating your skills, you have to realize that self study is not cheap or easy!
Realizing that self study requires hard work, diligence or careful planning will help you succeed by preparing you for challenges.
Why Self Study Is Harder Than You Think
Reading a novel like the Jack Reacher series is one thing. Studying through a tech textbook on Cloud Computing or Heuristics Design or any tech topic is another!
Why is that you ask? Because Novels or works of fiction like; Jack Reacher – Gone Tomorrow are like the adrenaline packed Fox.com 24 TV show (starring Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer) on paperback … they are written to entertain, thrill and please you.
Tech text books on the other hand are written to inform, and the authors do not care if it comes across as dry, abstract or boring!
To succeed at self study plans, you have to plan for prepare ahead for the challenges. So, here is what you need to know about self study;
Self Study can be boring: It is like having a conversation with yourself, which you can only do for so long.
Self Study can become boring because tech textbooks are usually not written in a friendly, conversational or easy to follow style.
Self Study is not an accountable process: You can skip the topics you don’t like or understand even when they are useful.
The danger is with ignoring or skipping hard to understand but important subjects or focusing on easy to read but unimportant topics!
That is why when you tell a manager or co-worker that you learnt a skill through self study, you may be asked to prove it.
Self Study is not always goal oriented: because it is like driving a car in a foreign country without a roadmap.
You may buy a good textbook, read it through and yet find yourself unable to retain, recall or reuse that learning at your workplace!
Self Study is not always effective: you may think that you understand a topic, only to fail at answering questions based on the same topic at a job interview!
Self Study is really not cheap: on the contrary, you lose time and money when you fail to qualify for job or employment opportunities because your self study plan is ineffective!
Self Study is not easy: if you are reading a fiction book or a novel like the Jack Reacher Series by Lee Child, you will probably have a good time.
On the other hand, if you are reading a technical, career or skill oriented book, you may not have a good time because it is written in an abstract, boring or technical style!
Self Study costs more time: because you are not accountable to anyone, you may start studying because you need a job and then stop studying immediately you find one.
Studying in fits and starts will hurt your career because of its lack of consistency!
Learn How To Study Effectively
Self Study is not the cheap, easy or quick path to upgrading your skills.
Knowing this, here is how to really improve your chances of success using self study plans.
Make Self Study Accountable: become accountable to someone other than yourself.
Make Self Study Effective: become effective by learning how to retain or recall new facts.
Make Self Study Goal Oriented: ensure that your learning results in new skills or the ability to perform new tasks.
Make Self Study Practical: incorporate hands-on assignments or exercises in your self study plans.
Make Self Study Objective: include some objective feedback using practice tests or quizzes. Click here to learn more about using practice tests or quizzes.
Assuming that self study is easy, cheap or effective is a recipe for disaster, because it is none of these.
To succeed, be accountabe to someone, be goal oriented and learn the secrets of effective study skills.