Beyond software development. How to develop a… developer?
Knowledge – this is the capital that forms the basis of professional success for each and every programmer. One very demanding as it requires the programmer to constantly update it, expand it, search for new sources of information and role models that need to be told apart from a bunch of self-appointed experts and homegrown teachers. The pace at which web technologies are changing is absolutely mad and each professional should be up to date with them, as well as with all the relevant industry knowledge.
We at Polcode know all the struggles and believe knowledge to be one of the key values for our company. That’s why we pay so much attention to educating. The most important areas of our focus include:
- In-house training
- Access to e-learning platforms
- Company library online
- Participation in conferences
- Knowledge exchange between employees
- Sharing our knowledge outside
Web conferencing to unite them all
With about 100 programmers on-board, including 20 senior-level specialists, we know that their practical experience often proves a lot more valuable than that of coaches from external training providers. What’s more, many experts reach a point in their career when their everyday job doesn’t give them that much satisfaction anymore. They naturally develop a need to share their knowledge with others. We have some great senior programmers on our team that are just as passionate about programming as they are about teaching. We encourage them to use their passion to get more out of their professional life by organizing internal training sessions for their younger peers. Additionally, most of our training sessions take place online in the form of web conferences. Everyone can participate regardless of whether they work in one of our offices or remotely. It’s incredibly important as all five Polcode offices are located in different cities and there are over 40 fully remote employees. The majority of our web conferences are recorded so that the programmers that aren’t able to participate can catch up on them at their leisure. The topics we have covered during our internal training sessions so far include Symfony2 (basic and intermediate levels), Magento (on a few occasions), web application security, RWD and Ruby on Rails (basic and intermediate). And there’s more to come.
Not just in-house
What programming book would you like to read?
We also cannot forget about the most traditional source of knowledge, that is books. Even though it would probably be most appropriate to say ‘e-books’. The Polcode online library includes the world’s best works on the technologies vital to our company. They prove indispensable for our developers as they prepare for certification exams in Zend, Magento or Symfony. The library grows every day as everyone can suggest a book that would make a valuable addition.
Attend the best conferences with Polcode
The abundance of IT conferences makes for yet another important way to acquire knowledge. Again, it’s vital to consider the quality of the content they offer and that usually depends on the speakers invited. We’re sure that a lot of you don’t even have to be told about joind.in. This website allows you to rate lectures from many conferences. And so, you can find there some well-known names as well as those who just started as speakers. PHPCon2015, the biggest conference for PHP enthusiasts in Poland, was an occasion for our senior developer, Jerzy, to join the list with his lecture “How to become a better programmer?”. There are some events in Europe any PHP or Ruby developer would like to attend. Above all, the list includes SymfonyCon, Laracon, Developers Paradise, MeetMagento, Full Stack Fest and EURUKO. In Poland, the most interesting seems to be the increasingly popular PHPCon conference. The last edition was attended by about 800 people. Events like these are especially worthwhile as they give one the opportunity to brush up on the latest in the industry and attend lectures given by the stars of the programming world – e.g. the creators of popular frameworks. Every year we buy entry tickets for the most interesting conferences, subsequently given away during internal contests so that everyone gets a chance to win some. Sometimes, we decide to give them to those of merit. For example, to our developers who gave their best working as mentors during our summer Magento internship program.
We’re here to help each other
The internal knowledge exchange on a company level doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of tightly-structured trainings. Sometimes all it takes is to ask the right questions – that’s one of the reasons why we host a company microblog. We set it up a year ago to support our internal communication. It has proved extremely useful every time we hold vivid discussions as for what conferences to attend and buy entries for. One can always find a good old chestnut of a joke. But its most important functionality is that it gives us the ability to ask technical questions and tag them with the names of particular technologies. Each tag generates notifications for people who have been previously chosen to observe them. Therefore, when one has a problem regarding, say, Symfony2, all it takes is to ask a question and tag it properly. Our Symfony experts who observe this tag will be notified with an email and will help if possible. It’s especially helpful for our remote employees who can’t ask a question to a friend sitting next to them.
Share your knowledge
Programmers tend to meet up and share their knowledge with peers that work for other companies, but still on roughly the same problems. There are many meet-ups of this kind in both large and small cities that provide a perfect opportunity to share experiences and meet people passionate about the very same technologies. We support them by sponsoring events such as PHPers, Rails Girls or Ruby Users Group and encouraging our developers to attend them and talk about all the advanced projects we work on every day. Last year, in spring, we organized the Polcode Academy, which consisted of two cycles of open sessions. One of the paths focused on Symfony2, the other on Ruby on Rails. In four weeks we managed to train the total of over 40 people. During the training, they worked in groups to develop their first applications with Symfony2 or Ruby on Rails. We’re already planning another edition.
The enormous interest in events like these show just how much programmers want to improve their knowledge. They themselves decide to dedicate their free time to discussing issues related to their everyday work. But is it really only a job? During job interviews, I often ask the candidates whether programming really is their passion. Most of them smile, relax and say with confidence that it indeed is their passion as they love to solve the everyday development puzzles. And there is hardly anything that gives them a bigger sense of achievement than that satisfied look on the face of each user of the applications they developed. It’s not surprising that they’re ready to sacrifice the bulk of their free time to develop projects on their own and learn new solutions only to use them in practice the day after.
Polcode is a company that was founded by programmers, out of sheer passion for programming. This is why we always remember to support our employees in what is most important for them – self-improvement.