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The Value of Not Knowing
When I came to Red Nova Labs, I had never done any sort of web development. PHP was something that your 5th grade D.A.R.E. program warned you about, CSS was a team-based computer game, and Ruby on Rails sounded like a kid’s book about trains. Since then, I’ve had an incredible crash course in all sorts of different technologies. While I can’t quite call myself an expert, I certainly am far more knowledgeable than I ever could have predicted I would be before I started working here. In order to make the best products possible, we have to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. That means no one on the Red Nova Labs team can afford to stop learning, from summer interns to senior level employees.
By creating an atmosphere where everyone is always learning, we accomplish a few important things. Firstly, there is a strong emphasis on working together. If a situation ever occurs where only one person knows how to work something, production will stall the moment that person has a sick day. Thus, we work hard to let knowledge diffuse evenly throughout the company. Since everyone is working on something different, the result is that no single person has the sole job of showing others how to do things.
A second advantage of our practice of constant learning is that it keeps things exciting. If we stuck with a single piece or version of the many tools we use in development, it would not take long before our day-to-day work became dull; we would be ultimately repeating and refining the same processes over and over. When the work to be accomplished is boring, the drive to complete it is low and it takes longer to finish. This hardly makes for a good work environment. Additionally, this apathy would begin to show itself in our finished products. Without the natural curiosity that comes from learning new things, we would be less likely to develop and implement exciting new features. Not to mention that our aging tools probably wouldn’t even support those features!
Although I am still in college, I am already sure that this mantra of constant learning will guide my future professional career. Most people choose a field of expertise based on what they are most passionate about, yet it seems that far too many lose that passion after the repetition that comes with a “typical” job. Such a fate is something that I can never imagine subjecting myself to, and the best way to keep a passion alive is to make sure that it stays new and fresh by learning new things! There isn’t time in a single lifetime to completely master any subject, so there is no excuse to ever halt your exploration of things that interest you.
Please share your personal experiences about learning and the evolution of your career in the comments. We’d love to continue the conversation!