The single step anyone can take to become a better developer is learning to solve problems. That is what separates coders from developers. Thus, any action you take to learn or advance skills must incorporate application. New and impressive skills are not going to help unless you also know how to apply those to problems you face,

Learning To Solve Problems With A Skill

A painfully simple example might be the best way to explain this situation. You can be taught the skill of creating fire. While it might seem an entertaining skill, the true value is when you learn that you can use the fire to heat cold hands or cook a meal. The fire creation skill is not much more than a conversation piece until you add to that the problems it can solve. This is something that gets brought out when people craft an elevator pitch.

Describe The Value, Not The Skill

A good elevator pitch covers the problem you are solving, the solution, and the value it brings. Your skills or tools are practically or entirely inconsequential. That is the same for any skill you have, whether you spend two hours learning it or two years. While that gives many boot camps and online tutorials incredible value due to the lack of invested time, they often miss the critical concept. You should not simply add a skill. The course should teach learning to solve problems with the skill.

Traditional Education

This is a weakness often pointed to in classical education. We learn through memorization and repetition rather than through a practical focus. In technology, this is a common red herring. Students learn, for example, how to code in Java by learning syntax instead of solutions built in Java. That is not far from teaching someone to nail or screw boards together without showing them how to make furniture or a structure. Skills without the ability to apply them are useless.

Next Steps

All of this is to help select a class, course, boot camp, or other avenue of education. Life is too short to add skills to our resume mindlessly. There is always time invested in learning and often other resources as well. While there are countless sources where you can learn, there are differences. That is at the core of why we do what we do. It is why our focus is on building better developers. Your time is valuable, and we want your investment to provide the most significant return possible.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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