No one is born with the skills needed to be an expert in their craft and very rarely are skilled immediately after learning how to do something new. As the new member of the team you may not notice it, but it took your other team members years of practice to get to where they are and you can get there too. Taking risks and making mistakes are important parts of learning new skills and honing your craft. Most work environments provide very little opportunity for young developers, or apprentices in most fields, to make these mistakes or the time to work through them on their own. It’s important to put aside time to work on a personal project or two in order to work on new skills or just get more comfortable with the skills that you already have.
When I worked for Geek Squad I would often be at the counter talking to customers and would have to try and identify what the issue with the computer was and either perform a quick fix or document the specific issue for intake and extended repair. While we had the opportunity to make some temporary mistakes or try a fix that does nothing, we did not have that luxury at the front counter when working directly with customers that expected us to know exactly what command to run, or the location of every setting for every system and operating system. What I chose to do was to buy a cheap laptop, take it home and essentially find various ways to break it. In this low stress environment, I was able to get more knowledgeable with different systems and common problems.
This is a tool that I intend to use as often as possible when starting a new career. While I have had practice and learning while completing assignments for the past four years; real world projects and capacity of assignments will vary greatly from what I have done so far. My plan is to clone my workspace at home to an extent. This will allow me to create a sandbox to try new solutions without breaking programs or causing more work for my other team members. I believe that this is a double edged sword though and you need to be careful with how much additional work you take on without finding a hobby and personal life to balance it with. I find the breaks beneficial because they allow me to think about something else and that’s when solutions often become clear; getting too consumed with solving a problem that you are practicing on you no longer see the forest through the trees and risk burning out.