How to Effectively Balance Work and Study?
Ukrainian IT-industry lacks about 15 thousand specialists every year — it is a great opportunity for those who want to «enter the IT». However, the lack of personnel doesn’t mean that IT companies are ready to accept people without knowledge. Programming courses can be a good start if you decide to get practical knowledge in the IT field. We have prepared some tips on how to enhance productivity and to effectively balance work and study.
Why programming courses?
Recently Forbes has published an interesting study — in the U.S. the salary of professionals who have received specialized certificates increases by 13-25%. Moreover, the British company Ernst & Young announced that will no longer pay attention to the graduate degree of newcomers, explaining — there is «no evidence» of the fact that successful study at University guarantees further achievements at work.
Practical knowledge is valued above all, especially in the IT field. Certifications and courses suggest that you have not only gained practical skills but also are motivated to go deeper in the specialty. However, studying at programming courses requires more motivation and self-organization than at university, especially in adult age, when you need to balance work and study.
What to consider when choosing courses
When choosing courses, especially pay attention to the students’ reviews, another important criterion is the price. Good courses can’t be cheap (if this is not the internship from the company-employer) because its value is mostly based on the teacher’s salary. The hour of IT specialist’s work is quite expensive, but the practical knowledge he/she shares worth it.
Find out also whether you receive the certificate of completion that can be presented at job interviews or attached to your LinkedIn account. Here are few other factors, that should be considered:
First and foremost, you should decide how fast you want to learn the profession, and whether you have enough time for that. Remember — the shorter the course, the more intense and lasting the lessons will be. Decide how many times a week and how many hours a day you are willing to devote to study, to keep up with all you need and without getting exhausted.
Time for study
The important criterion in course selection is time of day and days of the week that you can devote to study. Basically, courses for working professionals offer evening time, less often — full download for the weekend. If courses are in your city, their location and your working schedule allow you to choose evening time — it will be most appropriate for learning as you are still tuned in a working mood.
Courses on the weekends can become a difficult challenge for you, as you’ll be actually working seven days a week with no rest. In case weekend studying, you should manage your time and downloads very carefully in order to avoid the productivity decrease.
Another studying option for those who know English — online courses, for example on platforms like Coursera or Udemy. Their advantage is the possibility to study whenever it suits you (even at lunchtime) and to get knowledge from teachers of prestigious foreign Universities for very little compensation. However, you should be prepared that the focus will go on independent work, communication with the teacher is minimized or non-existent.
As it was mentioned above, to share actual knowledge, teacher must be an experienced practicing specialist and have certain achievements in his/her main job. It is also important that the style of presentation works for you. To check whether the course and the teacher fit you, be sure to enter the introductory lesson.
Even if your teacher is a genius, courses will still require independent work — at least it’s a homework. Try to plan your weekly schedule, leaving at least two hours per week on independent work.
How to get the maximum effect from studies?
Treat the courses with the same responsibility as work. Put classes schedule and homework into the to-do list to avoid overlap with work tasks. Keep all training materials in one place to have everything at hand.
When studying IT profession, be sure to install all the necessary programs for communication with teachers (instant messenger, Task Manager), and work on assignments (programming environment, developer tools, etc.) to your computer.
Some useful tips to enhance productivity, which is not only great for learning:
John Sonmez, the author of the book «Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual», noticed that he is very often distracted by checking email, social networking, and different things while working. But if to force yourself to work on a task at least 15 minutes without distraction, you will not want to quit it until it is finished. Try to apply the rule when doing homework.
Turn the Internet off
Distraction on social media — a fairly common problem. Some experts even turn off the Internet while working, in order to boost productivity. But if you need the search engine to complete homework, you can install a special program-blockers.
For example, the Self-Control application gives you the ability to block access to specific sites — you can set time limits and put sites on the «blacklist». You may also try the StayFocusd extension if you are a Chrome user. It sets a time limit for the day on a particular site, for example, an hour a day on Facebook — after the time the social network is blocked for you.
Make study buddies
Many professional educators give such advice. It worth to be done not only in order to make new friends. Common work on tasks, options discussion helps to find a solution faster and more effectively.
Again 15 minutes — asking for help
Another 15-minute rule, which is often used by IT companies to accelerate the solving problems process. Its essence is that if you are not able to find any solution within 15 minutes you consult with colleagues (groupmates). Practice shows that this type of brainstorming helps to find the right solution much faster.
Give yourself a break
The career expert Michelle Gibbings recommends taking a break if you work long on a task, even when you are limited with time. In her experience, a short break helps refresh mind — when you return to the task, you will be able to look at it from a different angle and more likely to find the right solution.
Get rid of prejudice — it is never too late to start learning
HR Director Apple Philippe Gaud, at his career peak, abandoned his post in the company and became a teacher. By the time Philippe was more than 40 years, but age was not a barrier. In a note to Forbes Philippe says: «So when is it time? (when you may change your life) When you are 40, 50, 60? All and none of these — it’s the day when you can’t answer the question: what did I learn today?»
The main key to success in studying — you should be interested in the subject. IT Academy from Stfalcon provides the Frontend, QA, Project Management and Internet Marketing courses. You are always welcome to visit a trial lesson or sign up for a consultation with HR Manager to determine the most suitable specialty for you.
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