Should you get certified?
When starting out as a developer you were probably asked if you had any interest in obtaining certificates. I declined and told my employer I preferred a project to develop some real life skills. Luckily my coach at the time had no problem with this, so he had me carry out a small size in-house project. With the guidance of a senior developer I learned some real practical skills.
During the next projects I was able to apply these skills and they were a great help. It was easy to integrate with other teams because of my first hands-on-experience. The acquired skill set allowed me to keep up with more 'veteran' colleagues. Yet the more time passed, the more it became clear that I still lacked knowledge about some topics. It started out as this eerie feeling and sadly I kept ignoring the knowledge gap until that was no longer possible.
During a recent project interview it was told that, although I have a sound working knowledge of the topic,I lacked profound theoretical knowledge. Sadly I couldn't refute this and that is where the interview ended for me. They told me they liked me as a candidate but that another candidate had more in-depth knowledge, so they decided to pick him.
After this had happened, I set a goal to become a certified Java developer!
Now why did I do this?
The answer is simple: "To start building that deep knowledge."
During the study sessions for this certificate, I find myself asking questions that I never had to ask myself before. These questions arise after being confronted by smaller details. Now does this mean you should pursue certificates? Although getting a certificate is a good place to start it doesn't mean you need to become more knowledgeable.
What should you do?
As a developer you have many options to challenge your knowledge :
- Work on personal projects
- Programming challenges (KATA , 100 Days of Code, Advent Of Code)
- Recreate existing applications
- Write blogs
- Take part in a Meetup / Debate
- Make a presentation
Now to make sure that I keep cultivating my knowledge, I set two clear goals for the next four months:
- Get my OCA8 Certificate by the end of December
- Give a presentation about Design Patterns in March 2020
I definitely recommend setting goals based on the SMART Criteria and — if possible- discuss these with your employer or colleagues . They might see things different and/or recommend an alternative goal.
Thank you for reading this article, and you will definitely hear from me in the future.