Being a web developer means always learning, somehow

The first time I worked with other web developers in a team, I already knew a bunch of things that they didn’t. At first I thought this was because I was smart and they were lazy, but later I realised it was because everything I had learned about working on the web I had learned in the previous couple of years. The way they approached problems and the tools they used were the same ones they had used when they first learned the subject, usually around the time they had left university.

After a couple of years, I realised that things were starting to move past me and that I was in danger of being left behind. A difficult thing about being a developer, and this is no doubt true of many jobs in technology, is that the knowledge and techniques of your field move on rapidly and continuously. If you stop learning at any point, your skills start to go out of date and eventually become obsolete.

It’s a big responsibility to keep on top of things, and it’s not always one that employers invest in. There’s a default expectation that any learning you do be done in your spare time. But where does this magical “spare time” come from? That’s a genuine question. I don’t laugh at developers that are stuck in the past any more. I see how difficult it is to keep learning, especially for those with many responsibilities outside of work. You can talk about “passion” all you want, but it’s not just about attitude, or a desire to improve yourself, it’s also about making sacrifices of your time and about taking time away from other things that may be just as important.

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