Aging in technology can be an interesting and humbling experience. We might have significantly more experience in software projects than many of our colleagues, however as the years go by, it can feel like there is just less energy for pursuing individual learning opportunities... even when the desire and passion is still there. I remember reading Kent Beck’s extremely vulnerable and moving “Me an’ Algernon” last year, and found myself pausing to consider what it is that I contribute to the companies I work with. I have determined that it is my coaching and teaching experiences that are the key events that have effectively defined my career. They have helped me reach a place where I truly feel that I am now best contributing to software… even as I slowly creep closer to that magic number 50.
In this talk, I hope to share some of these life changing experiences, and describe what I have grown to believe is a very real need for apprenticeships in software testing: nourishing a life of learning through the support of compassionate benefactors. I will share some stories of the people who have deeply impacted my life, and in turn have taught me to share all that I know with those who now pursue levels of knowledge that I could never have achieved on my own.
The questions I will ask…
- Is this a mission that should fall upon us as we age in technology?
- Do we have an obligation to invest in, and build long term interests in our colleagues’ development?
- How might we best ensure that they not only learn from us personally, but that we also assist them in identifying and accessing the subsequent paths for learning and career growth?
This goes beyond the notion of mentoring. The history of apprenticeship has existed ever since craftsmanship and skill carried any worth in society. Ensuring skills and knowledge were passed on to (and evolved by) future generations required consistent, supported investment by a guild’s most talented masters. But the essential phase of practicing journeymen rarely gets mentioned. It is here where we learn to not just apply our learnings, but also learn how to take an interest in the growth of others and pass on skills. Perhaps it is here where we need to focus our responsibility, and to learn how to foster the evolution of our beloved craft of testing. If so, where do we begin?