Apprenticeship Patterns Introduction

            In reading the introduction to the Apprenticeship Patterns book, I found a great deal of the material to be interesting. Looking at the learning curve of a software developer in the style of the apprenticeship to journeyman to master stages provided a much better framework for progression than I had seen before and putting it in these simple and recognizable terms makes a career feel more tangible. Beyond this, I was quite interested in a couple of the chapter introductions. Chapter 4 focuses on “Accurate Self-Assessment,” specifically the concept of complacency of being a big fish in a small pond. I do a fair amount of reading online about careers in software development, mainly focused on entry-level positions, competitive internships, etc. It stands out to me that many people in the field push and push to start at the highest level that they can, which makes sense in such a competitive environment. Whether this means working at a FAANG company or maximizing total compensation as fast as possible, the focus tends to shift away from becoming the best the one can be and instead on landing in what is generally perceived as the best environment/position. While I can’t say this is at all unreasonable as people have themselves to worry about and not just their software development skills (I know I definitely have this focus too), it can come to the expense of their long-term career. By this I mean we find a place where we want to be in the present and allow this to perpetuate for however long, not to the detriment of our skills as a developer necessarily, but not really broadening our skills either. The book elaborates on this, saying, “You must fight this tendency toward mediocrity by seeking out and learning about other teams, organizations, journeymen, and master craftsmen that work at a level of proficiency that an apprentice cannot even imagine.” This means that getting comfortable is easy, and for most, it’s preferable to be within one’s comfort zone. Getting outside of our comfort zone is so valuable though. I think it’s inevitable to play the game of comparisons with one’s immediate peers, even at our level of being students. It’s saying, “Well, I could go on and learn x, y, and z, but I’m doing better than most of the class at the current topic, so I don’t really need to.” It’s a trap I’ve definitely fallen into. But our class, our little sector of the computer science world is just that: a tiny little sector. It’s more valuable to focus on what we don’t know than what we do know at any level of skill. I love this concept, intimidating as it is, and it provides great motivation.

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