April 06, 2009

It's Not Technical, It's Simply Learning

As I wrapped up my most recent semester of school taking a refresher course in web development and a week of interviews with a couple of software companies. After describing my skills and work experience to many recruiters, hiring managers and employees of the companies. It made me take a step back and ponder why people, in general, think having technical ability as it relates to computers and various software applications is so hard? Why is this such a difficult thing for people to grasp or obtain to complete their "tool kits"? For me I think it's simple and it boils down to two basic facts; 1. People are either not interested or 2. not motivated to commit something to their memory.

As you dissect a person's "technical aptitude" (me in this case), all it is really, is their ability to apply knowledge they've learned about a particular subject matter. For me it's how I learn and apply what I've learned in the areas of computers and software applications; with others it could be chemistry, medicine, criminal justice, etc. So does this mean "rocket science" isn't rocket science? No, but it does mean that someone could learn about and apply the knowledge related to rocket science and sound like an expert without ever conducting an experiment. Think about it; all our lives we learn and apply what we've learned and with the resources available to us we shouldn't ask so many questions; or should we?

Well, I wouldn't say we should ask questions because that's what makes us grow; but I would say be proactive in "quenching" your thirst for knowledge. There a far too many solid resources out there for people to not search first, then ask an even more educated question. Just a thought from a guy who thrives himself on only asking a question once when it relates to learning new things, namely technology. So why did I decide to post this you may ask yourself; it's a ramble about learning or the ability to learn, why should I care? It's simple since I've been on the hunt for a new gig I've had the opportunity to speak with many recruiters and hiring managers and have answered many different types of questions that are commonly asked during interviews.

The one question that was asked that really provoked this whole blog post was probably the best question I've had the opportunity to answer during an interview in a really long time. Basically I was asked "if there was one thing that I'd want someone to remember about me from an interview, what would it be?" I know awesome question, so I took a minute took a step back and said, "while I have a diverse background and various valuable skills, I would say I think I'd want you to remember that I have a strong aptitude for learning new things and applying them. Whether it's technology or services a particular company offers; I have a knack for learning what's and who's so that I can be effective and contribute to the main goal of making that company a success."

I thought this was the best answer because it's true that what I feel my best attribute is and in honesty if you ever get a chance to visit my LinkedIn profile where I've been fortunate enough to have colleagues contribute recommendations to my profile. In just about every recommendation is commentary that speaks to my learning aptitiude; things like being able to "pick things up quickly and apply them" or "Geophrey has the ability to understand the client's needs and propose the right solution". Okay I'm done with all of that talk about myself but the point I'm trying to make is all that I've done is taking the ability to learn and made useful to me in my career.

In closing this was just something that hit me as I looked back on my week of closing out a semester and a series of interviews. Next time you have a question or get asked a question answer but also encourage that person to learn more if it makes sense. Like they say, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."


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