Sunday, September 25, 2011

After Agile Coach Camp 2011

I spent this weekend at Agile Coach Camp in Columbus, Ohio. It was my first open space conference, and I loved it! Learn about Open Space unconferences on Wikipedia.  I won't even try to explain it.

Friendship, community, sharing, equality, questions, suggestions, personal revelations, self-examination, laughter, fun - I received all these things and more. Zee Spencer summarized some of the sessions here, and I'm sure there will be others. There's a picture of the sessions board showing most of the Saturday sessions.

You can get a small taste of the amazing energy of the event by reading the #accus hashtag on Twitter.

In 2012, Agile Coach Camp will be in Minneapolis. If you can, you owe it to yourself to go.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Advice for someone wanting to get (back) into software development

I was talking to a friend today who was doing software development several years ago but has been unemployed for a while. He asked if I had any ideas about what he might to to get back into software.

(An an aside,  Patrick Welsh already wrote a great piece about why people should consider a career in software)

Here are some of the thoughts I gave my friend on how to get (re)started in the industry:

- If you don't have work experience to show on your resume, create relevant non-work experiences and structure your resume to show them.

- If you're not already on Twitter, set up an account and use the search function to find experts in the areas you are interested in. Follow them.

- Attend groups/events where people who do what you want to do gather. Ask people questions about what they do. Ask what blogs they read and who they follow on Twitter.

- Start learning web programming, throw up a website, publish the code on someplace like github, and keep updating it. One place to start might be:

- Expose yourself to new languages and technologies: ruby, scala, functional languages, automated testing, continuous iteration ...

- If you're not currently working, ask about an internship someplace you'd like to work at, even if it has to be unpaid.

- Be helpful - volunteer for anything related to your targeted field. People remember/like you better if you've helped them. Less cynically, it gives people a chance to see who you are and what your attitude and skills are.

- Don't get hung up on getting/finishing a degree if you don't already have one, especially if it would take away from getting real life experience.

- Read this book about managing your software career:
"The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development" by Chad Fowler

- Consider reading this book about agile software development:
"The Art of Agile Development" by James Shore

Finally: Don't follow my advice without deciding for yourself if it makes sense for you. Ask other people about it as well.