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How do you become dynamic?

 
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I am about to graduate and one of the things my college tries to prepare me for is the skill of being dynamic in the real world.
One day, as a hired consultant, you might be put in front of new technology you've never seen or heard before and you have to be able to find your way with it within 5 days.

How do you 'learn' that? How do you learn learning something completely new from 0 to adequate in a very short time span? What does that entail? Do you look for quick solutions on the internet? Do you try to find solutions with your colleagues or are you on your own, throw in front of the lions without help from anyone? Does it require me to have a huge brain?

I am afraid of the future. I am afraid of not being able to do this.

How do you gather this skill?
 
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Chances are you will not become a consultant until you have several years' experience. You will probably start with an entry‑level job where you will be trained to put your knowledge to use.
 
Ryan McClain
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Chances are you will not become a consultant until you have several years' experience. You will probably start with an entry‑level job where you will be trained to put your knowledge to use.


My training is my internship, which is exactly that: train for 8 weeks at a company to put my knowledge to use. Then follows graduation.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Your training will continue for years.
 
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Continiously learning in your IT career requires 2 things

a) A fundamental understanding of the concepts behind the technology: You cannot learn something from scratch in 5 weeks. That's impossible. What you can do is learn the fundamentals that the technology is built upon, understand the problems that the technology is trying to solve, and then understand how exactly the technology solves the problem. This requires years to develop. Hopefully, your college degree has prepared you for this

b) Understanding how you learn best: Differrent people have differrent ways of learning. Some people like formal courses. SOme people like instructor led hands-on courses. Some people like to get hands-on themselves. Some people learn from a book. Some people throw the manual and jump into trying to build something. You need to find what works for you. Hopefully, you have had some practice figuring out how you learn new things when you went through your college courses. Colleges don't just teach you the subject matter. They also try to teach you the meta-skill of being a life-long learner. Another way of becoming a self-learner is by trying to become a polyglot. Take a language that you have never touched before and learn it. Observe what makes you learn faster.

If you are going to be a programmer, you are going to be a life-long student. Not only do you have to continually keep learning new technologies, you have to keep learning new domains. When you build software, you are ultimately trying to figure out a solution for a problem in a domain that you have no training for. In my 20 years of being in software, I have worked in companies that have been in publishing, retail and manufacturing, healthcare, finance and education. I have had to teach myself those domains while delivering code. You get a lot of help from other people, but you still have to learn new things.
 
Ryan McClain
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Campbell Ritchie wrote:Chances are you will not become a consultant until you have several years' experience. You will probably start with an entry‑level job where you will be trained to put your knowledge to use.


I've just checked my recently graduated (< 1 year) classmates' LinkedIn profiles and they are all consultants now, so there we have it.
 
Ryan McClain
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Thank you for your kind explanation, Jayesh A Lalwani.
 
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Ryan McClain wrote:

Campbell Ritchie wrote:Chances are you will not become a consultant until you have several years' experience. You will probably start with an entry‑level job where you will be trained to put your knowledge to use.


I've just checked my recently graduated (< 1 year) classmates' LinkedIn profiles and they are all consultants now, so there we have it.



Consultant has 2 differrent connotations in the IT industry.

Outside of IT industry, consultant is synonymous with "high priced expert". Generally, the idea is that this person has lot of industry experience in a niche field, even more that your own employees, and you are calling this person to look at your problems so they give a solution that your employees can't come up with. For example, you hire a management consultant who looks at your management practices and reccomends on how you can become more efficient. Or you hire a tax consultant who goes over your taxes and recommends how you can pay less taxes. This practice allows a company to lean on the expertise of someone who has lots of experience, without paying them full-time
When you need labor that you need on a temporary basis, you go to a temp agency. The temp agency sends you people who know how to get the job done, but aren't really experts. The temps work on the task for 6 months, and then move on to the next job (or might be hired by the company)
These are 2 seperate concepts

In IT, high-priced experts are called consultants, and low-priced grunt labor are also called consultants. The thing is sometimes, low-priced grunt IT labor costs a lot more than people who don't understand IT are comfortable with. So, the managers in the hiring company don't call them temp labor. They call them consultants. It makes it easier pill for upper management to swallow. Oh they are consultants! Sol I guess it's ok if we pay them $90 an hour. If you know a consultant who is a consultant right out of school, s/he is not a consultant in the traditional sense. S/he is a temp worker.
 
Ryan McClain
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In the case of my best friend who studied with me, he's a high priced Oracle Certified Expert now with a lot of expertise in that niche that no one else knows. He also spent a full year studying for his OCE certification. He did some grunt work the first six months after graduation, but now, ten years later, he's head hunted for his skills. If I recall correctly, thanks to his expertise, my friend costs a company about $850 per day and this would be $113 per hour. His next ambition would be to get hired by Oracle, but that requires some more years of expertise.

Again, thanks for your explanation.
 
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Ryan McClain wrote:
How do you learn learning something completely new from 0 to adequate in a very short time span?
...
I am afraid of the future. I am afraid of not being able to do this.

How do you gather this skill?


You'll find that for practical purposes pretty much everything is the same as everything else! And if the designers of the product were thinking like engineers and you're thinking like an engineer, a lot of things will be intuitive.
Also, you will only have to do this if you're lucky. I think a lot of people do the same thing for decades.
 
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