I’m Etinosa Obaseki, I’m a software engineer and I’m going to give a lightning talk titled “Learning on the job while unemployed”. This talks gives a series of tips for making the most of an unemployed period in terms of gaining valuable experience for when you return to the workforce.
So, as a bit of backstory, I left my job last year to pursue a masters at Covenant University and not too long after, I realized that I might get a little left behind professionally if I didn’t deliberately keep up with that sphere of my life. This talk summarizes the habits I’ve found most helpful in that regard.
Work Experience is crucial. Especially when you have to confront a variety of cases and issues at work, your growth from the exposure can be exponential.
Tip #1 is to cultivate your professional circle. This means making and maintaining friends that currently work in the industry and role you are interested in. If you’ve just left a job, you could try to maintain the relationships with your (ex-)colleagues.
Engage them on work issues. What challenging things have they done recently? How did they handle it? Of course, you have to be an active participant. Propose alternatives, ask if they considered some other angle.
Doing this helps keep you sharp and your mind tuned to work problems while also maintaining and potentially expanding your professional network in anticipation of your next opportunity.
Tip #2 is contribute to open source. Another way to put this, would be to say “Volunteer your skills”. This helps you practice the skills you already have while potentially exposing you to new situations. It would help to treat the tasks you have while volunteering as professionally as possible to help build up good habits.
Tip #3 is to learn a new skill. With more free time on your hands than you would have, it’s a great opportunity to pick up new skills or deepen existing ones. Try to keep it structured though. Enroll in classes or pick up a book. It’s also important to keep track of your progress and share as much as you can.
So, write about what you’ve learned. Communicating your ideas is an important skill in any discipline and I think that writing down what you’ve learned helps to solidify that knowledge for you as well as help other people who might read your work and be able to use the mental models you’ve developed.
The summary of all of this is Learning In Public. Embracing this can help keep you accountable, grow your networks and help you develop and practice new skill.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this talk. Thank you for listening.