Every now and then, I get the opportunity to think about the past. Last week I had a chance to hang out with my friends and talk to a group of students from Yale. That was an opportunity to bring a group of friends back together. It felt like a flashback to one of our old episodes of NAP (Not a Podcast).

The Best Question

There were the usual icebreaker questions, and then several questions to the panel. One question forced me to think a lot about the past.

When you were in school did you see yourself where you are today?

The obvious answer to this question is no, but thankfully I didn't go first, so I had time to think about it. I remembered that I was a computer Lab Aide in high school. Helping people with computer science problems. I had the same job in college and after I started working in the print industry, I picked up training gigs all over the place, which continued until my current job at LinkedIn Learning as Senior Staff Instructor.

Yesterday versus Today

Although the things I'm doing today are very different, I think the essence of what I enjoyed (helping others) was present all the way back to my youth. I wonder if you recognize something about what you're doing today that you can relate to what you were doing in school.

According to the Washington Post.

Only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major

By the time kids are ready to go to college, not all of them know what they want to do. I ended up getting a Bachelor's in Journalism with a Graphic Design focus. And to tell you the truth, I'm most thankful for the courses I took in school that didn't seem that useful at the time.

The Useful Classes

I had lots of extra English and writing classes. As a student with a graphic design focus, that didn't seem that important. Today, I realize that most of what I do as a teacher is writing; even though I teach computer science topics.

There were also classes on logic, film, speech, which were all interesting and have helped me in one way or another. The logic class is obvious, but also helped me figure out when individuals make poor arguments. The film class taught me a lot about storytelling, which is the foundation of any performance, even when doing a course on React or Vue.js. Speech is self-explanatory and a good example of something I thought I'd never use again. How wrong I was.

I wonder if you could share in the comments the class you took in college that you thought you'd never use that you're glad you took. Here's a sample from Steve Jobs.

A common problem developers have with school is that some of the content is outdated. That can be a fair critique, but I think that's missing the point. It doesn't matter if they taught you the absolute most cutting edge courses, it'd be outdated by the time you graduated. The greatest thing you can learn in school aren't the topics, but how to learn.

Learning to Parse

When I was studying for my Masters, I remember this class where I had to read five main sources each week. One chapter each from three books, as well as a couple of research papers. Then, I had to write a four bullet summary for the teacher. That was really hard, but it taught me to digest a large amount of information and distill it down to the essentials.

I had two classes that semester, plus a full time job while I was teaching my own college class. I did way better the second time I went to school for the Masters. The first time I eked out a low C average and had to be on probation when I first joined the Masters program. I got a 3.95 GPA the second time, not because I was any smarter, but because my life and experience taught me how to learn...digest, parse, take notes, write. A lot of doing well in school comes down to effort and putting in the hours, but also learning how to be efficient at learning and communicating.

School gives you an opportunity to prove you can handle a ton of input with deliverables like reports, tests, posts, interactions and in my case apps and sites. If you can handle that, then you can handle a regular job just fine. Learning how to work in teams...the thing you often dread in school, becomes a huge component of your success as an employee. It's crazy, but now that I'm older I appreciate those opportunities a lot more.

The Surprise

Speaking of rewinding, I'm working on a course covering the new features in Bootstrap and how to migrate. You can see a sample slideshow, which is how I record the course here.

Bootstrap 5: New Features and Migration

Well, just this week, Bootstrap went ahead and released a new version. That means revising the course I just turned in so that it's up-to-date. Digest...parse...take notes...write, it's the same thing I learned when school taught me how to learn. That's the chaotic nature of my job they don't teach you about in school that's the key to doing well anywhere.

I managed to do a quick episode of The Toolbox showing the new features.

I felt more comfortable this week doing an impromptu show. I'm continuing my journey in getting better at streaming. I'll talk to you next week.