Just-In-Time Learning

If I spend the next 3 weeks finishing the course and getting the certificate, I would have lost 1 month of investing in something else. And what would I get back in return? Basic Python, SQL, HTML & CSS, Flask and a cert. If I should be honest with myself, I don't need any of these for any currents projects I wish to build.

I started taking Harvard's CS50 course 2 weeks ago (Introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming). The content has been mind blowing and in as little as 2 weeks, I've learned to

  • Implement basic algorithms and data structures in C.
  • Memory allocation & management, garbage collection and representation of data in systems. Everything has been a magical experience so far and I've been enjoying it.

But, it got to a point where I was finding it difficult to push through the material. Partly because it was getting too complex and extremely time consuming.

To be honest, the reason I'm taking CS50 is to explore new content, beef up my CS background, and get some certificates to show to potential employers (Since I don't have a CS degree).

But lately, I started rethinking my initial decisions. I somehow feel like I've gotten all I needed from the course. Besides, it didn't sound right to pause all my other projects to finish this thing I've started. I understand my thought process was to optimize for getting a job whenever I want to, but I prefer showing actual working projects to certificates. I don't even want to work for a company that would prefer a certificate over working software.

Most of this realization came after reading Learning a technology you donโ€™t need right now is a waste of time. The author argues that skills are useless if they aren't in use. This might seem logical, but it's hard to reason yourself out of practical situations that waste your time. And I agree with him ๐Ÿ’ฏ.

If I spend the next 3 weeks finishing the course and getting the certificate, I would have lost 1 month of investing in something else. And what would I get back in return? Basic Python, SQL, HTML & CSS, Flask and a cert. If I should be honest with myself, I don't need any of these for any currents projects I wish to build.

Imagining this makes me sick. Not only am I loosing a full month, I also lose learning more exciting stuff and working on an interesting project I've been thinking of.

After lots of thoughts, I've decided to pause the CS50 course. Since I'll be chiefly needing it for Job searches, I'll complete it right before I start sending out applications.

And this is a reminder to myself that.

  • Time is precious and the best way an engineer can spend it by writing code, executing ideas and building stuff (career-wise of course).
  • A certificate won't do much for me. It's entirely normal to go to an interview without certifications. Now think of going to the same interview without projects.
  • I should only prioritize learning stuff I'll use in the nearest future. Any time spent on acquiring a skill not in use is wasted time.

This is what works for me. I understand it might not apply for everyone. If you think otherwise and have a lot of time, Tweet at me ๐Ÿ˜Š.