This past spring, a group of developers from Aptera went to a conference together. Before we went, I knew the trip would be a great opportunity for our team to improve our skill set. As expected, we learned about the latest tools, technologies, and techniques. But there were two other unexpected benefits that made the trip even more valuable. The team improved the learning experience and the learning experience improved the team.
I was surprised how much attending the conference as a team helped me learn. We were able to discuss the topics and techniques we were being introduced to and how we might use them on various projects. This helped me contextualize all the new material. Discussing the pros and cons of the new technologies helped me better analyze what I was learning. And debating the merits of the new processes helped give me a deeper understanding. As it often does, discussing these things before, during, and after the conference helped me think more clearly about them.
As an additional bonus, I was able to hear about what was taught in the sessions I didn't attend.
But what was more surprising was how well the conference worked as a team-building exercise. Even though I went with other Aptera developers, I haven't necessarily worked with all of them on projects. It was great getting to know them better. Sitting around over meals talking about what we were learning was a surprisingly effective way to do this.
Part of what made the event a good team-building exercise was that we did have to travel a few hours to get to the conference. But mostly I just think it was fun for all of us to have time as a team to talk about how we can improve our skill set without the pressure of needing to get back to work immediately. It was nice to hear what my teammates were working on and what they had learned. It was informative to hear about the hard problems they had solved recently. The trip got us excited about writing software.
I'm very thankful that Aptera was willing to send us to the conference. I am more thankful for teammates who love to learn and who challenge me to be a better developer. Mostly, I am thankful that I got the chance to bond with them.
Eric is a Microsoft MVP and Software Architect for Aptera Software in Fort Wayne Indiana, working primarily in the .Net platform. He has been developing high quality custom software solutions since 2001. He is also an adjunct professor of computer science at Indiana Tech. He loves to dabble in new and exciting technologies.