When people ask me how to get a job where I work, I tell them to be curious and experiment at home. I’ve learned so many valuable things from tinkering with code at home and it has made a big, positive impact in my career.
In the past it has been a lot of website stuff, but since my move to WordPress, that has pretty much disappeared. Lately it has been stuff that a computer science geek would call “ETL” (Extract Transform Load) programs. I enjoy taking my data out of one system and storing it in a common place that I control. For example, my Ecobee thermostat logs a ton of data every day but it lives in the EcoBee server. I use their programming interface to download the data and store it in my own database. I do the same thing with my irrigation controller, fantasy football and a few other gadgets and services. There’s not a lot you can do with the initial data right at the beginning, but as time goes on, you build up a pretty large data set and you can start to see some interesting trends. As I move into more of a data science position it’s great to have a big dataset of data that’s interesting to me personally.
Learning is a lot more fun when you’re doing it to achieve a goal that interests you. So why not find interesting things to learn that can benefit you in your job?