In short: fme makes it possible – beyond the fme Academy – to easily integrate exciting further training formats into everyday working life. In this blog post you can find out what experiences I have had with the Udacity - Data Analyst NanoDegree and how extensive further training can be integrated into everyday work at fme.
But now more concretely:
...my name is Tobias Stein and I have been working at fme AG for more than 2 years as assistant to the board of directors. One of my tasks is the preparation and analysis of the fme key figures and their visualization for the management.
What is Udacity?
Udacity is a private provider of further trainings according to the MOOC (massive open online courses) principle. Founder Sebastian Thrun's original goal was to make his computer science lectures at Stanford University freely accessible to a wide audience via the Internet. Today, the focus has changed a bit and, in my opinion, lies rather on paid, professional further trainings. Together with the well-known players from the industry, future IT topics will be dealt with in practical courses.
And does it work?
Actually, it's quite simple.
Each course unit consists of a theoretical part and short comprehension questions; then it goes directly into practical use. At the end of each topic block there is a task that is sent to Udacity and checked by your mentor. In general, you will receive individual feedback after less than 24 hours. And if you get stuck, there are forums, slack channels and your mentor to help you out.
The motivation: Why all this?
I joined fme AG directly after my studies and, like most job starters, I had little to no experience in dealing with modern Business Intelligence (BI) solutions, the tools for analyzing company key figures. To be honest, who needs data analysis skills for their private life? When I talk to (non-IT-related) people, I usually describe my job as »I evaluate figures for my boss«. In the past, this seemed to be the most accurate job description ;-)
On the job, I have acquired my BI knowledge in the course of time very classically through the support of my colleagues, daily work (learning-by-doing), attending training courses and reading specialist literature. So far, so normal.
I had been with fme for 1.5 years when I first heard about the Udacity Data Analyst NanoDegree and became curious. On the homepage I read about IT future topics..., practical courses..., taught by experts. I wanted to get my own picture of this. After all, my own degree wasn't that long ago and I sometimes missed the university ;-) And besides that, it's a benefit for the company if you do further training, isn't it?
How do I tell my boss?
Admittedly, with the direct line as assistant to the board, the decision couldn't be faster. After all, the CEO is sitting right around the corner and I could just talk to him about it in the next meeting. I prepared myself for the interview and worked out the facts of the course. Course fee: $699, effort approx. 10 hours/week over 4 months, start date: January 2018, contents of the course, relevance to my job, motivation, ...
The answer was short, unmistakable and clear: »Sure - do it!«
Later, when I talked to colleagues about it, they told me about the same experiences: Short and quick decisions from superiors about their wishes for further training. No »let's see when we could set it up« or »uh, we have to see if there is enough budget« statements.
This has shown me once again: fme puts the employee at the center. They are interested in raising the potential of their employees. The most important goal is that it should bring you forward in your work and that it makes sense.
Personal initiative, as in my case, is of course optimal. The supervisor knows directly that you are committed to carrying out the training over several months.
How did I integrate further training into my daily work?
The course required a considerable investment of time of approx. 10 hours per week over a period of 4 months. A big time factor, which you would normally have to take into account in addition to the normal working time. Fortunately not with us. We solved the almost 20 working days that had to be invested for this in such a way that I always blocked Friday in my calendar to spend one working day at home. So I could work 8 hours on Fridays in silence and fully concentrated on my Udacity project. Of course, it didn't work so well every week and it took a lot of courage to cancel meetings with the remark that you were doing further training and needed time for it.
From time to time, e-mails were answered, telephone conversations were made or a meeting was booked, but for the most part I was able to use Friday to educate myself. Getting the support to pull me out of work on Fridays was indeed a luxury.
I was not able to finish the course in 4 months but I was still on schedule. I have expanded my knowledge in the field of data preparation and analysis and have already incorporated some impulses into my daily work at fme. The course offered an exciting insight and partly different perspectives beyond the professional tasks.
I was able to integrate the training into my daily work and successfully complete it; especially because fme offers the necessary scope for further trainings and because fme makes further trainings, even beyond 2-3 days, possible in an uncomplicated way. Expectations fulfilled :-)