[Courses] [Careers] How do you judge your skills?

Terri Oda terri at zone12.com
Mon Mar 7 07:20:27 EST 2005

On Mar 5, 2005, at 4:58 AM, Rachel McConnell wrote:
> One thing I find of note is that I don't have a good idea of my skill 
> level against anyone except my SO.  He's been programming for about 15 
> years, and I for only about 3-4 even counting my tiny high-school 
> experience, so I certainly don't expect to be at his level quite yet. 
> But I don't really have anyone else to compare myself to; all my 
> programming experience has been within this two-person company.

Rachel raises something that I've noticed with those of us who are 
self-taught and/or helped by friends:  It's very hard, especially early 
on, to judge your progress, because you've only got a relative expert 
(or two, or more) to compare yourself with.

For those of you who've since moved peer groups through switching jobs, 
schools, courses, new groups of friends, etc... how did you make 
comparisons?  Is it helpful to know how you stand?  Do you try to avoid 
making comparisons in some circumstances?

For me, the first real comparison point came when I entered university. 
  I'd been decent but hardly the top coder among my group of friends 
from high school, but when I hit university, I met a lot of people who 
struggled with stuff I took for granted.  Suddenly I was one of the 
people others asked for help.  It was a bit of a surprise, although not 
an unwelcome one, and it really gave me an ego-boost... and the streak 
of arrogance that sticks with me to this day. ;)

I found it really helpful, because the knowledge of how I stand 
relative to others makes it *much* easier to be assertive and make 
suggestions and defend my ideas.

A thought, though: a lot of us have been taught by expert friends, 
boyfriends, etc, and I'd generalize that a lot of women get into 
computing with the aid of a relative expert.  Is this part of why we 
tend to underestimate our skills more than the guys do?


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