Reviewing 2020 Goals and Covid-19 Isolation Learning

We’re almost a third of the way through 2020 already (can you believe that?!), so I thought it would be a good time to review some of my 2020 career goals.

In this post at the end of December, I set myself some New Year career goals; mostly certifications I’d like to achieve, along with a rough target completion date.

By today’s date, 12th April, I was planning to have VMware VCP-DCV complete, and be preparing to take the CompTIA Security+ by month’s end.

The reality? I’m yet to pass the prerequisite VMware Foundations exam before doing the Professional exam. The detailed daily study plan I created for myself was adhered to for less than a week. Anything related to dipping my toes into security, which was the purpose of the Security+ exam, has been kicked down the road.

So what’s with the hold up?

Well, obviously a global pandemic put the brakes on things! At least that’s the obvious place to lay blame. A family member sick in hospital for weeks with no chance of a hospital visit has resulted in some down days. But if I’m honest with myself, the last couple of weeks and the next few weeks are a huge opportunity for study and career advancement, the likes of which I might not see again any time soon.

Firstly, we’re in a lockdown, and are only advised to leave our homes for essential travel. Second, my IT department is on a split rota; essentially a week on and a week off. I literally have more time than ever to study. And third, there are many IT learning sites such as PluralSight and Coursera providing free premium courses and membership for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic to encourage people to stay indoors (and of course to get you hooked on their content!).

The good news is that in the past week I have finally found a rhythm to this new routine; I’m back doing a daily workout (albeit at home), I’m back dabbling in guitar, and I’m back to some solid study.

In the last few days the isolation policy has been extended to May 5th. That give me 13 days off work. 13 days I’m supposed to stay housebound. 13 days that I can commit to a few hours daily study.

I’m thankful to have recorded my New Year resolutions on this blog, so that I am accountable for their failures, and I do the same again now to remain accountable. And so my new target for completing VCP-DCV is May 5th. Maybe along with celebrating the passing of my exam I’ll also be celebrating the end of Covid-19 isolation and the ability to visit a loved one.

The last few weeks haven’t been completely devoid of learning though. For some reason I decided on a whim to learn C#. I’m not even sure why! I’ve always had a desire in the back of my mind to program a computer game. Maybe it’s the fact that C# is the preferred scripting language for Unity. Maybe it’s because I often overhear our developers working in C#. Maybe I just needed a distraction from life and something new to sink my teeth into.

Already knowing Python to a beginner/intermediate level was very helpful in getting to grips with C# quite quickly. I would never consider myself a programmer, I’m barely a “scripter”! But I have to say I find C# very intuitive and easy to use, I was surprised by how quickly I got up to speed. I had previously tried my hand at C++, maybe years ago before being exposed to Python, but these last few weeks learning C# is the first time Classes and Inheritance have really clicked and appear useful to me.

Of course the struggle now will be to find uses for C# and to not let it slip away, having to re-learn it again in a few months, or the knowledge just drifting away completely due to not being used. I find it difficult to warrant starting a Unity course, as much as I’d love to. The idea of trying to write a game is overwhelming, but so is the guilt of doing something that isn’t career focused. I’ll start a Unity lesson, complete it, and then think “Wait…is this just a complete waste of time? I’ve no illusions of creating a game of any large scale, technical achievement or critical acclaim, it’s purely a personal aspiration, but still…it takes TEAMS of people YEARS to make even quite simple games…what the hell do I think I’m doing?! I don’t have anything new to add to this field“.

And yet on other days it will seem exciting. Something creative. Something that isn’t work. No matter what the advancement, even if it’s creating a poor man’s version of pong, it’s still a step toward your personal goal, no matter how small.

I find this constant back and forth trying to justify my free time an almost daily struggle!

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