September 11, 2020

598 words 3 mins read

Picking up Something New

Picking up Something New

A friend of mine recently shared this article. Google has started offering multiple online “Career Certificate” programs on Coursera, and has stated that they will “consider [the] new career certificates as the equivalent of a four-year degree." This wasn’t all too surprising. Having done several technical online courses myself (learning AWS, Machine Learning, ElasticSearch), I personally saw that online courses can be very effective in helping people acquire additional technical and software skills.

So with my curiosity piqued, I decided to look through what certifications Google had to offer. Currently, it seems that the choices are an IT Support Professional Certificate and an IT Automation with Python Certificate.

While the IT Support course was interesting, looking through the syllabus, it did seem like the majority of the content were things that I already knew, or practiced (things I picked up building my homelab). The other course, IT Python automation, seemed useful. Admittedly, I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to learning Python. Over the last decade, I’ve probably started several different Python courses with the goal of mastering the language. I would make considerable progress each time, but without a project or use-case to motivate me, the course would be left unfinished once the content go more complicated. However, this did leave me with a good basic understanding of how Python worked, to the point that I have been able to come up with some rudimentary scripts for certain tasks. But it was never at a level where I could produce anything overly complicated.

But now that I am managing my own home server network, and I have access to additional compute resources, I thought that perhaps now would be the best time to properly pick up the Python language. My thought process being that once I properly understand Python, I can then take advantage of the plethora of machine learning python modules, and start some interesting projects at home.

So I’ve gone back to learning Python, again, for the nth time. I enrolled in the “IT Automation with Python” course-circuit (taking advantage of Coursera’s free trial). The syllabus comprises of a circuit of six separate courses, each of them 6 to 8-weeks long, starting from a crash course on Python, to solving real-world IT tasks with Python. Up to this point, I’ve managed to breeze through the introduction course to Python, finishing the 6-week coursework in about 4 days (possible only because I learned Python previously). And I’m now starting the second course in the circuit that looks at how Python can be used to interact with different operating systems.

I’m not expecting to be able to finish the subsequent courses at the same rate as the first one. But I am very excited to learn more on what I can do using Python. From past experience, I’ve always been an “object-oriented learner”, I would only really learn something because it related to some goal that I had to achieve. In this case, learning Python at a more in-depth level, the approach is a bit different. I’m not learning it with an explicit goal in mind, but I’m learning it to see what new goals I can set for myself. I am hoping that with each new course that I complete, I can learn a bit more about what can be possible, and then that will lead me to new goals and projects.

Whatever comes out of it, I think it’s going to be an interesting journey, and I wonder what I’m going to be able to do once I come out on the other side.