Last summer, a group of over 30 Faithlife developers cracked open a book together for an hour every week.
What book, you ask? A massive C# textbook. Sounds fun, right?
Faithlife didn’t ask them to read a textbook. A few coworkers suggested it and volunteered to get a group going. Most of these developers finished school a long time ago. But they all wanted to learn more, so Faithlife bought the textbooks and allotted time for them discuss what they were learning together.
So many developers wanted to join the group that three Faithlife employees facilitated separate reading groups. I asked one of them, Scott Fleischman, why he thought so many people jumped at the chance to read a textbook about coding when they already had jobs as software developers.
He said, “Just as faith isn’t something that we profess on Sunday and then neglect the rest of the week, education isn’t something that we acquire in school and then neglect.” We have to keep learning.
Scott went on to say, “Faith is something we need to live out every day, and education is something we need to pursue throughout our lives. There are always new technologies and ideas that are important to keep up with in the software development world. The more we learn, the better software developers we become. In my experience, knowledge is directly related to on-the-job performance.”
The reading groups offered a unique, collaborative learning experience. Scott was a facilitator, but that didn’t mean he was teaching the group. Scott says, “I had wanted to read through the text myself, and reading with others helps motivate me to actually finish the reading. Discussions help highlight points I may have missed or not paid much attention to.”
Before starting this group, Scott had participated in two other reading groups at Faithlife. He is a firm believer that reading texts like this helps fill in gaps in his knowledge. “There are details of languages and frameworks that aren’t obvious if you only work with them in a specific capacity. Reading helps broaden my perspective.”
In order to keep producing the world’s best Bible software and a suite of tools to serve the church, we need to keep growing. Scott says, “Self-motivated growth is a core value at Faithlife. The company will pay for books, videos, and other materials that software developers want to read and study. We also have occasional Friday tech lunches, where someone does a presentation on a technical topic and we discuss it.”
Chris Robbers facilitated one of the C# reading groups, and he said “I feel fortunate that Faithlife is willing to allow employees to explore, learn, and hopefully grow on company time. I think it ends up being a win-win, in that employees can expand their skill set and the company can then benefit from this.”
This perspective on growth is why Faithlife also has a special summer reading program called read for cash: where employees are encouraged to read marketing, programming, and theology texts (and we get paid by the page!).
Russ Hawkins, another reading group facilitator, says, “Software development is a career often marked by constant and unyielding change.” Programs change. New technology arises. Developers have to grow and adjust, or risk falling behind. Russ went on to say, “Although academic programs can provide the core knowledge necessary to get started, technology itself evolves at a rapid pace, leaving developers with the responsibility for their own growth.”
But Faithlife doesn’t just want people to grow in their skills. We want our employees to grow personally as well. That’s why we once had a communications specialist come in and share about our different communication styles—so we could learn more about ourselves, and how we interact with each other.
It’s also why we host events like our women in business speaking series.
Russ says, “Some of my favorite learning opportunities at Faithlife have been non-development related, like when Steve Runge taught sessions on discourse grammar, or when the motion graphics team presented the history, philosophy, and application of their craft.”
At Faithlife, we believe learning new things isn’t just a key to success—it’s fun. If constantly learning new things sounds fun to you too, check out our available careers.