The One with Progress Tracking

One of the elements of my “apprenticeship” is a giant sheet of learning topics, divided into the main categories Testing, Software Design, Communication, Agile Methods, Tools and Fundamentals, with subcategories and themes for most of these subcategories. We put everything in there that came to our minds as “something a software developer should know something about”, back in November last year. Then we highlighted some subcategories and some themes as things I would be working on for the next 3 months, and I did a self-evaluation on a scale of 0 to 5.

After three months, we did not change any of the topics but we also did not really choose my tasks according to these topics anymore. And I did another self-evaluation that was not really encouraging because I did not felt like I had increased in many of the topics. To be totally honest, I did not feel like I could increase my score by 1 in even one single topics, but I did do it for a few.

Yesterday it was another three months since the last evaluation and I again did not feel like I had really chosen my tasks according to the highlighted areas and now I really felt like there was no topic where I could increase my score by 1. We considered a few options for changing this, in order to stop this sheet (that was supposed to be helpful and encouraging) from pulling me down. One possibility would have been to stop using integers and go down to one decimal place. But that makes it even more difficult to make an initial assumption.

My mentor then suggested that I stop making a big evaluation every 3 months but instead note down when I have worked on or learned something about a topic. I think that’s a good idea. I have now decided that I will take some time in the evening to mark up to five topics that I have worked on that day. This will hopefully enable me to better see what different things I have been doing and learning about after 3 months. And maybe I can then come up with another way of evaluating on some kind of scale.

I only need to find a better way to represent all of this now. It currently lives in a Google sheet but it’s not a table, it was just easier to use the cells to structure this visually. But it is still too big to really take in which makes it confusing and hard to take stock of. Adding new columns for this quarter took me a really long time and since it made the sheet even bigger, I manipulated the categorisation a bit by pulling some subcategories together under a new one. That doesn’t make it easier to track progress though, when the areas are very big. I have no idea how to make this better, though.