Level up: Colorado techies share the coolest skills they've learned on the job

by April Bohnert
August 8, 2018

Ping pong tables, craft beer kegs and free catered lunches are great, but fun perks don’t necessarily make for happy, fulfilled employees. At the end of the day, people want to join companies where they can acquire new skills and advance their careers.

We talked to four local techies about the coolest skills they’ve learned in their roles and how their companies go above and beyond to give them opportunities to grow.

 

TrainingPeaks professional development Colorado tech
Photo courtesy of TraingPeaks.

TrainingPeaks helps athletes train smarter with a suite of endurance training tools and access to world-class coaches. Part of a parent company dedicated to inspiring deliberate practice, TrainingPeaks makes sure its employees have the tools they need to hone their professional skills. Digital Marketing Manager Bryan Alders shared how his role has evolved — and the skills he’s picked up along the way.

 

What is the coolest skill you've learned on the job?

Product and project management has been one of the most fun skills that I've learned while working at TrainingPeaks. Initially, I would help coordinate the launch of a campaign or landing page, but recently I had the opportunity to work with a small team on coordinating the complete redesign of our website. I've enjoyed all the challenges and learning opportunities throughout the project, and I still have so much more to learn.

While learning more about Agile methodologies, the soft skills are truly what will remain valuable both inside and outside of the workplace.”

How did you acquire that skill? How has it proven valuable in your career?

Through a combination of research, online courses and working with our other product managers, I've been able to learn more about effective product and project management.

While learning more about Agile methodologies (UI, UX and data analysis have been incredibly useful), the soft skills like communication, time management, adaptability and feedback management are truly what will remain valuable both inside and outside of the workplace.

 

How does your company provide opportunities for professional development?

Everyone receives a free subscription to Lynda.com, which has great resources to learn just about any new skill you can dream of. Employees are also given the opportunity to attend conferences and workshops related to their field of work. In addition, we occasionally have offsite meetings focused on developing communication and teamwork skills. Lastly, employees are encouraged to meet regularly with coworkers who might be involved in similar lines of work. For example, our product managers meet weekly, not only to discuss what their teams are working on but also to chat about product management strategies and best practices as well.

 

Connect First professional development Colorado tech
Photo courtesy of Connect First. 

Connect First’s omnichannel contact center software helps businesses connect with and retain customers by providing reliable support with near-zero downtime. In order to help its customers’ customers succeed, Connect First starts by empowering its own employees to thrive — both personally and professionally. Kyle Tagg, who works in inside sales and lead generation, explained how mastering one seemingly simple skill has had a major impact on his career.

 

What is the coolest skill you’ve learned on the job?

The coolest skill I have developed at Connect First is the ability to communicate. It can be difficult to understand the unique needs of each potential client. People will always start off with what they want but fail to explain the specifics of a situation. At Connect First, I have learned how to ask better questions to understand beyond “what” our customers need and get to the “why.”

 

How did you acquire that skill? How has it proven valuable in your career?

As an inside sales representative, I get calls every day from potential clients asking about our platform and how we can service their needs. This allows for continual improvement in my ability to communicate and understand others. This is a great life skill, and this is the best situation to build my skills for my own professional goals.

Because employees feel so comfortable, it creates an open environment to be yourself and grow into yourself.”

How does your company provide opportunities for professional development?

Formally, Connect First encourages employees to find areas in which they want to develop professionally. They do this by giving employees the resources needed to take classes, buy books and get certifications to grow personally and professionally. However, this would not be possible without great leadership. By enabling leadership to foster a growing environment, employees feel comfortable taking the initiative.

Because employees feel so comfortable, it creates an open environment to be yourself and grow into yourself. At Connect First, my communication skills have grown, but my confidence in my own ability has grown even more because of the mentorship and encouragement I get from my team.

 

Athlinks professional development Colorado tech
Photo courtesy of Athlinks.

Athlinks provides a database of competitive endurance race data for athletes and offers those athletes a like-minded community with which to share and celebrate their accomplishments. Employees aren’t just encouraged to push themselves physically (as photographed above); they’re also encouraged to push the limits of their professional skills and grow. Software Engineer Erica Silver told us how she’s expanded her mobile development toolkit and acquired valuable new skills.

 

What is the coolest skill you've learned on the job?

I have learned a lot at Athlinks, but learning to build a dual-platform mobile app with React Native has been the coolest thing so far.  

The inclusive environment at Athlinks meant I could ask questions, experiment and learn what was needed for that project without judgment.”

How did you acquire that skill? How has it proven valuable in your career?

I gained this skill by jumping into the mobile app project. Having previously used React for web development, I was well set up to make the switch to mobile, but I was also mentored in that transition and provided a multitude of resources to learn from. This skill has proven itself useful not only in my growth as a mobile developer but also as a gateway to learning other technologies — like Typescript and Rx Observable — that are valuable in the web and mobile space.

 

How does your company provide opportunities for professional development?

I have had the opportunity to attend conferences and to be reimbursed for classes I take. When I was placed in an AWS Lambda project, I was given the time and resources to learn about the AWS ecosystem before diving in. Most importantly, the inclusive environment at Athlinks meant I could ask questions, experiment and learn what was needed for that project without judgment.

 

Valen Analytics professional development Colorado tech
Photo courtesy of Valen Analytics.

In the world of insurance, information is everything. Valen Analytics aims to arm its clients with custom, targeted data analytics that can help them manage risk and drive growth and underwriting profits. Data Scientist Carolyn Romano helps derive insights for Valen’s customers. Here are some of the skills she’s picked up in her time there.

 

What is the coolest skill you've learned on the job?

Coming from a theoretical math background, I’ve been able to develop insurance industry savvy that enables me to build predictive models from start to finish. Some insurers require us to build a custom sample from our data consortium; some are built from their own data. In either case, all models are custom and a new, fun challenge for me to optimize!

Working as a data scientist, there are constantly new techniques and ideas circulating in and out of the office.”

How did you acquire that skill? How has it proven valuable in your career?

Interacting with customers and understanding how they want to grow their business, what their business is and what models to build is a skill that's learned only by being immersed in the industry.

Communicating with customers is one of the most important skills to have at Valen. Without customer involvement we can still build highly-predictive parsimonious models, but they would not be optimized specifically to meet the customer’s needs.

 

How does your company provide opportunities for professional development?

Working as a data scientist, there are constantly new techniques and ideas circulating in and out of the office. When a new idea comes up, either one or a group of us will tackle it, see if it's applicable and then spread the knowledge among the other modelers.

 

Jobs from companies in this blog8 open jobs
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TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Developer
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TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Developer
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Operations
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Design + UX
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Finance
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Operations
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder
Developer
new
TrainingPeaks (A Peaksware Company)
Boulder

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