Training Web Workers... The Jedi Way

Just as the Web evolves, the companies and individuals working on the Web must also evolve. New technologies are constantly coming from fresh new faces. New companies continue to emerge with new ideas and better ways. There is no end to the "new"-ness bestowed upon those of us whose source of prosperity is the Web. 

Website Magazine is not immune to this evolution when it comes to our print and Web publications, or to our editorial staff. It is just one important part of our success over nearly six years. In fact, we embrace change and invite progress.

Recently, our esteemed senior editor Mike Phillips moved on from the hallowed halls of Website Magazine and into the trenches as a senior copywriter for an interactive marketing agency in Chicago. Mike's time here was well-spent and his success well-earned and well-documented. His future looks bright, as many of us knew it would, but it was not without many years of training that he could evolve into the sophisticated and knowledgeable Web professional that he has become.

To help fill the void created by Mike's departure, Website Magazine has recruited two dynamic people as associate editors. Right now they are in training to become the next great Web workers. To be like Mike, if you will.

Training those new to the business Web is not, I can only assume, unlike training Padawan learners in the Star Wars movies. The entire 'Net ecosystem is made up of Younglings - those who are just learning to control the "Force" and wield their virtual light sabers. But as Star Wars aficionados may know, the Youngling stage is only the first part of Jedi training. They must spend years of training as a Padawan, in which they work closely with Jedi Knights and Jedi Masters before their own formal trials of knighthood.

And in many ways, the tests that a Padawan must pass before becoming a true Jedi are similar to those of a Webmaster - there are tests of skill, courage, general insight and knowledge. Training to be a Jedi (or a Web professional) is challenging and needs to be taken seriously - that's the Jedi way and lifestyle.

There are many things I, too, have learned (or relearned) as my Padawans embark on their journey toward becoming Jedi Knights and masters of the Web and begin to encounter these trials and tests. While even I fall short of being a Grand Master the likes of a Yoda, it is to him which I turn for guidance as my Padawans are trained.

"Truly wonderful the mind of a child is."
What impressed me most during the recruitment phase of the Padawans was not their interest in the Web, the opportunities it presents or their existing skills or knowledge (which are all impressive). What was most appealing was that they were open to learning - without preconceived notions of what it takes to achieve Web success. Their minds were open to the possibilities.

"Always in motion the future is."
In a fluid industry like the Web, it is essential to understand that the only constant is change. Consumers change behaviors and new technologies continuously emerge - once you feel as though you have mastered one tactic, it's already old hat. Knowing that the future is always in motion will serve new Web workers well. While it is important to be trained in specific ways, staying abreast of new trends and technologies will prepare you for greater success.

"Do or do not; there is no try."
Perhaps the most important lesson I will attempt to impart to my Padawans is to fear nothing, try everything and to simply keep "doing." While they are not saddled with years of failures or unnecessarily bolstered by past successes, they are more than willing to take risks - something all successful people have in common.

I have been fortunate to be able to revisit many of the basic principles I have been taught over the years, explaining complicated subject matter in a way that is both easily understood and interesting. It has reinvigorated my interest in the day-to-day happenings on the Web and prepared me better for my own future success.

There is much to do for our Website Magazine Padawans, and they are learning quickly. Already, they are beginning to understand industry relationships, the intricacies of certain technologies and the uniqueness of various platforms - albeit not without the occasional important lesson that needs to be learned.

But as Yoda once said, "When you fall, apprentice, catch you I will."