# z-code-hangout: Group study sessions for continuous learning and professional development. #MercariDays

Disclamer:This interview has been conducted online, all Mercari employees are now working from home as stated in our CEO message regarding COVID-19.

Keep learning new things is essential to growing as a professional and as a person. However, on a busy work schedule, it’s easy to focus on letting our daily tasks be done and forget to dedicate time to improve ourselves. This is where committing time of our schedule and having discipline with priorities and frequency of our studies becomes important.

Acknowledging that, Tutti Quintella (@tuttiq), a former engineer and Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, created the group #z-code-hangout as part of a company club activity in February 2019 with the purpose of offering a space for all those who want to learn about programming and improve their skills learning something new. We talked with Tutti about her motivations to start this study group and the response so far.

@tuttiq: Learning new things or trying different approaches is essential to growing as a professional and in order to improve our results and outcomes. I wanted to create a space where we can motivate and help each other to keep learning. On a busy work schedule, it’s easy to focus on getting our daily tasks done and forget to improve ourselves, but a lot of times we also lack the motivation to learn or experiment something new on our own.

Seeing other people studying, exchanging ideas, and helping each other, all of this can boost motivation to keep going. I noticed the “network effect” when some people join the session, more people tend to come in the following sessions, when someone stops going, some people also drop out. The recurring meeting’s purpose is exactly to encourage this network effect in a positive direction.

The sessions are open to everyone, engineers, and non-engineers. While for complete beginners in programming it may be difficult to start without any guidance, having a variety of backgrounds and levels in the study group is beneficial because participants can learn from each other and also make the best of existing skills by mentoring someone else.

Members can also follow-up their progress, ask questions, and discuss topics on the Slack channel (archive picture).

By having regular study sessions, the participants are able to commit some hours of their week for professional development, and instead of doing it completely alone, which can be harder, it is as part of a support group. While the sessions in principle are for self-study and each participant decides what to work on, the channel offers a place for communication and interaction between participants, sharing what they are working on, what they want to learn, asking questions and exchanging resources.

Su Gi (@Su Gi) is an Engineer in the US@Tokyo team and also one of the members of the study sessions. She is a very enthusiastic learner constantly looking for opportunities to improve her skills. We talked with her about her experience:

@Su Gi: Before joining this study group, I would study alone and sometimes ask friends for help via text. However, it can feel a little lonely that way. Being around other members who are studying makes me feel more motivated to study myself. Also, because there are members with different areas of knowledge, we can ask each other for help.

During the online study session held in late April (archive picture).

The study sessions were organized weekly in the office between 5:30 to 8:30 pm. However, since we started to work from home in March, now the sessions are held online every two weeks using hangouts.

@tuttiq: Online meetings can be even more efficient since it’s easy to join Hangouts calls. I also think people miss connecting and socializing during this WFH period, so I’m predicting more people joining for some networking time. Since the WFH schedule is more flexible I actually feel more motivated to work on side-projects and study when I don’t have to spend time commuting. I use the internet to share what I’m learning, writing on my personal blog, and connecting with people online, that’s also a great motivation booster.

In Mercari, all members constantly look forward to learning and sharing skills. Having a support study group facilitates communication between members, offering an opportunity to learn and support each other (archive picture).

See you again for more #MercariDays!

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