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Author's profile photo Talila Baron

Devtoberfest and Why Self-Directed Learning (Really) Matters

Even as developers create astonishing tech in their day-to-day jobs—and set up complex systems for their customers—they may struggle to keep pace with new trends. Company-mandated training doesn’t necessarily address the gaps. So, developers need to chart their own learning paths.

Since launching in 2020, Devtoberfest from SAP has celebrated not just the need, but also the fun of self-directed learning. Developers can dive into ABAP, SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), SAP HANA Cloud, SAP Build, and much more.

Of course, they can always access free SAP tutorials through the Tutorial Navigator, but Devtoberfest is a great opportunity “to consume a lot of [educational] information in a compressed amount of time,” said Raphael Witte, lead developer/consultant at Syskoplan Reply GmbH.

And this year’s Devtoberfest added an extra element of fun. Eight contest winners participated in a retreat in Newport Beach, Calif. They met with SAP executives, including EVP of SAP Learning, Max Wessel, chatted with the SAP Developer Advocates, and heard from local product teams about how development is done at SAP. The retreat concluded with a full day at Disneyland.

The event wouldn’t have been as memorable (or fun) without our winners: Raphael Witte, Uwe Fetzer, Thomas Steaphen, Wenjing Liu, Raymond dela Luna, Sandra Verónica Solís Sierra, Jens Zahringer and Fabien Henique. So, of course, we’d like to extend a huge “thank you” to all of them!


The Devtoberfest winners pose at Disneyland.

Each winner had his/her unique interest, such as ABAP, SAP BTP, SAP Fiori or SAP Cloud Application Programming (CAP) Model. What united them, though, was the view that self-directed training is crucial to career growth.

“For a developer, it’s important to stay open-minded, to adapt, to use every day as an opportunity to learn,” said Fabien Henique, senior developer and team lead of development services at Nagarro-ES France. “This is why contests like Devtoberfest can be very helpful.”

Read on to learn about the benefits of self-directed learning.

Keeping Pace with New Technology

Developers need to track tech trends and industry best practices. By directing their own learning, they can expand their knowledge in their area of expertise, say, ABAP, but also dig into new technology (low-code/no-code tools, for example).

“I’m a classic ABAP developer and have been for a long time,” said Jens Zahringer, developer with Nagarro ES GmbH. “But the SAP ecosystem has changed so much. Now you must understand SAP BTP, too. You must showcase it to your customers and be confident in the information you present. Training yourself is now as much part of the job as being a developer.”

That’s where SAP tutorials come in. SAP tutorials provide step-by-step instructions that allow developers to learn by building something, say, a workflow in SAP Build.


The Devtoberfest winners enjoy the water in Newport Beach, Calif.

For Uwe Fetzer, an SAP Mentor, and team lead with Silesia Gerhard Hanke GmbH & Co.KG, participation in Devtoberfest 2023 was a chance to step outside of his comfort zone. “I wanted to expand my knowledge beyond ABAP into the area of cloud services,” he said. “I wanted to learn what I could do with CAP, which was not something I was familiar with,” he said.

Taking Steps Towards Certification

For some of this year’s winners, a motivating factor was certification. That’s understandable, as developers with badges and certifications tend to be more attractive to employers.

In 2022, the number of companies hiring developers from non-academic backgrounds increased from 23% to 39%, according to a TechRepublic survey. That’s a boon for developers willing to educate themselves. More and more, recruiters are on the lookout for developers with certifications rather than degrees to gauge a person’s qualifications.

“With Devtoberfest, I was able to do tutorials that will lead to cloud certifications. That’s important for me, because that’s where everything is headed,” said Arwen Liu, an SAP technical consultant.

 Setting Your Own Schedule

It’s not uncommon for developers to work long hours, especially during crunch times. But self-paced learning lets them set their own schedules. That way, they can leverage the time they do have.

Developers can use part of a lunch break, or train ride, to complete one section of an SAP tutorial. When time allows, they can dive into a tutorial group that requires two hours or more to complete.


The winners pose with Thomas Jung (front left), Head of SAP Developer Advocacy, and Michelle Moudy (bottom right), SAP Developer Advocate.

For Zahringer, evenings are devoted to picking up new skills and completing SAP tutorials. It makes for a hectic schedule, but in the end, he noted that the investment in his career is “worth it.”


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      Author's profile photo Sandra Solís
      Sandra Solís

      Thank you for such a wonderful trip and experience, I really enjoyed hanging out with the winners and the SAP developers.

      Author's profile photo Talila Baron
      Talila Baron
      Blog Post Author

      We were so glad you could make it! Thank you for making the trip!