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I am a fresh college graduate. I was wondering the following: Do employers allow employees to review materials relevant for the job during the working hours?

For example, let's say I am working as a machine learning engineer. Let's say that for a particular job task I have to review the math relevant to machine learning. Could I take a book that covers the math topics relevant to machine learning and work through the book during my regular work hours?

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    You will have to ask your boss as this will vary from place to place, gotta VTC for that reason I fear. – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 25 '20 at 17:10
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    Vote to close, as this makes the question off topic here. There is no universal blanket rules around the issue you are describing, it will all vary from company to company, so we cannot really answer this. Check out the tour – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 25 '20 at 17:12
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    I can't imagine any professional setting where the rules are so draconian that one would need to ask for permission, let alone ever be denied, access to reference materials. NO ONE can keep everything in their head. Perhaps in some "air-gapped" high security workplaces web access would be out of the question, but physical paper books? Who would have such a rule? – teego1967 Aug 25 '20 at 18:38
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    @DavidHammen, it appears the OP is talking about an occasional 15-30 minute reading from a book. – teego1967 Aug 25 '20 at 18:39
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    Generally reference materials are not only allowed but encouraged. Unsure why this question is closed. I've never worked anywhere where it was disallowed. Joes answer pretty much covers it, but vtro anyway. – Kilisi Aug 26 '20 at 0:14
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Do employers allow employees to review materials relevant for the job during the working hours?

Many do. Some don't.

It depends on the job, your role, the employer's expectations, etc.

For some jobs, you are expected to know how to do the work without consulting materials. For other jobs, reviewing such materials are a normal part of the process.

Could I take a book that covers the math topics relevant to machine learning and work through the book during my regular work hours?

Using such a book as a reference probably makes sense. Trying to learn how to do your job from such a book probably doesn't.

When in doubt, discuss it with your boss.

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    Totally depends. OTOH reading such a book when moving to an new framework or getting in as a junior developer where the employer KNOWS that you lack this type of knowledge is also quite normal. I have had contracts where I spent MONTHS getting into the codebase and reading up on references. – TomTom Aug 25 '20 at 19:35
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Do employers allow employees to review materials relevant for the job during the working hours?

Strictly answering the question, some do, some do not.

I'm going to infer there's an XY problem at hand here: "How much time should be spent on self-learning?" which again depends on your manager/employer, but if they are a competent manager of a tech company, they should expect a certain amount to be allocated to pure research, depending on the exact job role.

You specifically mention "machine learning engineer". This could be:

  • Software engineer - you are taking pieces developed by other software engineers and data engineers and putting them into an application
  • Data engineer - taking researched algorithms and putting them into a pipeline for use in production
  • Data scientist / analyst - you have reams of data you need to make sense of
  • Researcher - researching and developing novel algorithms
  • Senior engineer - like the above, but you also have some engineers/scientists
  • PI (primary investigator) - you are orchestrating others to do the above

As you go up this list, you can and should be doing more pure research to stay on top of advancements, and implementing challenging mathematical work into code.

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