OK. Here we go: a new year is coming, and with that always comes the opportunity for a fresh (re)start. That means it’s time to think about where you find yourself right now, versus where you’d thought you’d be (or where you’d like to be, if you’re less than ecstatic about your present situation). So, let’s ponder four potential IT career boosters for 2010:
One: Give of yourself, and you might receive. Volunteer. Although it might seem like a way to divert your energy from your career, volunteering is a great way to make new contacts, tackle new projects, or learn new skills and technologies to do yourself some good while also helping others. Check out volunteermatch.org or www.dosomething.org/volunteer to see what kinds of opportunities might be available for IT professionals with time on their hands in your area.
Two: Pick a technology or a certification, then pursue same. A new year creates an opportunity to renew your knowledge base. Top technologies to consider include storage, security, virtualization, and even Windows 7. Dig into the topic on one hand and relevant certifications on the other, and see what you can put together for yourself.
Three: It’s not that hard to boost your soft skills. Even though tools and technology are the meat and potatoes of IT, who wants an entirely bland if filling diet? No IT career will be harmed if you work on improving your communications skills, whether written or spoken, and likewise, nobody in IT will get hurt if they tackle the topics of project or people management. Think about one of these areas where you could use a boost, then find a support group (Toastmasters International for improving presentation skills, for example, or the PMP cert from the Project Management Institute for project management).
Four: Take stock of your current situation. Ask yourself “How satisfied am I in my current situation?” then ask “What’s missing, or what could be improved?” Pay close attention to the answers, because they can guide you into a career rejuvenation or reinvention plan, as seems appropriate. Don’t be afraid to invest some time and energy, and such funds as you can afford, on self-improvement. Such investments will almost always pay off, if you keep making them, and look for pay-offs as opportunities present.
Sure, these exercises may seem contrived or even artificial. But the more you put into them, the more you’ll get out of them, too. Give it a try, and don’t hold back: you can benefit from this career equivalent to New Year’s resolutions if you build a small clear set of objectives and then march into 2010 to execute them one step at a time. Happy New Year!