Posted by: Ed Tittel
Career planning, IT careers, IT certification
Thanks to the email link in my blogs, and through my profile, I’ve received quite a bit more email from “interested parties” for my first couple of blogs than I ever expected. Therefore, let me continue with my thanks to those of you who took the time to respond to my postings and to share your concerns with me, especially when it comes to revitalizing an IT career, or finding new ways to bring work and avocation together.
If there is a single concern I heard throughout these communications, it has to do with keeping one’s technical knowledge bases sharp and relevant. And although some younger members of the audience indicated a desire to maximize their income potential as a paramount driver, respondents across the board appeared equally interested in improving their professional value as the best means of preserving their current positions, and preparing to advance into new ones.
I have to agree that what you know how to do, and do well, is what’s most likely to keep you ensconced in your current position, and very possibly, to open doors into new opportunities. It always bothers me when entry-level people want to know what niches in the IT profession currently pay best, with the obvious intention of steering their careers in that direction. Alas, by the time somebody gets to such a goal–assuming, for the sake of discussion that this may take from three to ten years–the composition of the IT market may very well have changed substantially, and yesterday’s leading niches may have turned into today’s ho-hum humdrum positions. The real evergreens are few and far between, and can be difficult to spot (and to attain as well).
That’s why I always encourage people to follow their interests, and even their passions, when it comes to planning career development and growth paths. Just as the intrinsic interest (or lack thereof) in the work you do continues long after your most current raise or promotion ceases to register on your personal radar, so also does following your interests lead you in directions that you’re less likely to resist as time goes by and you find yourself in the middle or even into the closing phases of your working life.
When I was young, I was told to get a college degree, and possibly even several of them, because those degrees carry enduring value. “It doesn’t matter what you major in,” said my Dad, “You won’t be working in that area in 10 or 20 years anyway.” He was right. But some of the things that interested me then still interest me today, and by following them, and cultivating the skills and needed to turn them into paying professional skills continues to keep me gainfully and happily employed to this day. And those degrees I earned did indeed open doors for me that I might not have gotten through, even if those jobs I took on had nothing to do with my former field of study (anthropology).
In the blogs that follow, I hope you’ll keep this notion of following your interests or passions in mind as you explore various ways to pursue professional and technical development. You won’t be able to help developing as a person as well at the same time you’re developing a professional life and career. If you’re lucky, you’ll find ways to make the personal, the professional, and the technical converge. If there’s a sweet spot for career growth and development, that’s the spot you want to hit!