3 questions for IT Professionals

Photo Credit: Atilla2008 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Atilla2008 via Compfight cc

Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.

Tony Robbins

Working in the IT Industry for fifteen years has been very rewarding and challenging.  I have learned a lot about what is really important in a career and what isn’t as crucial as we might think.  I want to talk about three important questions for IT Professionals, What skills do you have? Where do you want to be? and Who is in your network?  Asking these three questions will help you set a course for where you can go in the future of your IT Career.

What skills do you have?  This question is crucial to understand and we must be honest with ourselves.  As IT Professionals we pride ourselves in being technically savvy, but we need take inventory of what technical skills we have and what other skills we might possess.  Before I became a Java developer I could see that skill was in demand and I didn’t have it so I began to research and read how I could get that skill.  At the time I knew C and C++, these languages have some similarities to Java so that helped me in the transition.

Technical skills are not all that is needed for a successful IT career.  Having worked in Sales prior to coming into IT I knew how important communication skills are to our success as well.  To enhance this skill I joined a Toastmasters club and it has helped me speak to groups and present new technologies at work.  I have worked with a few people that were technically strong but had poor communication skills and this hindered their career path.

Where do you want to be?  Is the job you have today where you want to be in five years?  Are there some new technologies that you would like to work on?  Most companies don’t want to pay you to play with new technologies, so if there is something you want to learn take some time to start.  Is there a local user group that you could learn some new things from?  Here is Des Moines we have lots of great user groups for Java, .Net, Quality Assurance, and many more.  These are great ways to learn new technical skills.

Perhaps you want to learn better communication skills you can always join a Toastmasters group.  I have been a member for a few years and it has raised my confidence in my speaking abilities and helped grow my network.  Do you want to be a leader?  I know a few people that have learned leadership skills from clubs they are in long before they got leadership opportunities in their professional life.  So find ways to reach your goals by learning and gaining new experiences outside of work.

Who is in your network?  Do you know how powerful your network is?  If you have not let them know where you want to go they can not help! So Ask.  Tell your friends and family, or the people you talk with at the coffee shop.  I learned this from a good friend and master networker Danny Beyer.  Also keep building your network, don’t wait until you really need help to start, it is usually to late.  Make sure you look at your network within your industry and place of work as well as in your community you live.  Perhaps there is someone you talk with at you kids hockey game that could help open some door’s for you.

These three questions will help you build the foundation to enhance your career.  I find it helpful to revisit these questions often too.  As our goals and aspirations can change periodically as we experience new things.

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