Grow Above the Crowd

I'll be candid with you. Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering if I’ll have a job tomorrow. In the past, I’ve left companies because I saw the change coming before it actually happened. Three companies I've worked for had layoffs right after I left, resulting in many scrambling to find new positions. Companies are no longer investing in their employees’ long-term potential. They assume people are no longer relevant rather than affording them opportunities to utilize their best assets or learn something new. Gone are the days of training and investing in people who have long-term knowledge about a variety of things. Today, companies are finding ways to automate their IT, moving to the cloud, and letting go of people to hire new, less experienced people to bring in the shiny new technologies.

"The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying."

- Isaac Asimov

I think we have all watched colleagues be walked out of the office with their possessions, seemingly unaware of the eventuality of that day. All too often, those workers had been pigeon-holed in dead-end roles long before their final day. Many fear the same fate, and try to observe their situations from that point of view. Am I doing something the workplace will value a year from now? Will my skill-sets still be relevant next year? Am I doing all that I can to stay current in my field? These are questions we should be asking. Questioning our standing amidst the industry enables us to assess our situation. It empowers us to set goals that push us to the front of the currents of an ever-changing market.

Ask yourself the following question: “Am I regularly learning valuable new industry skills?” Answer honestly. If you answered no, make today the day that you start! If you answered yes, pat yourself on the back, wipe off that smug grin, and read on. When I was in middle school, my dad was a prolific engineer in the field of light measurement. I remember him enrolling in college programming classes, which was surprising because he was so accomplished and managed many programmers. I learned from him that we cannot rest on the heels of our success, that we should always be looking for things to learn, and ways to improve. I set out to be a life-long learner, and it has served me well. Isaac Asimov once said, “The day you stop learning is the day you begin decaying.” I can only speak for myself here, but I do not want to be a crusty old neckbeard, set in my ways and lashing out against all things new.

So how do we do it? How do we stay relevant in today’s hyper-caffeinated, buzzword infused IT world? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a roadmap you could follow? I’d be the first to admit that I chose the right topics to learn less times than those that went nowhere. I would estimate that for every five technologies I’ve learned defensively, only one panned out. What if you could avoid making the same mistakes I and others have made in your learning path? I want to give you the path, and its shortcuts, to accelerate your career. Leverage your hard-earned knowledge for companies by adapting it to fit the principles of DevOps and cloud architecture. Transform microservices, container technologies, PAAS, serverless, and more from buzzwords, to paychecks.