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Back To School

January 20, 2015

Milan stared at the screen and wearily clicked NEXT. One more online class. This one was about network applications. He had three more sections to complete tonight.

I didn’t choose to go into computers, into IT. IT picked me. (Back Where It All Began) I always seemed to move from one job to the next, WordPerfect, Microsoft, consulting. But, I have to admit there was no grand plan.

The problem I ran into was the training. I guess every job has it, but computers and networks change so fast that like trying to go up the down escalator, if you are not constantly learning, constantly trying to get ahead, you are falling behind.

During the time I spent working for a large non-profit, I assumed I had found my last job. The company was incredibly stable. They had a pension, they were so old school. I focused on the job and didn’t worry about certifications or keeping up on the latest technology.

Getting laid off was a surprise. And I realized that I’d stood still on the escalator. I was several steps back of my peers and no competitors for the job openings. For the first time in a long time, I started to focus on my career. I did three things to try to catch up.

First, I started to read. While I love business books, I also started reading blogs. I started to try to identify technology leaders and follow them. I started to research technologies, security and servers.

Second, I started to write. It was during this period that I started this blog. I wrote every chance I got. I wrote research papers. I wrote white papers just because I had an interest. And writing led to more reading.

Third and finally, I looked at the certifications that existed in my field. I identified three and put them in priority order:

Project Manager Professional (PMP)
Six Sigma Black Belt
Certified Scrum Master

I started one the first one. I had the experience but I took a class to help me with the exam. After two months and a lot of coursework, I sat for and passed the exam. Next, I looked at the Six Sigma certification. I was just starting it when I went to work for my current company.

Over the coming year, I have several goals related to work. I still plan to get the Six Sigma. I also plan to write for more places. I’ll also be turning some of the better blog entries into a longer format. And of course, I continue to read voraciously.

I don’t think IT is that unique. My brother is a CPA. He goes to school every year to learn the new tax laws. He’s becoming an expert on the Affordable Care Act since it will impact taxes so much.

Never think you are done learning.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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