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My Kids Think Graduation Is The End. . .I Don’t Have The Heart To Tell Them The Truth

May 20, 2015

I was set. I’d found, if not my dream job, at least the last job I thought I’d ever have. I went to work for a large non-profit in Utah. It was a good job, a great company, wonderful coworkers. And they had a pension. 1.5% per year worked. So, if I put in 20 years, I’d retire with 30% of my generous salary. 

Yep, I was set. 

And then they announced layoffs. 

If you are in the IT industry you will switch jobs, possibly a lot. It’s one of the truths that everyone knows. It’s why we in the tech sector have so many certifications. Well, indirectly. The technology changes so quickly that we needed a way to show a prospective employer that you have a basic understanding of your area of expertise. 

Plus, engineers don’t get out much. It’s fun to go to training for a week in an exciting location like Vegas or Detroit. (Maybe one more than the other.) 

So, the layoffs hit and I should have been fine, right? I was an IT professional with published works, a history of success at multiple companies, and I was in a tech rich part of the country. 

I spent 13 months looking for work. 

So, what happened? 

I let my certificates slip. I was at that non-profit for about five years. Long enough for world of technology to turn over at least twice. I was on the wrong side of 40 and the only certifications I had were at least 5 and more like 10 years old. At first, I was in denial. Sure, the search was taking longer than I thought it should, but it would turn out okay. And then the weeks turned into months. 

Eventually, I had to face the fact that the “me” that I was presenting online wasn’t good enough. I needed to upgrade my image. I was a project manager, so the Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification was a natural one to pursue. 

I got my PMP in January, I got a job offer as a project manager in March. 

I’m not making the same mistake twice. In the past year I’ve completed 

  • CompTIA A+ – A computer hardware certification
  • CompTia Network+ – A computer networking certification, not surprisingly
  • ToastMasters Competant Communicator Silver – An award for giving speeches

I’m currently working on CompTia Security+, an information security certification, and Toastmaster’s Competent Communicator Gold.. I also have on my list to be a certified trainer for Influencer, a business course on gaining and using influence. I also intend to get Certified Scrum Master, a certification for Agile program development, and Six Sigma Black Belt, a process improvement certification. 

And it will continue. Ironically, when I took the PMP course, I didn’t really learn that much. I learned some vocabulary, but I already understood how to be a project manager. But, none of that knowledge is important if I can’t get into an interview to demonstrate it. 

I see the same thing happening with smart people in my life. My mother went back to school twice as an adult. Once to become a CPA and later to become a Licensed Financial Planner. Bill Gates was famous for taking a month off to go learn some new thing about biology, or third world diseases, or something. 

The school year is coming to an end. My kids are excited to be “done.” They don’t really understand that you are never done. 

I like my  job. I really do. But, it’s a computer job, meaning that the job or I am going to change at some point. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. 

What are you working on? 

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 grandchildren. 

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(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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