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Continuing Education is Great. But, What If You Hated School?

April 3, 2018

Not sure why I do it. Why do I put myself through this? I didn’t even like school.

My lovely wife was a great student. We grew up 20 miles and 4 years apart in Western Washington. Her high school and mine were in the same school district. She graduated top of her class with a perfect 4.0. I graduated. It was only good ACT scores that got me into college. She went on a scholarship. She’s good at studying and school. I’m not.

So, why am I struggling through a Javascript class? I don’t need the class for my job. And now that I’m into it, I’m not even that interested in writing cool Javascript enabled web pages. I just want to finish the course.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve gone back and taken classes to get my CompTIA Network+, A+, and Security+ certifications. I tell myself they are to help my resume. And yet, I have a pretty impressive resume and the positions I would apply for, if I decided to leave my current job, which I love, don’t really need engineering skills.

I think some of it is fear. I’m one of those employees that is closer to the end, let’s call it closer to the middle, than I am to the beginning of my career. I work on a team with a bunch of business guys. They are all spreadsheets and percentages.

I’m the IT guy. When something breaks, I’m the guy that gets the call. Not because I can fix it, but because I can direct the people who do. That team, the team I kind of, sort of, direct is made up of young hungry IT guys. (There was a woman who is brilliant, but she’s on maternity leave. It really is all guys.)

No one really questions my credentials. I’ve been in the industry for 30 years. I worked for Microsoft for nearly 1/3 of that time. More importantly in this valley (Central Utah) I worked for WordPerfect Corporation for 5 years. I still regularly drive past the old WordPerfect buildings where I got my start.

My team typically shows me a lot of respect. In return, I don’t try to be what I’m not. I’m not explaining to any of the engineers how IP addressing works. Or how our DC’s manage to “serve up” the right Start Menu when agents authenticate against them. I’m fine letting the engineers be “the smartest guys in the room.” My role is to provide leadership and to interface with the client.

And yet. . .I used to be that guy. I used to be the world expert on a handful of technologies. I even wrote a book on Microsoft Exchange. But, IT is a ruthless business. Everything you know from a technical standpoint will be obsolete in about 18 months. And I think that’s why I do it. It doesn’t matter if I can code in Javascript. What matters is that I’m constantly learning. And my team, both up and down, can see that.

So, I’ll continue to pour over my electronic textbooks. I’ll take sample tests as I prepare for a certification exam for a technology I know I’ll never use.

But, that’s not the point. The point is to keep moving forward. Just trying to keep up with my team.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. The point is more merit badges, with certificates being just like merit badges. Which makes IT perfect for those of us with that Scouting mindset.
    Not that I’m the first to think of this
    Of course many IT conferences have had badge add-ons for certs with the game being how many can a person get such as

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