Improve Your Career. Do Something, Now.

 In TCM Post

For several years I had the idea for Tech Career Mentor, but I did not take action for one reason or another, or one excuse or another. It’s time I took the advice that I’ve been giving for years and did something NOW. This first article is my advice and mentoring for you, but also practicing my advice. Here goes.

Why Nick? Why Tech Career Mentor?
I have over 20 years professional experience in IT and even more before that in school and hobbies. My passion, however, is helping people. “Ikigai” is a Japanese word for “the reason for being” which is the intersection between “What I Love,” “What I’m Good At,” “What the World Needs,” and “What I can be Paid For.” Furthermore, the intersection between Profession, Mission, Vocation, and PASSION.

Mentoring is my Ikigai.

Please head over to the ABOUT page to read about why I am uniquely qualified to mentor you and your IT career and why you should listen to me!

Real Information You Can Use
My goal at TCM is to provide, REAL, USEFUL, ACTIONABLE information. Too many internet resources or books talk about being successful or tell you quickly what you should do but fall short of actually showing you. My mission is to leave you with the mentoring advice you can use to take action!

Great, but HOW Do You Get Started?!?!
Getting started is commonly the first question I’m asked by anyone, at any level, but especially those that are still in high school, college, or transitioning careers into Information Technology. My consistent answer and the most simple answer is:

To Improve your career: Do something, NOW!

That’s right. Stop the Waiting, Thinking, Dreaming, Guessing, and Fearing. Pick something easy to get you moving and get up right now and do it!

So what can you do? You are here on this site; the good news is that you already did something! You have recognized the need to improve, and you have researched and found information online and are trying. Congratulations! Incremental changes are as significant as the big, New Years Resolutions. If you want to start exercising, it’s as simple as getting out of your seat and going for a walk, today. Then tomorrow, go a little longer. The day after, a bit more.

I Get It, But How About An Example
Another great way to take your first step is to PLAN. Maybe you’ve heard the term “analysis paralysis.” I am not talking about over-analyzing every aspect of your life and agonizing over details to the point you freeze and take no action. The idea is to produce work no matter how small, not create more indecision. If you don’t have some plan, some idea of what you want to do, even a long-term goal, then you will struggle with most of your career and life decisions. So here’s something you can do. Grab a notebook, and let’s plan.

Write down every single thing that comes to mind about what you want in life. Everything. Every detail will guide you.

I want to be:

  • a developer
  • a systems administrator
  • a VMware expert
  • a CCIE
  • a DevOps engineer
  • a cloud architect
  • a caretaker at an aviary
  • financially independent
  • the owner of a Ferrari
  • independently wealthy
  • filthy rich!

(NOTE: I like to use spreadsheets for this exercise, but a pen and paper will work!)

Ok, great. Now you can visually see a list that defines your career interests. Make bullets under each of those sections and add a level of detail:

  • For “Developer” you might write: Windows, Linux, Python, JavaScript, PHP, Swift
  • For “Financially Independent” you write: Happy, cost of living, close to excellent hiking, be my own boss, passive income, nest egg

Refine Your Data
Here’s where my analytical mind allows me to prioritize, by assigning values to these data points. To each of the highest level items, assign an order starting with one, the most important. Then the same for each sub-item under that. If you choose to use a spreadsheet, you can sort on your values in various ways, “parsing” the data to prioritize your goals.

Excellent! If you took the time to follow my steps above, you have completed an outline of a career plan! It didn’t take long, it’s not complicated, and you can change it at any time. You have laid out what is important to you, and evaluated each. Now let’s think about how you can achieve those goals and objectives. Let’s say that you marked developer as your number one priority and Python as your language. So now write down how you can achieve the goal to earn a living as a Python expert.

Developer – high school classes, college degree, online training, certifications, hobby, freelance, full-time job experience

Complete Your Objectives
Now you have some specific pathways to meet your objectives. Mark each of these pathways with a Level Of Effort (LOE) (and then sort by the LOE column.) College degree takes four years of classes and studying and tens of thousands of dollars. That is a VERY high LOE. Online training can be free and only takes hours which is a much lower LOE. Now that you ranked your primary objectives in order of importance with tasks defining how you achieve each objective and level of effort (and maybe costs) you have an established plan of action.

So take this new plan of action, choose one of the low-cost, low-level-of-effort items and do that thing, right NOW. Come back and keep reading when you complete that task!

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