Each of us has a career. The one we want or the one thrust upon us. While it’s easy to blame circumstances, organizations, and other people, we are the author of our own story. If many people remain unaware of their decisive role, you can make a difference in reaching the next level at your job or towards the one you want.
5 ways to advance your IT career:
1. Draw a picture of your future. IT people are engineers by inclination. You have a tendency to graph and illustrate plans, so you might use those skills to picture the place you want to be at work and home. Forbes suggests, “Creating a career roadmap will provide you with this plan and a foundation to help you advance your career.” You can project a timeline with increments of five years or so during which you might ramp up your experience, income, and potential. But, without a map, you don’t have the means to measure your progress.
2. Define the success you want. Success means different things to different people. It can mean money, comfort, possessions, or more. It might mean personal security or advanced education for the children. It can mean a yearly vacation and/or a comfortable retirement. Or, it can mean fine home or a prestigious car. It can be material or immaterial goals, but you must define it if you are to know it when you see it.
3. Build and maximize your network. IT people deal with networks daily. They understand transmission and connectivity, and they work with blockage and downtime too often. That’s a mindset you might exploit in social and career connections. From day one in your education and business, you should assemble a group of likeminded like-experienced people with whom you can build trust and share information about your skill and organization. The network would include family, friends, co-workers, and similarly-employed IT workers.
4. Optimize input and feedback. That same network is a source of input and feedback about things personal and professional. You must find ways to engage with them regularly about changes in the IT fields and in the career opportunities that might interest you. You strengthen your network by sharing mutual interests and taking pleasure in the advance of others.
5. Project manage your future. Much of your future is defined by time, so it helps if you manage it like a project. With clearly listed and defined tasks, you can move the project forward. For example, you might exhaust the training and education sponsored or subsidized by your employer. Time suggests taking a course; “Take stock of your progress and contributions at work at least twice a year and use the benefits your company offers — tuition reimbursement, sponsored workshops, etc. — to invest in your future and improve yourself.” For example, certifications in IT programs are offered at http://www.itpro.tv.
Reaching the next level
Writing for Fortune, Katherine Lewis says, “Young professionals must create their own career paths by seeking out opportunities to develop skills and experience, networking with the right people and plotting each turning point along the road.” So, even when the organization’s career paths are not clear, you can make your way.