If you were asked what your most recent career accomplishment was, could you come up with something that didn’t sound trite? You don’t need to accomplish something big every month with your career. That’s likely an impossible task even for the most motivated amongst us.
But you do want to be able to be able to think back over the last twelve months and come up with something that you’ve done to show that you aren’t drifting and that other than turning up at work every day, you’re actually making progress of some sort.
If you look back over the last twelve months and things seem to be bleeding into one another in terms of sameness, then you are at best drifting and at worst in an unhealthy rut. The good thing is that there are a couple of things you can do to get out of this patter.
Take a course
This one is fairly straightforward, especially with all the options including Pluralsight, Linda and Microsoft Virtual Academy. The world is full of self-training options for IT Professionals and Developers. Choose a course and take it. If you do that, you’ll have learned something. There’s an argument to be made that you should be taking a least one new course every month if you want to keep your career moving along. If you’re taking positive steps like that, you’ll definitely feel that you have some momentum in your career
Take an exam
Taking courses is great. Validating the knowledge that the course was trying to teach is even better. Most vendors have a large number of exams that allow you to validate your skills. If you want to externally prove that you’ve learned something, not just sat in front of a video watching someone speak, then take a exam associated with the course. It’s not only something that you can say that you’ve done, exams are often something that you can add to a resume.
Write up some blog posts on a technical problem
I’m a big believer in externally evidence of expertise beyond just your place of work. That is, if you’ve become an expert on a particular subject, that it shouldn’t just be the people that you work with that understand that you have that expertise. If you start writing some detailed blog posts about it, even in a location such as this one, then your reputation for understanding a problem will extend beyond your immediate workplace. You’ll have accomplished something, albeit minor, that allows you to show that you are expanding the domain of knowledge associated with your career.
Speak at a user group
Another important step you can take to burnish your expertise, and to get more widely known in your local community of experts, is to speak at a user group. Most technologies have small communities of users in each locality that meet on a semi-regular basis. Many of these communities are looking for new members. Before you speak at a user group, you should attend a few meetings to get a feel for the group itself. If you’re looking for a user group to join, check out meetup.org.
Speak at a conference
The next step up from speaking at a user group is to speak at a conference. Many user groups are associated with conferences that run once a year. It doesn’t need to be anything big like a TechMentor, Ignite, or IT/Dev Intersections. There are many smaller conferences such as Experts Live or DDD that provide you to speak to a larger audience than a user group without going all the way to conferences with an international reputation.
A variety of ways to maintain traction
These are just a couple of things that you can do to keep some momentum going with your career. The longer you are in the career, the more likely you are to feel that you are drifting. If you take positive steps and do something, you’ll get rid of that feeling and you’ll also feel that you’re making progress, making you happier and most likely making you a better employee.