Investing In Your Career

  • Imagine this.. You work in a medium sized company, using MSSQL2005 and nothing else.

    They are very tight on budget, try to be productive, focused and specialised, unlike government orgs and banks where there's a great variety of things.

    I am sorry that you are totally wrong about bank and government.

    I used to work for a fortunate 500 bank, no one got any training. The pay and benefit was lousy. If you decided to go to school, you got $500 per year for reimbursement.

    Now I am working for government agent, that is even worse. We have to wait for government budget, grant and everything before we can do anything. We still use office 2003 and SQL Server 2000. If nothing breaks, why change?

    People working for the government have no motivation to change or learn anything new. I am very frustrated now at my position.:angry:

  • As a Consultant sense 82, If I did not keep up with training, I would not be employed today... I paid for 95% myself. All the $$$ I spent has been returned 20 times over and over and over ...

  • Interestingly enough I just had this conversation Wednesday with one of my bosses who just moved to my location. My take is that I am responsible for my professional development. I would hope that my employer would be willing to contribute to that as well, but if not I'll find a way to get what I need to know to stay current.

  • My stance is that everyone should own responsibility for training and career growth. It's definitely good, maybe even fair, for an employer to participate in that, but many employees do nothing because their employer isn't interested (or just doesn't have the money).

    Professional development comes in many forms; training classes, seminars, conferences, books, webinars, daily newsletters, hobby projects, and more. Classes are a tradeoff, you spend the most money but in return you get a very targetted and efficient learning experience, where on the other end of the scale with reading articles you can learn, but no hands on and reasonably random.

    Be willing to trade time for money and you can do a lot.

  • You never know what the future will hold so I think it pays to be diligent in advancing your own skills even if you can't put them into practice at your place of work. At my last job I constantly checked out new software and tools that I thought were interesting without the company paying for training. I would spend time on the weekends when the weather was bad or sometimes late at night trying out new tools and trying to further my existing skill sets even though I knew the company would not adopt many of them. This helped me immensely when I switched jobs and found my new company used many of the tools that I had been tinkering with on my own dime.

  • My current employer is very good at providing training(Which I haven't yet taken advantage of). I had always before did my own training out of pocket. I had previous employers that would pay on the condition that you stay for 3 years or the training costs had to be reimbursed. If you had certifications they'd hire you out at a higher rate but we saw no increase in salary. It didn't take long before people realized to quietly train up and leave. If your current employer won't pay for training then do it yourself and get reimbursed via new job at a higher salary. Since I made the choice about 6 or 7 years ago to take control of my career my salary has increased about 4x (I started real low).

    I know lots of people have a hate-on for MS Certs but i like doing them. They may not be thought provoking or representative of what I do on a daily basis but they provide me with a framework to study from. They're also relatively low cost, and easy to do even with a busy schedule.

    I've know too many people that have been comfortable at their job and never thought of training in something new. Layoffs come, then they realize that the world doesn't have much use for a Banyon Vines admin...

  • Investing in your own knowledge is a necessity, whether its time, money or both. Especially now, in times where so many people are out of work, the talent pool is huge, so you need to find a way to make yourself stand out in that crowd. If you are currently employed, your employer should be willing to invest some of the same, but I know that doesn't always happen.;-)

    As for a college degree, I can tell you that the last time I changed jobs (a year and a half ago), I applied to 4 companies and made it to the 'final round' with each of them.... and each one told me that if I hadn't had a bachelor's degree, IN ADDITION TO my > 10 years experience, I wouldn't have made it to the 2nd interview. There are so many experienced IT people out there today, and I've found that having that degree may just be the only difference between you and the other candidate. Is that right? Maybe, maybe not, for I know someone who was denied a job because she did not have a degree, although she had 7 years experience in the field for which they were hiring, but their company placed a very high value on higher education.

  • I do think that each of us is responsible for our own training and study (hopefully your company will help with the money for training and/or release time to study). With the economy the way it is, job security is a thing of the past. We need to keep current with our skill sets as a hedge against uncertain times. Also, I have changed my mindset recently to considering myself an "independent contractor" even though I am full-time employed by a company. This makes me continue to think in ways that are self beneficial when it comes to "finding the time to study".

  • I know a lot of people with Masters degrees who are out of work right now and I have worked alongside people with PHd's, MBA's and bachelors degrees all doing the same basic work. Having a higher educational degree tells an employer that you are dedicated to a certain extent but the work experience and how you present yourself to others are more important in my opinion. Getting a degree does not mean that you know how to apply the knowledge to actual business problems.

  • I say learn everything you can and if your company chips in all the better. If you expect others to look out for your best interests you will quickly drop into a dead end job.

    Given the old school attitude of "make them pay for it", it is nice to see some companies like Microsoft, Google, and others provide entry level or older versions of their software at little or not cost. SQL Express, Visual Studio Express, and Sketchup come to mind. This is especially surpising given that a considerable number of business needs can be met within the confines of what these programs can do.

    I am starting to believe Darwin's theories also apply to education. Those that want to rise to the top of their field (and thus survive) will figure out how to get the education and training needed to advance.

  • prescientdba (10/9/2009)

    Also, I have changed my mindset recently to considering myself an "independent contractor" even though I am full-time employed by a company. This makes me continue to think in ways that are self beneficial when it comes to "finding the time to study".

    Jon: Good point, this is the true reality of the situation, we are all contracters with our current employers. Using this frame of mind may help to identify and hopefully avoid situations where the job becomes more onerous than the paycheck we're receiving.

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    "stewsterl 80804 (10/16/2009)I guess when you stop and try to understand the solution provided you not only learn, but save yourself some headaches when you need to make any slight changes."

  • Kenneth - I agree with you - I wasn't implying that having that degree means anything other than you went to college. Believe me - I did my schooling part time, at night, while working full time (first as a programmer, then as a DBA, being on-call, etc).... it took me 10 years, but I finished it in '06.

    It just seems that in many cases, that piece of paper may be the only deciding factor that an employer has when choosing between equally qualified candidates.

    Personally, I'd much rather go with the experience, because you can't teach that stuff in a classroom. There's no better way to learn how to deal with a recovery situation than to be faced with it head on in your job.

  • Loner (10/9/2009)

    People working for the government have no motivation to change or learn anything new. I am very frustrated now at my position.:angry:

    This is so true and one of the reasons why I am never working for the government again. That and there is no way to work around the office politics.

    My personal stance is its fine if my employer does not want to pay for my training. That shows how much they value you as an individual. I will train myself for my next job.

  • I think it's mandatory to invest in your career. As a consultant I don't have the privilege of paid classes.

    The old school way was to purchase a 50$ 650 page monster training guide. Read the behemoth in your spare time and then take a certification exam; 100$. Possibly purchase a Transender exam if the material was new; another 100$. I personally like the Microsoft exams as they tend to keep me focused on a hard goal. (I'm just one of those people that need a hard goal.)

    Today we have the magic of online YouTube videos. Kick back, relax and watch an instructor walk you thru a demonstration. Although I still purchase the books.

    It's a seriously competitive job market out there, your going to need every advantage that you can afford yourself. I've seen too many good programers work for 30 years in the field just to get walked out the door and left in the dust. (It's no country for 65 year old COBOL programmers.)

    helpful video sharing site for SQL -->

    A nod is as good as a wink to a blind bat.

  • Hmmm, invest in my career? How about getting a rebate on the prior investments in my career?

    About five months ago I finally started cleaning out my basement of all the computer "stuff" I have gathered over the years. I had boxes and crates of manuals, books, PC boards, cables, awards and citations from classes I have taken through 30 years in the business - and ALL of it was outdated, discontinued, old and well useless. It took four station wagon loads to get it all to the dump and out of my life.

    Why was I saving old DOS, CPM, PICK, and Mac manuals? Why did I have about 10 2400 baud modems? What was I thinking keeping over 20 10Mbit network cards? And cables? I had about 300 miles of long since discontinued printer and network cables... And this is just some of the now-useless stuff I got rid of.

    Members of my staff come to me and ask me to sign-off on purchases of these biblical-size manuals coming out of Microsoft Press, Wrox, and others - I always okay the purchases - but after my recent purge I have started to have second thoughts. We all buy these expensive books with hundreds of pages and they are outdated usually within a year or two. All of us have probably attended at least one (if not many more) classes for systems and applications that have long since vanished.

    There has to be a better way. I am all for investing in a career - but in high tech, due to the rapid changes, I think there should be some sort of rebate late in one's career. You turn in all your useless books, hardware and what-nots - and you get a few dollars back per pound toward your entrance fee to the Techie Rest Home.

    There's no such thing as dumb questions, only poorly thought-out answers...

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