Ok. This post isn’t stricly aligned with BlogIdol Topic 1, but its close enough because the title uses the same words
Fogive me if I don’t go all the way back to when I was a boy wanting to be a fireman…..I’ll start the story after I graduated from engineering. After all, that’s when your career starts, isn’t it (asuuming you went to university at all)? As an aside, can you actually have an IT career these days without going to university or college first?
Anyway, my career started right after university (no hitchhiking around Europe for me – I was keen to engineer something/anything) but I didn’t really choose where I landed, because that would have assumed I had multiple jobs to choose from (which I didn’t). So, once you get your first job you have what might be called a career, but that’s when the fun begins – now you have to make career choices. Is this where the phrase “random walk down the career path” fits?
And what might those choices be, you ask? Well, one of the first might be how long to stay at this first job before moving on. I’ve known a few people my age who stayed at one company for their whole career (they are now retired with a nice pension), but they say most engineers don’t stay on their first job more than a couple of years. Then there’s a fork in the road – do you want to head towards management, or stay as technical as you can. For me, I tried to keep my options open and keep one foot on each path (and funnily enough it was often painful).
For some, leaning towards management means going back to school for an MBA. For the rest of us, there are a large number of technical certification choices to keep you busy. I’ve seen people with lots of letters after their name! Chasing certifications can be a lifelong endeavour (passion??). In any case, an IT career requires continuous learning, and since you cannot know everything, some level of specialization. I have come to the conclusion, after many years, that the more you know and the more varied your experience, the more you look like a generalist. And that may not always be the right career choice!!
Somewhere down the path, whichever one you choose, you will starting asking “why am I still here?” and that’s often a really tough question. Other posts on BlogIdol say “passion for technology”, some would also say “intellectual challenge” or “constant change” while still others might say “its just for the money”. Perhaps its a little bit of all those things. Maybe its also the feeling of being in some sort of exclusive club – no one else knows what you do, and you won’t (or can’t) explain it in layman’s terms. The good thing about an IT career is that there are so many different IT thngs you can do that it could seem like a career change even if its still IT.
So, are your career choices based on a 5 year plan or are they mostly opportunistic – jumping at an opportunity when it presents itself? I would say that today, more than ever before, a roadmap for your career can be a big help in answering the question of why am I here still. Your experiences may differ, what was your career path like?