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Experience Without Experience - Experience Without Progress
been working in IT for sometime but I'm not making any progress. I'm
well paid but I'm not growing in terms of skills and knowledge. All I
do on a daily basis are mundane tasks I mastered years ago. Although I
have the interest, I'm worried. How will I cope in future?"
As one continually deals with IT career issues, this is a dilemma that is
highlighted often. Call it "Experience without experience", or
"Experience without progress". Which options are available to you?
Let's look at how to address the issues involved.
Interest is cheap. Effort
will cost you.
glad you realize that getting and having a job isn't enough. Are you
moving forward or standing still? Are you growing with purpose or moving
round in circles? Are you making a difference? What're you
it from you or from your environment? Okay, you're concerned. But is that enough? It's positive to
be concerned, but concern alone doesn't make the mark. Move up from
"positive concern" to "positive action". I don't mean to sound
harsh, but the wake-up call you need to hear and heed is "Interest
is cheap. Effort will cost you." Put that interest to work! Period!
End of story.
Identify the problem. If
you are not making progress, have you identified the cause? Do an honest assessment of the situation. Look beyond the
surface, go beyond the obvious. Don't focus on symptoms instead of the
cause. Is this simply an issue of a terrible work situation, or is it
about complacency? Being complacent about your career or depending on
others for your career growth is a sure career killer. Irrespective of the situation you're in, growing your career is
your responsibility, not that of your employer, trainer or career
counselor. To paraphrase Lee Iaocca, "in the Information Technology
field, if you stand still you will go backwards." Since your
expertise is your ticket to success why let others determine your
Start by realizing that
you don't have any choice but to be proactive in career matters. And if you're static and you find yourself regressing in a
backward situation, nobody should have to prompt you to get back on
track. Explore your options. Get out of your comfort zone and take
charge. Experience is not about number of years but quality. Experience
is about value.
As you spend time and years in Information
Technology are you deepening and enhancing your technical and soft
skills? What is your focus?
What is your career plan (http://www.jidaw.com/careerplan.html)?
Where are you? Where are you going? Which routes are you taking to get
to your destination? What's
the big picture? Are you maintaining the right balance between what you
do and where you're going? The journey and the destination are Siamese
you assess the situation, don't just think about yourself. What value
do you as a person and as an IT professional bring to the business? Is
your value more than your cost?
Assess your environment
Your environment plays a
big part in where you are and where you are going. How carefully have
you assessed your environment? Are you using opportunities available for
IT growth in your present company? Do you have such access? It is often
said that we are products of our environment. What manner of environment? What does your environment support?
An environment that promotes growth? Or a negative environment? What are
you becoming? What manner of influence? What manner of product? A
product that has value and attracts attention? Or a product that is
Are there other
opportunities for you in your organization? For example have you spoken to your manager, or your
Human Resources people? Or your lack of opportunity could be due to
unethical behaviour or simply negligence, on the part of those who
should know and act on your behalf.
You might have to wait
forever if you expect others to notice or understand your predicament.
Seize the initiative. If as you say your present job is a dead end,
examine the possibility of moving to a more appropriate job career-wise
within your organization. How creative are you in seeking better
opportunity within your present environment? For example, as a network
professional, why not be part of the team implementing the Wireless LANs
countrywide for your organization? Don't be afraid of taking less than you feel
you're worth as there is no substitute for real career growth
(knowledge, experience, exposure, attitude). Sometimes less is more,
especially if you have the big picture in mind. Your move might be
unconventional, but so what? Does that matter if a "step down" today
will benefit and "step up" your long-term career growth? What really
is your priority? Focus on substance - are immediate benefits more
important than your long-term goals?
also need to make sure the problem is not from you. Sometimes lack of
progress in the workplace can be addressed by developing the appropriate
soft skills such communications,
presentation, personal networking, leadership, teamwork, etc. When you
work with people, it's not just about your tech expertise but your
Be honest. Do you exhibit a
can-do Attitude? How seriously do you take your assignments? Sloppy or
focused? Make sure your progress is not being hampered by a perception
that you lack the appropriate soft skills. Nobody loves working with the
"techie from hell". Are you
more than just a techie? Do
you use your resourcefulness to benefit the business? Or are an
"I-couldn't-care-less" IT prima
donna? Your tech skills may be great
but how are you using your interpersonal skills?
Could your frustration be due to
a lack of communication skills? How well do you understand your
company's business and how IT fits in? "We look at the same thing,
but we don't all see the same thing." Work to understand the
organization's motivation. Nobody is in business to frustrate its
staff. Understanding affects the quality and impact of your soft skills.
Professionalism requires consideration and courage. Your understanding
of what drives the business and people you work and interact with is key
to being a leader and an effective communicator. What is your
interaction with your colleagues like? How effectively can you
contribute to a business or to people you don't understand? Sincere
understanding and commitment creates a positive influence on your
organizations and people you work with.
To most organizations such a
commitment to soft skills and personal effectiveness indicates
initiative and foresight. It indicates a willingness to go the extra
mile and it often translates to "give me higher quality work and I
will move mountains".
If despite your genuine
efforts, you still believe you are in an environment that runs counter
to your values and aspirations, you may have to take a look at IT career
opportunities outside your present organization. To be sure this is the
right move, be careful and professional. You must be convinced that this
move will improve your situation not just now but also in the long term.
Carelessness can be costly. It certainly is not in your interest to jump
from "frying pan to fire". Changing jobs is a risk. But take
calculated risks. Don't change jobs on a whim. Don't use a "meal
ticket" "money rules" mentality to change jobs. Again "less may
be more". A job change requires a thorough and deep assessment of your
current situation and the new opportunity.
Careful assessment is
essential to avoid job-hopping. Moving around too often or job-hopping
usually sends the wrong signals. In a competitive situation, having to
explain your jumping around puts you at a disadvantage. Clients and
employers look for people with signs of stability. Nobody wants
experience without commitment.
Furthermore when you
change jobs don't burn bridges you might need tomorrow. Despite any misgivings you might have, be professional in
handling exit issues. When you leave avoid being flippant with your
previous employers. Leave on a positive note. Positive departure always comes in handy as a future reference
and for building your
However, it's not only
by changing jobs that you create opportunities for growth. What're you
doing in the area of self-development? Self-development is key to growth
in information technology. Again you have to be proactive. Don't wait
until others are ready to invest in you. Invest in yourself! Examine
your self-development options. What are your priorities? Are you making
the extra effort required for self development? Create time for
self-development. Which options will move in the right direction? As an
IT professional, how well have you embraced lifelong learning? (http://www.jidaw.com/dinosaur1.html)
Keep current by reading and by doing. Consider setting up a home lab. Depending on your interests you could
learn how to manage and troubleshoot an in demand operating system, or build a personalized e-commerce system or develop
animation for an online game. In addition, use books, the Internet, IT
certification and training for self-development based on your career
focus. Although these tools are no substitute for experience,
self-development ensures you don't remain stagnant and with the right
focus you sharpen your tech advantage in the vast information technology
Volunteering is another option
open to you. It is however, often overlooked by many. Volunteer in your
spare time, while you still maintain your current job. Offer to do IT jobs for your Old school, religious body,
political party, social club, professional association, NGO, the
neighborhood center, or your community group. If you're a web
developer, what stops you from publishing a highly functional site for
your old school? Again pay shouldn't be the issue. Volunteering
creates avenues for you to gain not only quality experience, but also
valuable references. And don't underestimate the prospects for
The Right Perspective
Whichever route you decide to take, it's important that you keep the
right perspective. Don't lose interest or become complacent because of
the situation. Playing the blame game won't get you anywhere. Self
pity is wasteful and worthless. It's your future at stake. This is no
time for worrying, moaning or cursing your luck. You are responsible for your career
decisions. And you can do something about it. You are not helpless. Look
for the open doors around you. With
the right attitude you can improve your situation. Develop a positive
energy, can-do attitude. Develop what you have and make it work for you.
So can you walk the walk? Obviously the proactive approach I've
described requires time, focus and resilience. This can be hard if you've always operated in reactive mode.
Get out of your comfort zone. It beats slumbering and hoping for the
best. And I'm sure you know your career is worth the effort.
wish you all the best in your IT Career!
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com (http://www.jidaw.com)
Jidaw.com's mission is to help you build and sharpen your career focus. Time permitting, we would be glad to answer your career questions, but before sending email, please check the IT Career Resource Center first to see if perhaps your question or problem already appears there or can be solved using the resource center
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What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this article Here
Tolulope from Lagos says:
Thank you so much. This has given me my sense of direction. Nobody else helps with such questions.
DISRUPT THE STATUS QUO!
Ideas are not enough. You must be action oriented to improve your future.
Don't just think but act. You get results not only from thinking but from acting.
You have ideas. You want to achieve. You want opportunity.
But what are you still doing in your comfort zone? The comfort zone is a dangerous place.
"I wanted to", "I was going to" cannot put on a light bulb, not to talk of moving you forward.
Aren't you tired of hoping and criticizing? Stop defending status quo that locks you down.
GO on the offensive now with IT Education and Empowerment.
What is the use of ideas without action?
Start becoming the achiever you deserve to be.
MAKE SURE THERE IS NO STANDING ROOM FOR EXCUSES.