Keeping Your Career Moving Forward

Dave Coover, Director of Training

What have you done lately to add some excitement to your IT career? People who are the most satisfied with their career often are usually those who work the hardest to keep it interesting. So how does one go about doing that?
First, set goals for yourself that challenge the status quo. Let’s face it, no one likes to be bored, so shake it up a little. Develop a long-term career plan that clearly identifies where you’d like to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. Next, define the steps that will be necessary to get there, and start accomplishing them. The best part is, this doesn’t have to be in isolation. Find a co-worker or supervisor to mentor you along the way. Not only will sharing your goals help get the word out that you have career ambitions, it will also broadcast your enthusiasm for the work that you do.
Search for ways to deepen your knowledge within your chosen career field. Seek out and take part in local IT user groups to increase the size and breadth of your professional network. Listen to the experts and bring back ideas that will make your company stronger. Volunteer to lead a user group meeting— you will be amazed how quickly you will be identified as an “expert,” whether you see yourself as one or not.
The annual AIM | Infotec Conference is another opportunity that you shouldn’t miss. At a minimum, register to attend this two-day mecca of breakout sessions, inspiring keynotes, and exhibits of the industry’s most contemporary technology hardware. Consider submitting a proposal for a breakout session to showcase an innovative technique that your company has deployed. Spend time networking with the exhibitors that are displaying the latest products, some of which are not yet on the market. Best of all, brush up on your tech trivia and take part in the luncheon quiz bowl—it’s a blast!
Not every company has a formal career ladder established, but don’t let that stop you. Ask your manager to help you create a long-term career advancement plan. If it involves formal education, inquire about corporate policies to help pay the tuition cost. Proactive companies will appreciate that you are looking for ways to add value to the organization. Consider applying to AIM’s IT Leadership Institute. Applications are taken every year in August, and approximately 35 individuals are selected to participate in the 9-month program that has been described as one of the best in the nation.
Finally, remember that a “job” and a “career” are two very different things. A career does not just happen by itself–it requires constant effort to keep it moving forward. Visit those other sites that have “jobs” in their name if you want, but look on AIM | Careerlink for events and opportunities that will help you turn your current job into a real career.