Monday, November 9, 2009

Advance your career over lunch

One of the online forums I frequent had a question today about what web resources engineers can use to advance their careers. Now don't get me wrong, learning from the web is all well and good. However, you'll learn far more in a given time from interacting with people than with a web page, simply because you can have a two-way conversation. Just about every time I've asked a friend or coworker for technical help, I've come away with information that I'd never thought to ask for directly.

Here's some ways you can work on your career advancement and learn at the same time:
  • Take every opportunity to learn from people with experience that you'd like to have - while being respectful of their time, of course. Even the busiest people are generally flattered to be asked and happy to talk about what they're working on; sharing coffee, lunch or beer with them doesn't hurt either !
  • Talk to everyone in your organization who you either work with directly, or whose job interests you. For example, you might want to move on from testing into development, operations, project management or many other related fields.
  • Attend conferences to meet up with your peers. Getting the budget to attend can be hard these days, but there are plenty of free opportunities around; have a look for local events at, for example. If you feel up to it, presenting at a conference or meetup is a great way to expand your network and gain valuable presenting experience.
Last but not least, the more people you engage with, the more you'll be giving an impression of yourself as someone who already has a particular set of skills, but is also smart and eager to learn. That certainly won't hurt your career development !

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