10 tenets of working in IT – Tenet 2, Self-train

Introduction

It’s been six weeks since I last posted, although to be honest it feels like much longer. The reason for that is I’ve been very busy ‘skilling up’ on a couple of my hobbies, namely photography and video editing and have learnt an incredible amount in such a short time. I’ve taken my foot off the CCNP Security gas pedal to some degree to fit this in, but as I stated in my New Year’s resolution post here, I felt I owed it to myself this year to give myself more time for my other hobbies, outside of IT and networking in particular. So it’s certainly fitting that my first post back is about my 2nd tenet of working in IT, self-train.

Speculate to accumulate

I see all too often, people who are unwilling to take time out of their own schedule to train up, either in their professional field or in their private lives. I put this down to a number of reasons, listed in no particular order:

  1. Job dissatisfaction. If you don’t enjoy your job, why would you be motivated to spend time getting better at it? I get that point of view. Ironically, doing just that will quite often allow you to enjoy your job more, but at the very least gives you a better chance of changing roles to one you will enjoy
  2. The Google effect. It is all too easy these days to hit the Internet when you run in to a problem you can’t solve immediately. Google offers a wealth of useful information. I do think it’s a sad reflection of the times we live in, however, when Googling is the first thing that many people do, rather than attempting to tackle the issue themselves up front. If you can get an answer to the problem in two minutes, why spend a further 30 minutes reading up on the topic, even if it means filling in other holes in your knowledge? I see these quick fixes as sticky plasters. Sometimes, you need to get up to your elbows in open heart surgery to really understand how something works
  3. Lack of time. In my first post of this series, I gave a number of pointers around how to make more time in your life. If lack of time is the reason you most often cite as why you don’t keep your skills updated, then please take a read of that post and try out the various tips. This ties in with point 2 above. Free up more time, then fill it with productivity. Rinse and repeat, maintaining the balance as you go
  4. No desire. This is a tougher nut to crack. I’ve worked with people who were just happy carrying out their day to day roles and that’s fair enough if they are happy and aren’t causing other people more work. If you are one of those people but want to start increasing your knowledge, you need to find something that will help motivate you to get the ball rolling. Think of what the end goal is, and focus on achieving it, in smaller manageable chunks

Studying

Moving on to the studying itself, I tend to use a similar method to learn any particular topic. Firstly, I’ll watch any available videos that are good. YouTube and related sites offer a huge variety of videos on all sorts of topics offering training and amongst the crap are some very helpful ones. In conjunction with this, a good book can go a long way to helping me understand something. Finally, I consider myself lucky in that the things I like to study (networking, photography, video editing, electronics, etc.) all afford me one key aspect that makes the learning experience so much more valuable; hands on capabilities. You just can’t beat setting up a lab to test how OSPF redistribution works, import a couple of photos, tweak and blend them together or solder your own circuit board. The human brain absorbs more information when it’s doing the work itself. If you read some of my previous study\exam related posts, you’ll see I follow this same method time and time again.

Summary

Don’t expect for the training to land in your lap. I often hear people being resentful about having to spend their own time to get up to speed with skills required for their job roles. It’s time to get it through your head…you are in control of your own destiny. Get out there and find the information you need yourself. It not only speeds things up, but it is far more satisfying. Keep setting targets and measuring progress to keep the momentum going.

Till the next time.

Please let me know your thoughts!