If you could do something that would dramatically improve your job prospects in the event you leave your current employer, would you be interested? What if you could boost the value you deliver to your existing employer, and perhaps get assigned to that cool new project you heard about, would you be interested? Read on to see how you can use personal Continuous Improvement to boost your career…
A popular acronym in the software development world is CI – Continuous Integration – in reference to the practice of performing automated build and test every time someone makes a change to the software. But CI also stands for Continuous Improvement, an attitude that one never stops learning. It’s a constant pursuit of better ways to do things, of new skills to learn. The Software Craftsmanship movement has as its foundation the notion of continuous improvement.
Change is Constant
As we all know, information technology evolves at breakneck speed, effectively reinventing itself every three to five years. If we are to maintain pace with this revolutionary change, we need to keep learning, trying new technologies, and new languages. We need to have that sense of curiosity, of wonderment, of thinking “what if we did this…” and “what’s this “X” all about?”.
And if you don’t? Well, some may be able to stay with their current employer and effectively cruise to retirement. I’ve seen this work for some people. But then what happens if you are laid off, or otherwise need to leave your present employer? Your skills have probably stagnated, and become out of date. Your only hope is for a company to hire you who has a similar technology stack and development methodology. On the other hand, if your skills are in low demand out there in the marketplace, you’re in a world of hurt.
Boldly Go Forward
Take charge of your career development. Make yourself the one who gets you the skills and training you need. This is going to mean paying some costs out of your own pocket; however, you may be able to get some tax breaks here – speak with your tax accountant. Attend conferences, either local or out of town. Join your local Java Users Group or Meetup Group. All of this is an investment in yourself that pays off in many ways, not just monetary.
Mentor others in your newly-learned skills. Talk to your boss and offer to run a lunch-and-learn session. Look for opportunities to pair with a colleague to help solve a stubborn problem. Begin taking a leadership role when circumstances permit. Practice your own Continuous Improvement to boost your career and those of your colleagues. The personal satisfaction you get from sharing your knowledge with others is pretty cool.