A few weeks ago, Richard Campbell posted a note on Twitter that he'd be talking to Kim Tripp about learning in the technology space for Runas Radio. Richard asked if there were any questions we'd like answered, and I replied with a question.
Kim responded via Twitter that afternoon.
And also on the Runas Radio show, which was recently posted. In the show, Richard and Kim discussed a good bit about the topic. They had a good talk around the topic (it's worth a listen and the show is not that long - about a half hour). They provide some great tips for working with your employer to get training.
Whose Responsibility Is It?
While I think that employers should invest in training their employees, I think Richard and Kim missed the intent of my question, either due to my failings as a communicator or a problem with the medium of communication. My intent was to identify who was ultimately responsible for ensuring that your skills as an employee progress.
It is the employee's responsibility to get training. The employer should help and make resources available, but it is your career, your life, your skills.
Regardless of what training opportunities are available at your company, you are in charge of your career. In order to protect your career or improve your position, you need to continually be learning. Whether it's video training, reading books, building a home lab, participating in open source, or going to conferences, you need to do something to maintain and improve your skills.
This Will Bite You
If you don't keep your skills current, this will come back to bite you when you look to change roles or move up in your organization.
If you want to increase your standing in your organization to a more managerial role, you need to build your "soft skills" and learn your business domain.
If you want to deepen your technical expertise, you need to dig deeper into your chosen area (not necessarily what you are currently working on) AND broaden your understanding of the surrounding technology landscape.
Why It Matters
I've recently had the opportunity to talk to a handful of people who work in very different environments than mine. Most have been in their current environments for 5 to 20 years. Most of those environments are stuck back in the Server 2003 era, with either XP or Windows 7 on the desktop. Most of those people haven't really looked at Server 2008 R2, which is already almost 5 years old. Server 2008 R2 is already two major versions back from the currently released OS. It only has one more year under mainstream support.
The pace of change is increasing. If your only experience is managing environments full of Server 2003 and you haven't keeping up on the changes in management or OS, good luck when you try to move to a role (either in your current org or somewhere else) that uses a newer platform, you'll be at a major disadvantage. There have been some major platform shifts from Server 2003 to Server 2008 and from Server 2008 R2 to 2012.
Don't Be Left Behind
I've been "fortunate" to be an early adopter, either through the old IT Pro Momentum program or via the Technology Adoption Programs (TAP), through most of my career. Even when I wasn't, I was playing with the newer platforms as soon as they were accessible. This prepared me to step in to roles that leveraged this newer technology more easily.
We are currently interviewing people for a couple of sysadmin focused roles at Stack Exchange.
Want more great reading? Check out my reading list!
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