Some of my recent blog posts have spurred people to share anecdotes about friends, co-workers, and others who “just don’t get it”.

Let me be clear -

If you don’t care about your career, neither do I (and nor your employer).

Who do I care about?

I care about the the admin who (not inclusive, but you get the idea):

  • Is frustrated by “status quo”
  • Wants to improve the flow of work
  • Cares more about getting things done than meeting arbitrary metrics
  • Talks to people in other parts of their organization - because they care about what it takes to make business happen.
  • Investigates new tools and patterns of operation
  • Has a home lab / makes sacrifices to stay on top of technology changes / pay their own way to conferences

That last point may rub a few people the wrong way. “But I’ve got x expense” or “my family duties won’t let me” are common refrains. If you care about your career and your employer is not investing in you, you need to make the effort (and sometimes expenditures). There are often free or low-cost, local tech events (thinks like DevOpsDays, SQL Saturdays, Code Camps). If they aren’t in your area, you might find them within easy travel distance. There are tons of online (free) options as well - Microsoft Virtual Academy, PowerShell Summit and ChefConf both have all their sessions online, and Ignite and Build have sessions on Channel 9.

When it come to making time, any change requires some sacrifice. Is it worth losing a few hours of sleep or time watching TV to build your skills and position yourself for a better job?

Who’s a lost cause?

Those who:

  • Like the “status quo”
  • Find things “good enough”
  • Obstruct change
  • Find excuses for avoiding learning
  • Would rather meet metrics than make the business successful

I don’t make this determination lightly. I want everyone who manages systems for a living to have a fulfilling, rewarding career. I’ve spent years evangelizing better ways to approach systems administration and even some of my closest co-workers wouldn’t be swayed.

Operational intensities and demand from business is increasing to a point where if you haven’t already begun to develop new skills and investigate the new technology and patterns emerging, you are done. For those folks, you’ll need to find a nice legacy environment and attach yourself to it. You’ll be at the whim of the organizations need to maintain that legacy system.

If you don’t want to be a lost cause, you can change - but YOU have to change.

If you don’t want to remain at the mercy of your employer and if you want to control your career, then the time to make that investment is NOW. Not tomorrow, not next quarter. Stop procrastinating and start learning.

Don’t ask, “Where can I start?” and wait for someone to provide THE ONE TRUE STARTING POINT. There are too many possiblities.

Pick something:

  • build your command line skills
  • learn an automation framework
  • investigate source control

Which one? It doesn’t matter, most of the skills and patterns are portable. Use your professional judgement - look around you at what your contempararies are using.