Advice for a long Tech Career

As I wind down a nearly four decade career working in technology, I’m asked what advice I have to create a long term tech career. These are some major categories to keep in mind.

Build a network

Be a good person, kind and helpful to others. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated regardless of how they treat you. You will build a large and strong network by being a person people want to deal with. Every job has and end date and you frequently don’t get to choose it. Being a good person will build a network in the business that can help you find your next opportunity.

Love your tech

Pick technologies that you like to work on and you will enjoy most of the trip.  Dig deep on the technology and spend some personal time each week developing your skills. If your tech vendor has a certification program check it out. These frequently provide a solid learning path and some industry recognition that you have some skills. But don’t be the person that looks down on or skirts doing the necessary grunt work. Take your turn and volunteer for the everyday work.

I don’t know is valid

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and say I don’t know.  Technology is both broad and deep, NO ONE knows everything, and no one expects this of you. But follow these situations up with researching and learning to fill in the gaps. Do your own research too and contribute to the question at hand. But get the help you need and admit when you don’t know.

Be ready to bail out on your tech

Be a continuous learner and be ready to change.  What you are doing today will eventually be irrelevant.  I’m expert in technologies that don’t exist anymore.  So be careful you don’t get tied to the slowly dying tech and get left behind.  Be on the lookout for when your chosen technology is on the way out and make your transition selecting some current and relevant technology you can learn. Many people get tied to a technology and end up doing the support until it is no longer needed and have no exit path when they get laid off.

Originally published 6/16/2022