Earlier this year, MSDN Canada and the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) decided to try some different; a Webcast series designed to help developers manage their career and handle the increasing pace of change in the industry today. The title for this Webcast series is "Ignite Your Career" and so far, it's been a huge success.
My colleagues and I would like to thank everyone who have been attending our latest Webcast series entitled, "Ignite Your Career":
For those of you who haven't heard of this Webcast series, you've really been missing out. Here's a few highlights so far:
1. Becoming a Better Developer (New! Available On-Demand) - Speaker(s): Adam Cole, Scott Howlett, and Lance Mohring
It's a great time to be a developer in Canada. But with all the opportunities available to you, it's important to plan the path ahead. In this session, our panel of experts gives you an overview of the Canadian Developer landscape, shares their own experiences, highlights some of the many different paths you can take, and answers your questions about how to keep your career on track.
This Webcast featured a lively discussion about the things necessary to become a better developer. Some highlights include:
- Canada is doing very well. [...] Many companies are looking to hire in Canada as opposed to hiring overseas.
- To become a better developer, it's important to focus on your "soft skills" in addition to your technical skills. That is, having good business acumen.
- Don't try to meet all the requirements of job postings; the reality is that your passion and technical skills are what are most important. Don't be too discouraged by job postings in-general. Put yourself out there!
Do you have the right technical experience? Do you know what Development skills are in demand? Do you know the best way to build your résumé? In this session, our goal is to help you answer these questions. You'll learn tips on how to improve your competencies and represent your experience and skills in a way that helps people perceive the true value you offer. You will also gain a better understanding of what organizations are really looking for in a Developer's skill set.
During this Webcast, the panellists discussed ways for a developer to become a "hot commodity" and that social networking is a critical piece of being successful. Also, our panellists discusses how it's important for developers to discuss their passion for software development along with their technical skills; organizations want to know what you can bring "to the table" that will help their business grow.
Some "final thoughts" from Andrew Ford:
My final thoughts are around an analogy I used to use with my students. I told my students to equate an IT professional's skill set to a mechanics tools. If a mechanic answers an ad to work in a garage, the ad may specify 'must have own tools'. If the company he chooses to work for does not budget in the cost of maintaining those tools and upgrading them when new tools come out, then over time the mechanic's worth to the company is going to decrease. As his tools start to wear out, it will take him longer to complete the tasks he was hired for. In the end, he may find himself out of work with old and useless tools. With no time or money to invest in new.
As an IT professional the same can be said. An IT professional is hired because of the investment he has made in his skill set. He brings a value to the company. It is important that he keeps this in mind when negotiating his contract. Is the company willing to keep his skills up to date and invest in certification? If not, has he negotiated a contract that allows for his own investment of time and money to keep his skills up to date. It is too easy today to find yourself on the far side of a 3 – 5 year contract or employment with outdated skills. Your original investment 'used up' if you like, by the company you chose to work for. Many companies hire based on skills and certifications, it is a little hypocritical of them to then downplay the importance of certification or training as an excuse not to invest in an employee's training plan.
The same can probably be said for a number of occupations, but the speed of change within IT can make this a far more likely a scenario, in a much short period of time.
My two cents anyway.
Building a set of information sources and connecting to the development community at large are critical to a Developer's success. This session brings successful community, technology, and information leaders together to share their experiences in building this important set of skills. Our experts will help you learn how to identify credible sources and find the right tools, links and techniques to keep you up to date in a world of constant change.
This Webcast featured a discussion about ways in which developers can find their "trusted resources" in their community. A lot of discussion focused on blogging, especially ways in which developers can take part in the conversation online. Podcasting was also discussed. Richard Campbell (of .NET Rocks!) provided some valuable insights on podcasting in-general and how one should go about syndicating podcasts off the Web.
The topic of social networking through forums and user groups was also discussed.
Vincent Chiew provided us with a follow-up to the topic of blogging:
Sometimes It's Not Who You Know but Whose Blog You Read
People used to rely on a well-cultivated grapevine to hear news of hirings and firings while the information was still officially embargoed. But blogs have largely taken the place of water cooler chats. An example of their effectiveness is a Computer World article reporting that Intel had been keeping mum about its workforce reduction plans, not even sharing them with potentially affected employees--that is, until its intent to reduce its ranks by as much as 10 percent via a "redeployment" program was revealed by an anonymous blogger. The blog posting described Intel's layoff scheme in detail, down to the methods being used to assess employees' skills and decide who would be shown the door, forcing company brass to admit the layoffs were forthcoming.
4. Becoming Your Own Boss (New! Available On-Demand) - Speaker(s): Stephen Ibaraki, Derek Hatchard, Etienne Tremblay
It's becoming more common for a Developer to be identified as an Independent Developer Consultant or Contractor. Some have done this to grow their skills, others to have more control over their careers, and some are entrepreneurs who want to change the world with their vision. In this session, a panel of experts will help share their experiences as well as the joys and pains of being their own boss. Plus, the experts will answer some common questions you may have about making this shift in your career.
From Stephen Ibaraki:
I interviewed Guy who is a successful consultant, entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
He’s considered one of the first evangelists and was an Apple Fellow. It’s useful to catch his blog since it has timely thought pieces on how to be successful, and be an entrepreneur. The ideas apply whether you want to be your own boss or launch a new startup. He has also written a host of books that are worth reading such as the Art of the Start, and noted at www.garage.com, his VC company. His site has some tips on writing an effective executive summary and for selling an idea.
10 things you should know about launching an IT consultancy by Erik Eckel from July 28, 2006.
US-focused but the concepts apply here as well. For example when there’s talk about Federal Taxes think of GST, and state taxes, think PST. The final points are the most useful.
Crowdsourcing is when people gather via the Internet to create something and share in the profit – often without ever meeting each other in person. The products of these collaborations are referred to as crowdsourced.
For the entrepreneurial minded–a blog widely read by venture capitalists and other high-tech luminaries.
Getting into mass collaboration.
I wrote an article for Technet Magazine on tips on building a business plan that could be adapted to organizing your ideas when you want to be your own boss:
6 steps to being your own boss – MSN Money
http://blogs.technet.com/cdnitmanagers/: then search for Career Tips. There’s also interviews with leaders containing career tips.
These 2 blogs contain strategies or tactics for enhancing a person’s career that also has application when becoming your own boss.
Personal SWOT Analysis:
Eight Career Tips:
I have done interviews for about 20 years and some 300 since 2001 for CIPS. They can be found at www.cips.ca and then clicking on the News link. They can be found compiled together at:
Possible interviews to look at include these Entrepreneurial Developers: Miller, Sessions, Stonebraker, Klawe
Interviews with Entrepreneurs: Furdyk, Mayfield, Brody, Tapscott
Life lessons that have wide application…
Randy Pausch is a Carnegie Mellon University professor. He is the author of a programming language called “Alice” (http://www.alice.org/) and a research recipient of Microsoft Research funding on Game Development.
“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”
The book contains research on excellent companies and contains useful insights for those thinking of having their own business.
Michael Treacy and Fred Wierseman
“The Discipline of Market Leaders”
From Derek Hatchard:
Find things to read that make you think. Some good examples:
Eric Sink, http://software.ericsink.com/
Joel Spolsky, http://www.joelonsoftware.com/
Guy Kawasaki, http://blog.guykawasaki.com/
Seth Godin, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
Escape from Cubicle Nation (Pam Slim), http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com/get_a_life_blog/
The Innovator's Solution by Clayton Christensen
5. Creating Your Own Start-Up Business (Available Soon) - Speaker(s): Dick Hardt, Mark Relph, David Crow
Do you have a great idea that you believe will change the world? Wondering what it takes to start up a business? This session is hosted by a panel of Developers and IT professionals who have created their own startups and become successful entrepreneurs. Our experts will share personal startup insights and experiences, answer common questions and offer guidance for building the right startup path for you.