What do you do when your employer says no more training? What do you do when you know that your org should move to the cloud, or at least some discrete components? How do you stay current, and not stagnate? Can you do this within the org, or must you go outside to gain the skills you seek.
This is a huge quandary…
Or is it?
Not too long ago, I wrote about becoming stale in your skillsets, and how that becomes a career limiting scenario. The “Gotcha” in this situation is that often times, your employer doesn’t have the same emphasis on training as you do for your career. The employer may believe in getting you trained up, but you may feel as if that training is less than marketable or forward thinking. Or, even worse than that, the employer doesn’t feel that training is necessary. In their minds, you may be capable of doing the job you’ve been asked to do, and that the movement toward future technology is not mission critical. Or, for that matter, there’s no budget assigned for training.
These difficult scenarios are confusing, and difficult. How is one to deal with the disparity between what you want and what your employer wants?
The need for strategy in this case is truly critical. I don’t advocate the behavior of misleading the employer, but of course, we all have ourselves in mind, and what we can do to leverage our careers. Some people are satisfied with what they’re doing, and don’t long to keep their skills sharp, while others are like sharks, not living unless they’re moving forward. I consider myself to be among the latter group.
You can do your research into training that you’d be able to get for free. I know, for example, that Microsoft has much of its Azure training available online for no cost. Again, I don’t recommend boiling the ocean, but choosing what you do select strategically. Of course, knowing the course you wish to take, might force you to actually pay for the training you seek.
Certainly, a sandbox environment, or home-lab environment, wherein you can build up and tear down test platforms in which you provide yourself training in a self-training mode. Of course, getting certifications in that mode are somewhat difficult, as well as gaining access to the right tools to accomplish your training in the ways in which the vendor recommends.
I advocate doing research on a product category that would benefit the company in today’s environment, but can act as catalyst toward the movement to the cloud (should that be on the horizon. The most useful ramp in this case is likely Backup as a Service or DR as a service. So the research into new categories of backup, like Cohesity, Rubrik or Actifio where data management, location and data awareness are critical can assist the movement of the organization toward cloudy approaches. If you can effectively sell the benefits of your vision, then your star should rise in the eyes of management. Sometimes it may feel like you’re dragging the technology behind you, or that you’re pushing forward undesired tech toward your IT management, but the ethical fight of the good fight is well worth it. Often times, you can orchestrate a cost-free proof of concept on a product like these, to facilitate the research, and thus prove the benefit to the org, without significant outlay.
In this way, you can guide your organization toward the technologies that are most beneficial to them both solving today’s issues, and toward the end goal of a forward-thinking strategy. Some organizations are simply not conducive to this approach, which leads me to my next point.
Sometimes, the only way in which you can better your skills, or improve your salary/stature is without the relationship in your current organization. This is a very dynamic field, and movement from vendor to end customer to channel partner, has proven a fluid stream. If you find that you’re just not getting satisfaction for some reason within your IT org, you really should consider whether moving on is the right approach. This draconian approach is one that should be approached with caution, as the appearance of hopping from gig to gig can potentially be viewed by an employer as a negative. However, there are times when the only way to move upward is to move onward.