I recently received a wonderful, humbling e-mail from a fellow who’s given me permission to share his story. I hope, after reading this, that you’ll do your best to pass it on – even to your non-technical friends. It has a wonderful ending, but it’s a really important cautionary tale. Share this with your co-workers, your user group, your Tweeple, and even your Facebook friends. It’s a technology story, but the moral is much more broadly applicable.
Last May I went to TechEd NA in Houston for the first time. I’ve been an IT Pro for a little over 20 years, all for the same company.
I had dabbled in PowerShell a bit and had some VBScript experience but as much as it shames me to say, I was a “button monkey”. Next, Next, Finish. *sigh*
However at TechEd things changed. I saw your session on “Windows PowerShell Best Practices and Patterns: Time to Get Serious”, as well as the “Unplugged” with Jeffrey Snover and the DSC session. My eyes were opened! I came back to work and immediately bought your PowerShell and Tool making Month of Lunches books. I started following the forums on Powershell.org and listening to the podcasts. I was converted! I’ve upgraded most of our servers to 2012r2 and removed the GUI’s (to my co-worker’s dismay), and am on track to have the rest of our servers “headless” before I leave for Ignite this year.
All of that is just background to explain why I owe you such a huge debt of gratitude. In one of the Power Scripting podcasts you and Jason Helmick were talking about building home labs and taking responsibility for your own career. You said “You have to decide whether your career is your company or your career is IT.” That seems so obvious but for someone like myself who came up in the same company – my mind was BLOWN. I had to pause the podcast and let that sink in a bit! By the end of that conversation I had realized that I had been blinding myself to so much. I had looked at everything through the filter of “Does the company need this?”, and I had missed out on so many things and opportunities.
Now I’m 1/3 of the way to my first Microsoft Certification, I have a home lab (running DSC of course), and an up-to-date resume! Thanks to you!
Shortly after I had my revelation and started working on honing MY skills and MY marketability, the family-owned company that I’ve been working at for 20+ years was sold to an investment group. Suddenly the “family” mindset where it took a willfully stupid act to get fired has changed. I’m still at the same company and the same job but I’m documenting my accomplishments and gained skills (I have a KSA book now too). This has increased both my perceived value to my current employers but also my confidence that I can get another job if this one falters.
This is some true fact, folks. I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: Your career is your career, not your company’s. You should be focusing on the technologies and techniques that you know are important to the industry, whether your company needs you to, wants you to, or pays for you to or not. You never know when your job – whether you love it or not – will suddenly cease to exist as you know it. In this case, the story isn’t dire – nobody lost a job – but at least this person has the professionalism to make sure he’s covered in the event he no longer wants to work for his current employer.
This industry is your career, not necessarily your current job. Make sure you’re learning what your career needs you to.