I talk, and write, a lot about how important it is to think about your career. To feed your career. To keep your career foremost in your vision.
There comes a time when your career is doing pretty well, and you’re comfortable resting for a moment and enjoying what it’s brought you. There may also come a time when you’ve gotten pretty far along in your career, and you start to think, “what’s next?”
Let me propose something.
That might be a time to stop, and to turn around. Look behind you. Look at the other people who are perhaps newer to their career in your field. Take, for a moment, a break from looking forward in your career, and instead look back and see who you might be able to pull forward in their career.
This doesn’t have to be complicated. Perhaps it’s giving a junior tech an opportunity to do some senior-level work under your supervision. Maybe it’s offering some lunchtime learning classes to your team. Maybe it’s simply giving someone an opportunity to pull themselves up the ladder. Maybe it’s taking on a longer-term mentoring role with someone in the industry – doesn’t even need to be at your current job! Maybe it’s setting up a user group, or writing some blog articles, or recording some how-to videos.
Plenty of people helped you get to where you are. They gave you an education. They gave you advice. They gave you a chance. So what can you do, from your current position, to do the same for someone else?
And the answer here is never, “nothing.” I don’t care if you’re the most junior tech in the universe, you could still find a few hours in a month to volunteer at a local school, or a Boys & Girls Club, or somewhere else, to help with their computer program. Get kids interested in our field, give them an idea of what your job is like, and help them understand what they’ll need to learn to get where you are. You don’t need to be in some lofty position in your career in order to help someone else come along.
At the end of the day, we should all measure our success by the impact we’ve made on our world, and in our communities. That impact is the biggest when it comes in the form of legacy – the people you’ve helped, who’ll take your example and help others in turn, who’ll help others in turn, and so on.
Look around your office. Look around your neighborhood. Look around your town. Who could you help, right now, get a leg up in their IT career?