Strengthening your Career

I often see people new in IT, asking for advice of where to focus on, what tools to use, how did you get started, extra. Of course this industry moves way too fast for most of any one specific thing to stay relevant beyond casual conversation, but there are a few generalities that help at all levels of your career.

Curiosity and Communication are often listed as primary strengths to kindle. Building self learning habits goes a long way to keeping up, as formalized education is just the starting point.

Share what you work on and explore, at least where it doesn’t interfere with any NDAs you are under. This can be on forums, communities, blog posts, and/or even static web pages(easier to secure 😉 I’ve done so for many years, and have had work and interesting opportunities come my way many times just from that sharing across all those venues. For example, I can be found in the Micro Focus community (basic skill test: find me there), sporadically on this and other blogs, I share some of my links, at conferences & user groups, and many other places all over. A fun thing that happens with such posting, is when your past posts answer your current question, i.e. you ask someone (colleague, vendor support, Google, etc..) a question and they come back with the answer you wrote years previously for a similar situation.

As this industry is constantly moving forward while building on the past, any of your shared learning, even of the basics, helps others understand. The more you are a part of others learning, the more good things will come your way.

As much of IT has a notable troubleshooting component, detective skills such as Critical Observation, Logical Reasoning, and Scientific Methodology all help making finding that simple root cause much easier to find.

A key tool for Observation is the ability to ‘see’ what is being communicated on the network through capturing the packets from and between systems. To that effect, maintain at least a basic packet capture & analysis proficiency. Even just knowing, when and how to grab a capture to get to someone who can better analyze it, puts you way ahead of those just guessing. WireShark is the big one to know, but be aware of the others. As an example, I have NirSoft‘s WhoIsConnectedSniffer running all the time by default just to maintain a situational awareness of the networks I am on. XArp and NetworkMiner are just another two I make regular use of.

So to grow and strengthen your skill sets and career

  • be curious,
  • read widely,
  • carefully explore,
  • and practice you communication skills by sharing what you learn.

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