A commitment to lifelong learning and growth is applicable to all aspects of life but maybe nowhere else is its need more apparent than in the technology field. The technology landscape changes quickly and sometimes violently, you have to be prepared and ready to adapt. If you are not willing to change and adapt your skill set and methodologies to match the needs of the enterprise you will likely start making the unenviable shift from innovator to boat anchor! Do not be a boat anchor.
- Find the innovators in the field and see what they are doing now.
- Attend user groups, round table discussions and conferences.
- Read books.
- Hack away! Try new things and see if they are applicable.
“There is just too much to learn!” - I hear this all the time as an excuse for why people don’t have some basic competency. Some technologies and tool sets are complex and can seem overwhelming, but that excuse is easily overcome buy just starting somewhere. Watch a Microsoft Virtual Academy session, buy a book and start hacking away. For example, Git is one of those tools with a pretty high barrier to entry due to most windows admins lack of familiarity with true source control. You just have to get started though. Read the documentation and make a git repository and then screw it up and then figure out how to unwind it all. You will certainly never learn to do it if you don’t take the first step. Also, it is a lot easier to continue learning in a subject if you love it and have fun doing it.
good working dev environment. How can you expect to learn beyond a snail’s pace if you do not have an environment that you can hack on without worrying about damaging something or having to adhere to change control? You need a lab environment to keep current on the tooling and infrastructure as well. You want to be testing and getting familiar with new releases of stuff as soon as you can. Get current so that you can stay current. If you fall too many iterations behind you can create a lot of unneeded labor burden to get your environment current again.
A good automation project to put on the backlog might be to create a method to spin up a lab in Azure for single purpose use. A disposable lab, what a world we live in! You can persist the lab if you want, be sure to turn off the VMs when they are not in use. It does not take much capital or equipment to spin up a fully functioning system center lab using some virtualization solution. But, for whatever reason if you cannot get this done with your employers equipment, build one at home on a single physical box. I love my lab.