Learning, retiring and everything in between

Currently i am addicted to the various videos on you tube by Eli the Computer Guy
He has a brilliant ability to talk for up to 90 mins on a wide range of topics he has also worked in the US army, he has extensive experience from working in various companies,he has owned his own company and has done consulting. He frequently goes off topic but its still very interesting never the less.

He is one of the only people i have found who explains a lot of the non technical elements of our job in a very easy to understand format.

some examples pages are

Punctuality for Tech Professionals
Motivation as a Tech Professional
Money Mindset as a Tech Professional

You may have to listen for a while to find these absolute nuggets but they are there!

So i wanted a page dedicated to some of Eli's thoughts blended with some of my own. (obviously a lot of this advise is fairly specific to what i have learnt)

Motivation

  • If you have low motivation in a job think about your goals, what do you want to achieve?
  • If you have a Job which is quiet or you have little to do, make the most of it and use it to learn. (see Learning section for more info)
  • Can i look myself in the eye (at the end of the day) and think yes i have done everything i can?

Learning

  • There is an amazing amount of free information out there on Youtube and other sites which will help you learn. Try and make sure the learning is relevant to your daily job or a hobby so you put into practice what you have learnt.
  • Another useful page with free videos is https://thenewboston.com
  • The best decision i ever made around learning was to host and then create and build this site. It helped me learn a lot of skills which i could then transfer to my day job.
  • Small expenses such as buying books/creating a website can be invaluable as your progress your IT career
  • Work out a budget and align it with you what you want to achieve
  • You have 2 real resources time and money.
  • Be-aware qualifications normally have a time limit of usefulness i.e a ccna could be less important as cloud computing reduces the need for ccna in companies. If you get a qualification in Windows server 2012 how long will the OS be around for? With office 365 being used more and more are exchange qualifications as useful?
  • You also need to try and make sure any qualification you get is going to help you within a few months find a suitable job otherwise the qualification could quickly  become only useful to tart up a CV (which is not necessarily a bad thing if you need to build up your CV)
  • School has nothing to do with the real world, a good work ethic is vital (the further you get in your career the less University/A level/Gcse results are relevant, but you will always get technical tests at the interview)
  • Find a problem and fix it is the best way to learn i.e i want to create a website to make notes on technical things i am interested in.
  • Its an obvious point but remember but its impossible to know everything especially with the pace the IT industry is moving at. You can either be an expert in a few things or a jack off all trades by being good at a lot of things
  • You need to be constantly learning and adapting in the IT industry

Job hunting

  • Don't let rejection get to you , remember if 30 people apply for a job only 1 person will get it
  • Make sure you learn from each interview.
  • Don't lie on your CV
  • Remember most companies would rather have someone with reasonable tech skills and a strong willingness to learn rather than a superb skill set and a poor personality.
  • Update your CV and then put it in on CW jobs and monster,  use key words on your CV like Linux/Redhat/Mysql... then wait for a deluge of phone calls from recruiters! (note some big companies don't use recruitment agents so you may have to contact them directly)
  • If you don't have enough experience on your CV look at doing free work to build your experience (looks at non profits & charities in your area or go and speak to your local tech company)
  • Learn what skills are in demand by searching https://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/

Job interviews

  • Having a suitable CV will get you an interview. After that your CV and qualifications are left at the door. You will need to prove you are a hard worker, willing to learn in a face to face interview and then you will be given a technical test.
  • Prepare yourself so you can answer questions on what the company does
  • Ask to look around the building , you can learn a lot from seeing the working environment.
  • Think carefully before you start looking for jobs what pay/hours/benefits you want
  • Normally you have a phone interview before a face to face, do it from home and print out your CV, also have a technical crib sheet printed out with things like common ports, current Kernel/OS versions.... have all these sheets printed out laid out on a table for quick reference (just in case you have a memory blank or you need to talk about an area you are not confident in)
  • Research who is interviewing you , in 1 case i found the twitter account of an interviewer who was asking his feed what interview questions he should ask!
  • Prove you are willing to invest in yourself so a company can see you are ambitious (prove you are willing to learn read books, go on courses...) if they see zero investment in yourself  why would they invest in you?
  • The week before the interview do a dry run driving to the interview location so you know where you are going on the day.
  • Aim to be at least an extra 15 mins early for every interview (in case anything happens i.e bad traffic). Turning up late is possible the worst first impression.

Finding a company

  • Don't be overly focused on money with time and hard work and a little luck you will get there
  • Sometimes taking a job that pays less but is a brilliant learning experience will in the long run be more beneficial then heading straight to the job which pays the most.
  • Think about why you want to move try and look beyond the money and benefits for example look at the culture, the working environment, the hours of work, your potential colleagues and how much you may learn.
  • Only move for a good reason i.e a 20% pay increase or a significant new job.
  • Make sure to think about the considerations of working further away from you home (Travel costs & extra travel expenses)
  • Be wary of the stability of startup companies

Big v Small companies

In general you will prefer one or the other

 Small CompaniesBig Companies
Who you nowYou now everyoneQuite often you will not know the name of someone sitting 2 desks away from you
Job securityRisk of being taken over & people being made redundant Generally good, if you are made redundant there will probable be other jobs within the company you can switch to.
BenefitsLimited although startups might entice you with offersGenerally better, share options and pay rises can be achieved
Working hoursLots of out of hours workwith 24-7 support around the globe you frequently leave on time
Job changeLimitedYou can get a decent career path
Speed of ChangePotentially very quickSlow
LearningGoodGood
Perksfruit, Fizzy drinks, occasional PizzaOffers from various companies, restaurants on site, free fruit

 

Impressing at a company

  • A lot of every tech job is about relationships work hard to get on with people
  • Be humble and be willing to learn
  • Show passion for what you do,
  • Don't complain or bitch about colleagues
  • Being a brilliant techie with poor personal skills will make your life harder. (some brilliant skilled people don't get as far as they should.)
  • Keep learning and evolving
  • Be selfish think what would happen if you fired tomorrow, always learn and develop yourself
  • Always keep busy , tell your boss what you are doing , send out emails monthly telling the rest of the team
  • When ever i start at a new company i look at working on the areas which have been neglected by others (i.e the wiki) this will make help make you useful > valuable and then invaluable to the company as you start proactively getting involved in more and more things.
  • Make yourself professional & world class

Staying at a company

  • Earlier in my career i was given the advise that every techie should be looking at changing job every 3 years. (1 year to learn the job & 2 years to do the job & learn new related skills after that you are unlikely to continue developing at the same rate). Early in your career it will also let you build your CV your skill set and your pay. (generally the best way to improve your pay is to move to a new company)
  • While i think that advise is generally good i would also add the caveat that at some point (if you find a perfect company to work for or if job security becomes more important) you should think strongly about settling down.
  • When you are at a company think of it in the context of building you career.
  • If you are happy at the company work your way up a company as much as you can until you hit a ceiling (at that point it might be worth thinking about moving company)
  • Constantly evolve,work on gaining more experience and knowledge and have an aim of what you are trying to achieve.

The Future

  • In retirement you may live for 30 years, why not see this as a second career?  make sure you educate yourself about money and finance and things such as bonds/shares/gilts