Source | LinkedIn : By Sam Schoelen
Many years ago I was faced with my first career path decision; Novell or Microsoft? Having no one to confide in and no real mentor to advise me, it was a dilemma that I agonized over for weeks before deciding on a path, honestly I just took a random guess between the two. At that time Novell was big and Microsoft was just getting a solid start, but I selected the Microsoft track and took a job working on upgrading a company to Microsoft NT 4.0.
Do you remember the NT 4.0 MCSE tests? I do because that was the first certifications I acquired. It was just released and I went right at it and back then it was a very difficult test. I then went on to achieve over a 100 of other certifications within the industry, including such vendors as; Cisco, Checkpoint, F5, Solaris and RedHat, just to name a few. To this day I still maintain the CISSP certificate, the rests have long since expired….
Due to what I learned through my early career predicament I always try to put my entry level engineers on a more guided career path. My goal is for them to succeed and outgrow their existing roles and in some cases even grow out of the company. I am pleased to report this approach has been extremely effective to date, many of the engineers who reported up to me have worked hard, studied and moved on to very successful careers. Personally, this gives me great satisfaction and suggests I have done my job to its fullest. Whether it be networking, security, systems, IP Telephony, or any other technology, I always try to follow these engineers through their career, staying in touch, collaborating and even advising when called upon to do so. My reward is knowing I did a good thing in pointing each induvial in the direction to achieve the most success.
So, fast forward to today and now what? What is the technology of the future, in what direction can I lead and direct the up-and-coming engineers? The intent of a career path is that it will last for years and as a technology manager advising young talented people, you have to know which technologies will still be evolving in the future. My theory used to be to expose the new hires to as many technologies as possible and just observe what they naturally gravitate to. As time passes, they would each have the opportunity to touch a multitude of technologies and equipment and as I continue to observe it always becomes obvious which area each has the most interests in. At some point it becomes as simple as giving them the tools to further learn and grow within that field.
Fast forward to the present, how will that work today? Can you really expect to expose an engineer to AWS, Azure, and a multitude of other technologies in the same way as we did in the past and expect the same results? With all the tools existing today, is this even possible? Obviously practices such as security, cloud and collaboration will continue to evolve and be future growth paths for years to come, but can I continue to foster these engineering paths the same way, will their progress be impeded? I suggest to my current engineering staff to focus on these disciplines in hope that they do so naturally and it is becomes easier for them to gravitate towards one or the other. I never force a discipline on an engineer in fear that this may be putting a square peg in a round hole and will eventually backfire on the career and the job at hand.
Recent trends have steered me to focus more toward AWS and Azure as technologies of the future for the engineers to concentrate on but it is becoming more complicated for an entry level engineers. There is a stronger basis of understanding that needs to happen before they can move into this new world focused on cloud and/or deep data security.