We can all get in a rut after years in this industry. We get comfortable doing what we know. The problem is that technology does not stand still. If we don’t keep reinventing ourselves then we will eventually find that we don’t have the skills that the industry requires. This is so important an issue that I often ask prospective employment candidates how they keep up with technology. So what is my answer to rejuvenate your career?
Because I spend most of my time developing solutions for the Microsoft technology stack my examples will be bent more in that direction, but the basics stay the same regardless of the technology. The the keys for me are to keep informed, pilot, get certified and teach.
Keeping informed in this day has a lot of possible avenues. Podcasts, blogs, Twitter and dedicated web sites give you a variety of sources to keep up with what is coming out. At first grab everything you can find and then scale your sources back to just the ones that give you the most information for the time you invest.
You also need to get your hands dirty. Pilot new technologies you are interested in or see as affecting the future for your company. In the Microsoft arena there you can now get Visual Studio 2015 for free and the developer license for mobile development is a one time fee. The greatly reduces the barrier to experimenting with the latest technologies.
The next thing I would suggest is go and get certified. This isn’t so that you have the piece of paper. To me certs are near worthless in their own right. What they will do is expose you to the deepest, darkest portions of a product. This will give you an understanding level that will give you a leg up on those around you.
The last component is to teach. This is some times the first thing I do, but first or last it is a great exercise. Whether you blog, produce your own podcast or speak at industry events, you need to know your subject to talk about it. You will find out how true it is that the teacher always learns at least as much as the student.
Don’t get me wrong. It is ok to coast some times. As a matter of fact you can burn out if you are constantly in a mode of drinking from the fire hose. Just make sure you do some of these things on a regular basis to keep your skill viable. It will greatly improve your longevity and your value.