One of the reasons why you may find yourself struggling with your career is that you have too many goals. So, I’m writing this article “pick a technology and master it” to help you achieve your goals more easily.
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of choices you have to make?
Perhaps, you’re married, you have 2 kids, you have a job, your spouse has a job, you spend quality time with your family every day and you want to become a better software developer or business analyst.
So, you sit down and write your career goals on a piece of paper based on actions you will take over the next 1 year. If you are a computer programmer or you want to transition to computer programmng, you may begin by asking “what is the best possible programming language I can master to become highly valued?“, and you will get a reply like:
1. Master C/C++ because C/C++ developers are very skilled at what they do.
2. Learn Java … it’s really easy to learn and there are ton of jobs for java developers.
3. Enroll in Oracle database classes because Oracle developers are paid big bucks, Oracle developers are hard to come by and Oracle is one of the most reliable and high performing databases available
4. Study PHP & MySQL programming because if you search the internet for PHP or MySQL projects you will find a ton of businesses wanting to outsource work to freelance developers
5. Ajax and Web 2.0 is the next big thing. So, find out everything you can about Ajax and put it on your resume.
6. Visual Basic .NET is so easy to learn … so, learn it and have it on your resume just like everyone else.
7. Go to school and get a 2 year associate degree in computer science because employers won’t hire you without a computer science degree. When you complete it, do back and get a 4-year computer science degree and after that make sure you get a masters degree in computer science because there are so many 4-year computer science graduates, you can’t get a job except if you stand out with a masters or PHD. in computer science.
And the list goes on and on.
For business analysts, some of the advice you will get will be:
1. Get a 4-year degree and then a masters in business and information systems
2. Master Rational tools by going for Rational training classes
3. Get an MBA
4. Study SQL, PL/SQL, Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, DB2…and the list of requirements goes on and on like an insatiable leech.
If you take this sort of advice at face-value or attempt to achieve these goals you will find that:
1. You have become a professional jack of all trades and master of none
2. Your resume lists too many technologies and not enough real-world projects utilizing those technologies
3. You will most likely flunk any serious technical interview because your expertise is too broad
4. Even when you get a job, you will be too scared or confused to do anything. You are going to be working with skilled, expert professionals and discover that your knowledge is too shallow to be of use to anyone. So, you start avoiding technical conversations with your colleagues.
5. You start shirking your duties, roles and responsibilities seeking to pass them on to other people, because you suspect that you don’t have enough skills and knowledge to get the job done.
So, where do you go from here?
If you find yourself in this position, do this:
1. Slow down, become humble, take just one technology and master it. Become an expert first before branching out or becoming a generalist.
2. Be on top of your game completely. Make sure that you are an expert at whatever technologies, skills and projects you’ve listed on your resume. When it’s interview time, make sure that the hand-writing on your forehead says “Subject Matter Expert“. Become so technically competent, that you can get a job with just one interview.
3. College is good. Real world expertise is better. Gain a lot of experience working with those few technologies you’ve mastered. If you are always learning, always in college, always studying, you will lack critical experience on how to solve real-world problems … skills which are almost never gained in college. Solving problems under pressure, with limited resources for business users is different from studying to pass a computer science examination, so don’t mix the two up.
When I started my tech career several years ago, I picked just one technology and became an expert at it over a year’s span and then slowly expanded my skills and experience by becoming experts in several closely related technologies. I did’t waste my time learning any skill, I wasn’t prepared to become an expert in.
My strategy worked very well for me. What about you, is your strategy working for you or are you ready to become a subject matter expert?