The SearchServerVirtualization.com Advisory Board was asked to give our views on what we do to stay current. This is a question that I get asked quite often. Here are my go to resources as well as resources others on the Advisory Board turn to.
If you are working in technology, you cannot be afraid of change! Your job right now will be completely different in 10 years. You may still work for the same company, but the technology will change dramatically. You will be left behind and possibly out of a job is you do not keep you skills fresh. Here is how I try to stay current.
Home lab: I have spent countless hours building, rebuilding, upgrading, and testing new technologies and software in my home lab. Without this flexible playground, based on virtualized servers, I would be lost. If you don’t have one, get one.
Conferences: You were probably told this as you were growing up, but it isn’t always what you know, it is who you know. From my experience, you do not build technical skills at conferences that you can take back and directly apply. For me, conferences are my opportunity to network with others. You and your peers may move between companies and will be great resources for new career opportunities.
Classroom training: After you have picked the right provider and level of training, then it is better to do offsite training, in my opinion. I have tried many times to do training online from the office. It never works. There will always be some distraction. If you can, go someplace so you can concentrate.
Certifications: Being in a technology field, you will probably change jobs more than once. Investing some time to obtain certifications should be a priority. They are a differentiator to other candidates with similar experience. If you can afford it, boot camps are also a way to focus on these certifications. They will not teach all the details you need for the technology, but they do help you laser focus on the tests. It’s still up to you to know how to do your job.
Quick list of resources:
- Software Subscriptions (MSDN)
- YouTube (Everything is there)
- Technet Virtual Labs
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Forums (Great to look at even when you don’t have problems)
- Certification Study Guides
- Community User Groups/Meetups (More Networking)