Yes, sometimes I go off Security topic to touch on other things that interest me, especially when I feel my experience can be of value to you. For a while now, I have had in the back of my mind that working in a strict silo’d org ( in a technology field ) is a recipe for career stagnation, but most of the big Fortune 500 operate in silos. I have worked for a few of the F500’s – and had to figure out how to thrive and grow in some tough cultures. Here are some ideas to empower you, based on my experience.
Yes – I fought hard against ‘silo-zation’ in my previous roles over the years – and grew. You can too.
One: Spend a portion of your time away from work learning new technology, consistently. I bought and used my own gear specifically for this purpose. I built out my own learning environment on various laptops with all of the software tools I needed, since Corporate Policies prohibited me from installing software on my work laptop, (rightfully so). I used purchased subscriptions (and leverage company subscriptions) to various online tech tutorial sites, Lynda.com, Safari.com and acloud.guru and others over the years. I engaged in lots of hands-on labs, programming exercises and listen to lessons again and again in the evenings. I still do!
Two: Go to local vendor or community sponsored Meet-ups around the city. Again, these usually happen after hours, but once in a while, I was able to convince my supervisor to let me go to ‘Security’ related seminars even though it was not about a product my team supported. These meetings were priceless – I would meet new people, make great connections and sit in on tech I would never get to see at work.
Three: Be Certification hungry. In 2017, I renewed my CCNP, achieved two AWS Certifications and renewed my GIAC GPEN. It sounds like a lot, but if spread out over a year it is not – that kind of effort just takes commitment + some time set aside each day to make progress toward goals. Learning. Never. Stops.
Everyone has their own opinion on Certifications, but I believe mine empowers.
A. Certifications are a GREAT learning tool. Most certifications have a solid syllabus to follow if you want to learn new tech with plenty of hands-on labs.
B. If I ever found myself without work through no fault of my own, I would rather have certifications, ( especially since I support others on my income ), to make me a more attractive candidate.
C. Certifications do not replace experience or the knowledge you get from troubleshooting real live problems.
Four: Work hard and persist to get on other projects outside of your space. Around the time I began in my prior role, I also had a serious interest in all things ‘Cloud’, so I invited myself to my previous company’s Cloud Design Meetings. Through active attendance, participation and a sincere desire to help, I ended up becoming official and being a go to for Security for that solution because I understood and could demo the technology.
Five: Lead the Lunch and Learns. One of the best ways to learn new tech is to teach it and demo it to others. I have done several self-initiated lunch and learns on tech outside of my space and it was fun! My invite list extended to people in other teams who also needed a breath of fresh tech air.
Six: Don’t be afraid to change jobs. Case in point – I recently left my last role, a tough choice, yes, but portion of that reason was due to the fact I was in a silo. Although many people have given me flack for switching jobs – I have found all my moves have empowered my career and led me to great opportunity.
Breaking away from supporting single technology and moving to having a deep diverse skill set that spans multiple disciplines is an incredible asset! It makes you more valuable, it makes you better at troubleshooting – and well… it just makes you feel darn good!
I encourage you to get out of that silo and seek roles where you can get your hands on all of the types of tech you desire! No one will manage your career better than you. Take charge – make it happen!