K-12 School Computer Networking/Chapter 23

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Career Strategies: Bridging to Your Future

Bridge Picture[[1]]

Introduction

Your career progression will most likely be determined by you. So to begin, think about your professional, educational and extracurricular backgrounds in terms of how they relate to a career education technology. The purpose of this exercise is to understand what you have to offer and where you are coming from. This is needed to understand where you can go, in terms of your career.

Many technologists, and other professionals, go through their entire careers with little to no active ownership of their career progression. They do so at their own peril. Pity the person who does not know his or her professional value and how to market that value in a ever-changing job market. The education technologist, sitting in the seemingly secure world of education, should not be lulled into believing that just because she may be to only one in their school performing the critical tasks of technology management, she is in a secure position with little possibility of loses her job. It must be remembered that the tight budgets that education technologists suffer under can sometimes lead to loss of funding for their own positions. Unemployment may only be one rejected school budget vote away.

1. Taking charge of your career is important because: A: No job is secure B: I may want different challenges C: Who knows what will happen in the future D: School budgets are often not approved


Charting Your Course

So now think about these next questions, what is next for you? and what career moves are you contemplating? E.g., “ I am working towards becoming a Microsoft Certified Network Administrator.” Also what parts of technology and education technology, in particular, interest you? It is not only important to answer these questions, but also important to ask them. By asking them, you start to think about yourself as not someone who is just in a current position into perpetuity, but rather as someone who is at a career stop on the track that could possibly lead to other opportunities. This type of thinking may rid you of the ignorant bliss of believing that you are safe in your position until retirement, but you gain the comfort that comes with taking charge of your career and having a 'plan B' in the event that you are forced to find another job.

So now that you been ‘primed’ for thinking about your career and beginning to take ownership of it, it is important to understand who you are and what you bring to the ‘table’. In essence, it will help us to understand what are your marketable skills and what type of situation you should be look for. Often professionals engage in a ‘reactive’ job search. This entails a lot of reacting the job market and the situations that they find themselves in. They wait for jobs to come to them. While in interviews, they wait to be asked questions and when offered a job they accept whatever terms are put forth by the potential employer. We want to shift your thinking to one of ‘proactively’ controlling your career, so that you are taking charge of your career and have as much control over your career as possible.

2. The difference between a proactive and reactive stance on your career is: A: Proactive is about sitting around and reactive is about taking charge B: Proactive is about taking charge and reactive is about sitting around C. Proactive makes you feel like you don’t have control, while reactive does D: Reactive is results in a great new job more than proactive


Assessment

This begins with assessment. There are four main areas of assessment: skills, style, values and interests. By determining yours, you will be able to chart your career direction better and evaluate potential future jobs more comprehensively. Let’s begin with skills; these are the things that you do on the job that add value. In short, they are the reason that you are needed in your job in the first place. The computer languages that you know and apply such as, C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic fall into this category. In looking at your skills, it is important to distinguish between all your skills and those that can directly be applied to future job opportunities. These skills are termed, ‘transferable skills’. An example of a transferable skill could be your ability to build comprehensive networking under tight budget constraints. This skill is one that other educational institutions would surely be interested in and could be a main reason why they would hire you. While skills are usually hard and fast and easily identifiable, style is more nebulous. By style, we are referring to your personality style—how you act, especially how you act in the work environment. Using personality preference measures such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a light version can be found at [2]), and working with a certified professional to interpret and discuss the results, you can understand your personality and what type of work environments, potential bosses and co-workers you would work best in. This can be invaluable as you seek out different employment opportunities and save you from taking a position that looked great in terms of skills need, but was lacking in style consistency for your personality preferences. Next, we should examine your values ([3](personal_and_cultural). Your values are a set of beliefs that guide your life and your interpretation of the world. Obviously, not understanding your values, and how they match up with certain job opportunities, could lead to you working in environs where there is a mismatched fit and could lead to poor performance. For instance, if you believe in a healthy lifestyle and clean air, it would not be the best fit for you to work in a tobacco company. While values seem obvious to us, they need to be assessed and compiled in a deliberate manner in order to make you cognizant of them and apply them to the career development process. Lastly, we need to define your interests in order to seek out the optimal job fit. Your interests are the areas of work and non-work that pique your curiosity, hold your attention and fill you with energy and vitality. By understanding what these interests are, we can seek to maximize them in our search for your next job. By doing so, we can increase the likelihood that you are engaged and happy in your next position.

3. The four main areas of assessment are: A: Skills, ability, experience and desire B: Ability, skills, tasks, computer languages C: Who you know, where you are from, how much you like your job, what is next for you D: Skills, style, values and interests


Establish Preliminary Goals

So now that you have standardized who you are personally and professionally, it is time to turn our attention to establishing preliminary goals. This is done most effectively by building a developmental action plan to ensure job pathing, goal setting and next steps. It is said that by writing things down, they are 80% more likely to occur. The idea is not that things magically happen when you write them down, but rather by doing so you are forming a plan and based on that plan you are more likely to pursue coordinated action. This plan can be created by the bottom up or top down, but for the sake of consistency let us go through a top down plan. It starts by using your assessment results to help determine what job positions you would like to achieve. For example, if you are a network administrator in your local elementary school, someone who is a ‘jack of all trades,’ you may be seeking out the ultimate goal of being the head of IT for the entire school district. With that goal in mind, we can now work backwards to reverse engineer the job paths to get there. Job paths, as one might guess, are the ways in which you move in your career to achieve your job goals. There are often numerous paths that can take you to the same job goal. In our example, the elementary school network administrator can take at least two general paths to achieve her goal of becoming head of all IT. The first would be to move into progressively larger generalist roles where she still is a ‘jack of all trades,” but the scope of her responsibility gets larger and larger until she is a place where she has amassed enough experiences to be a viable candidate for the head of IT position. The second general path would be for her to become a specialist. In this path she would seek out different positions in order to collect all the pieces of the puzzle in order to become a viable candidate for the top spot. In essence, she would be creating her own rotational program. Her roles might be made up of taking stints as a systems administrator, programmer, security specialist and IT strategist. Now that we have the main goals set and the job paths laid out, we can turn our attention towards next steps. This is how we will get there and it entails understanding and taking action around the job search skills of networking, and resume writing.

4. What are the two distinct paths to Head of IT, as cited in the example? A: There is only one path B: Generalist and specialist C: Systems and programming D: Politics and networking


Networking of a Different Kind

As an IT professional, you have a leg up on others in terms of understanding the concept of networking. By networking, I mean the human equivalent of computer networks. The initial goal of this type of networking build out is to create a seamless and ever-growing group of connected individuals who can assist you in progressing in your career. Remember that we now have our assessment and plan in hand, so it is time to put them into action by developing connections to your next opportunities. Your human professional networking is probably larger and will be of more assistance than you can imagine. People consistently underrate the power of working with those they already know to achieve their goals. So with that in mind, let us take a look at the network that is sitting right in front of your face, ready to help you get to where you want to go. In a spreadsheet or piece of paper, write out all of the people that you know, starting with those in the IT profession, continuing with other professionals that you know and ending with friends, family and non-professionals. Next to this list, make another column in which you write what each individual could help you with in terms of your job progression. Some common entries could be: “information, further people to network with, possible job opportunities-now or in the future.” Now form a third column and in it write what you would is the ultimate goal of networking with each person. For some it will be information that leads to me being more informed in interviews and for others it may be a certain type of job. These ultimate goals will help you to focus as you meet with these people to discuss your job progression. People are the most power way to get to you next position with 60-80% of people who get new positions reporting that networking was the way that they did it [4].

Tree Picture[[5]]


5. In terms of networking with people, individuals often: A: Think that they don’t have a network B: Believe that they have a robust network C: Think that they don’t have a robust network, when often they do D: Think that they have a robust network, when often they don’t


Resume Writing

Onto the dreaded resume and the painful resume creation process. The good news is that resume are not nearly as important as common wisdom suggests and not nearly as important as networking. The bad new is that you still need one, so to make the process as painless as possible, use a resume template from a site like www.Monster.com/Resume-Templates to see the proper format to follow. Then work with a career professional or a trusted colleague to craft the document. Working with others really helps you to bring out your best skills and accomplishment in the resume. That other person can act as a mirror to reflect your experiences back to you ensure your resume is as good as it can be. Another key point is to treat the resume as a marketing document, it is not intended to be all things to all people, so create an all-inclusive master resume from which you create customized versions to use for certain positions. Finally, once you have created a resume, put it away and go back to networking. Only bring it out after you have made a personal connection with people, thus ensuring that it is you and not your resume that is making the connection. Always remember that is people who get hired, not resumes.

6. Resumes should: A: Be your be all to end all document B: Seen as a marketing tool C: Put away once completed D: Choices B & C


Conclusion

By taking a deliberate approach to your career; by focusing on up front exploration and assessment and matching it up with the creation of multi-pathed plan with specific goals, you are insuring the highest likelihood of career satisfaction and success, on your terms. Instead of being reactive and letting your career happen to you, you can take charge and make your career happen for you.

7. Networking only involves computers? (T/F) 8. Resume writing is the most important part of career progression? (T/F) 9. Assessment consists of 3 main areas? (T/F) 10. Proactive is better than reactive? (T/F)

More information can be found at:

Vault.com Monster.com


Bolles, Richard Nelson, What Color is Your Parachute. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. 2008. Stair, Lila and Stair, Leslie, Careers in Computers, Third Edition, VGM Career Books, New York, 2001.

Material from The Eire Group, Careers in Finance Presentation, NYU 2004

Answer Key