The year 2020 has been an interesting one to say the least. We’ve faced an unprecedented pandemic along with all of the challenges that have come with it. But we’ve also faced some of our own challenges in the industry this year. From preparing an entire workforce to work from home, to supporting any and every issue around the clock and helping our colleagues and coworkers navigate through these times.
With all of these changes though also comes new factors we encounter in our own day to day lives and routines. Some have adapted while others are still finding out how to adjust to these new times. But there is a shining light at the end of the tunnel in all of this – the holidays and 2021! Spending time with family and loved ones, and more importantly counting down to 2021. For some of us, this time will be a new beginning in preparing both personally and professionally in readjusting their goals and refocusing for the new year. So how can you outline your goals to align and structure them to fit your day-to-day routine? I’m going to share with you some tips that have helped me in prioritizing and can help you in preparing:
Set Target Goals and Dates
I dedicated all of 2020 to my two primary goals – becoming a Cisco Champion and CCNA certified. In setting these goals, I also set dates to achieve them by. This helps me significantly to keep me focused on my goals and on track, knowing exactly where I’m at in my progress. This is a great strategy to implement not only in your career development and work life but your personal life as well. It gives you such clear direction of what you want to achieve, where you are, and where your next move should be.
Study Plans and Certifications
With the new year should come huge growth! One way to achieve that in the IT industry is through certifications and advancement. Some incredible training courses and videos can be found out there to help you along. Now that you’ve found the material, it’s key to create a study plan based around your schedule and what works best for you. Everyone’s situation is always different and that’s ok. Some learn best at night once everythinghas calmed down, or if you’re like me, I’m up early at 5 am to get three or more hours of undisturbed studying in before work. I feel retain the info better then, and it helps me get my day started perfectly.
Now in addition to studying with so many resources available, I will forever be known for saying this. Investing in some actual equipment is such a supplementary way to accommodate your certification journey. If you’re looking for examples to begin your networking journey and you’re working on any Cisco certification, one great learning tool would be to invest into some switches, firewalls and routers – essentially a home lab. Networking gear is incredibly affordable and a ton of used gear you can find online in a lot of places that will allow you to create a home lab and apply those protocols and concepts. Again, everyone learns different and that’s fine. I’ve always felt that there’s no substitute for experience than on actual gear.
Breaking Into IT and Advancement
Finding your path in IT isn’t always the easiest. And for most people they’re faced with the same question we all once were – “Where do I begin?” To this day, I still reference this statement as it holds truer now than ever. The IT field has become just like the medical field – there’s so many niches and paths to enter into it’s insane. Whether you’re pushing the IT cart or managing the White House’s infrastructure, we’re lucky to live in these times. From Network/Systems Administration, Solutions Architect, Engineering and more, the path you choose will be decided by you but I have some great advice I’d love to share from my time in the industry.
If you’re just beginning in IT, you’re young, hungry, and passionate. That’s incredible! That’s why for anyone starting out, the IT Helpdesk is where you want to be. I know having that prestigious Network Administrator title is alluring. And once you’ve reset that 9,687th password, it’s not that glamorous after all. But like anything else, you need to have foundational and core skills to be successful in any role in the IT industry. From troubleshooting skills and resolving issues, customer facing interactions and more, this gives you an opportunity to not only absorb everything but to take it all in. Expose yourself to technologies you’ve never worked with and strengthen your skills overall. More importantly this also helps with professional development and helping you find a path you can be successful on in the future.
Now if you’re a seasoned pro, you’ve been around for quite a bit and you’re looking for that next climb. Training resources would be the best option to help you grow as well. Add more tools to your skill set in 2021! Distinguish yourself from everyone else, and give you the most distinct advantage in the market while also increasing your value to other employers. They’re looking for someone with passion and determination to further themselves over time. In applying yourself, you’ll be able to achieve that dream job and further your goals into a whole new level.
No matter what we achieve or strive for in the future, we can always be better versions of ourselves. Through patience, time, and focus, we can close one chapter and look ahead to the future. Now is the time to take 2021 full storm. Set a plan for ourselves and simply execute it to the fullest intent in being successful in our overall goals. I’m ready to achieve those next steps, are you? If so, I’ll see you at the top.