How you can boost your career in IT
November 17, 2021
First define what success is for you
Often forgotten by some professionals, the definition of success is subjective to each person. Even before moving on to the analysis of your goals, clearly define what a professional success scenario is for you, that is, what milestones you should experience to define yourself as a successful professional in your field. This reflection requires some time and is intended to be as personal as possible because different milestones and life goals achieved will be valued differently from person to person.
Stipulate your goals
After the first analysis, it is time to set goals. You can identify several goals in favour of the prosperous scenario we talked about above, but you should always try to keep it relevant and ask yourself about some details of each goal.
Among some models you can follow to conduct this analysis, we suggest the SMART model. This method is a way to achieve results, where the creation of goals will be a way to stimulate your users to produce more and better to reach your final objective. In its genesis, each letter represents an important point of analysis that, derived from English, is defined respectively as:
To be able to work on achieving a goal, you need to be as specific as possible. Without defining your goal, you are unlikely to meet the necessary conditions to create an effective action plan. Imagine that your goal is to program in a certain language. Although this is feasible, it is not specific enough. Now, compare this with a goal that is, for example, to reduce implementation times by 20%. In this scenario, not only you are being more objective, but you determine that this increase should be set at a given percentage.
When you set your goals, if you can't measure them, your purpose of achieving them will be ineffective if not unlikely to be achieved. Measuring results is part of the process and only then can you evaluate progress and, if necessary, make adjustments to the strategy. Using the previous example about reducing implementation times by 20%, with some analytics you will be able to measure if the hours effort and implementation constraints are decreasing, and if so, by how much. A percentage below 10% suggests that, although you are working in the right direction, you are still missing some progress. If, after evaluating the upgrade, implementation is being set up 18% faster, your goal is very close and in all likelihood the set of tools and strategies you have chosen are having an effect.
Just as important as being specific in your goals and measuring your progress, is setting attainable goals. Imagine that you program on a particular backend technology and in six months you want to be able to apply for a job as a Full Stack Developer. Although you are being specific in your goal, it may be a goal that will be difficult to achieve in such a short period of time. Eventually, you will have to learn one or two more backend languages, databases and a frontend language. You will also need to have some involvement with the most used frameworks in each language in order to master the skills needed to be a backend developer and make all your work more efficient. Doing all this in six months may compromise the viability of reaching your goal, since everything indicates that it will require a larger investment in terms of time.
Relevance will also be one of the main points to analyze when you commit to a goal. You should validate if this goal has relevance in your professional career. Remember that you are going to invest time and resources in something that you believe will make you a better professional. You should therefore make sure that it is sufficiently relevant and important before you move forward with this commitment. As a starting point, when you put a goal under consideration, ask yourself how, if you achieve it, what difference it will make in your life. Is it really important to achieve it?
T: Time based
When you identify your goal, you need to stipulate a period in which you will be focused on achieving it. Not committing to a target date will mean that your goal can be achieved in a day, a month or a year, which makes it unclear what you want and the time available until you succeed.
Putting the pieces together, your goal, according to the SMART method, could be something like, "I propose to reduce implementation times by 20% over 6 months to improve the efficiency of systems in production by simplifying code and eliminating bugs in the production environment."
Write down what you set out to do and visualize your goal
Once you have defined your goals, there is an exercise that can make your whole journey easier and help you achieve them. Write down what you set yourself and read it. You can write it in different places, in your diary, notebook, board or other places. Read it as many times as necessary. The objective of this exercise and according to the philosophy of Napoleon Hill - a well-known American writer in the field of personal development, who encourages us to focus our energies on our goals, turning problems into opportunities in our favour. In one of his best-known writings, Hill, in a summarized way, suggests that we should think about what we want to achieve with such strength and positive energy that our unconscious begins to work as if this scenario were already a reality. In this sense, we should think about what we want to become, or what we want to attract to us so that it becomes a reality on the physical plane.
Take a look at your evolution
We know that at first everything may seem complex and distant. Rome was not built in two days, nor is anything in life that is consistently created overnight. Every day you will become better and that will be the fuel for you to continue on your path. Whether on a semester, monthly, weekly or another basis, evaluating your evolution is a great exercise not only to give you an extra motivation but also to align your strategies and tools to keep up the good work.
Look for a mentor
A mentor can make your whole journey more efficient. You can look for someone who is in the technology field, possibly someone who has been through what you are experiencing now. Or you can have the mentorship of someone who is an expert in personal and professional development by your side. Having someone close to you and whom you can ask for an unbiased opinion will make your development more interesting and fruitful throughout the process.
History is marked by great discoveries and inventions. What if Graham Bell hadn't been curious and invented the telephone? What would it be if James Bowman Lindsay hadn't been curious and invented the light bulb? Or even Steve Jobs on how he saw personal computers. Curiosity and resilience moved all these creators. Curiosity will also take you to places you have never been, to experience something you have never lived, and above all, to answer questions that once had no solution.
Be a good listener
Knowing how to listen is one of the soft skills that, with little or no effort, can take you to another level. In our lives, we are surrounded by people from different areas, with different levels of experience and naturally, we always have something new to learn from them. Whether it's someone within our field with more experience or even with another professional background, at the end of the day what matters are the human interactions and the way we were able to enrich ourselves from them.
Work on your network
Whatever your professional area, having a contacts network full of people from whom you can learn and share experiences with, will surely be a great ally to your development. Whether by participating in events in the area or simply through a presence on social networks, the benefits of living in an ecosystem formed by other people in your field is already an excellent opportunity for growth.
Create the habit of reading
In an area as technical as this one, we sometimes forget the value that a book can add to our professional baggage. Our suggestion is to combine the best of both worlds, the physical and the digital one, because whatever the technological stack you use in your daily life, there is a large diversity of books about different programming languages.
Optimize your time and organize your agenda
Possibly the time when your occupation was only your studies is long gone. Now the reality is that you occupy a large part of your day with your job and you will have to make choices to manage time you still have available. Organizing your day and your week will allow you to attend to what is needed. Create lists, reminders, make use of your calendar.
Don't forget your portfolio
There are areas whose portfolios are the best professional’s business cards. The technological field is no exception. You've certainly had contact with different projects. You may even have developed extra-work projects, personal ones, where you put your technical skills into practice. Along with your resume, keep your portfolio as current as possible.
Patience will always be a virtue
We know that evolution takes time and not everything always happens in the time frame we have idealized. Whatever the rhythm, the important thing is to never stop and remind yourself that you've been further away from your goals. You just have to believe in the process and enjoy the journey. Every day you'll be better.