Make the Effort to Invest in Yourself

I’ve lost count of the number of companies that don’t pay for training—or even provide tuition reimbursement. I also see too many organizations decide whom to hire based on technical skills. They don’t see the irony here.

That means you’re responsible for your ongoing career development. And here’s the kicker: The more you learn and practice, the more valuable you are.

So, to continue to be relevant and knowledgeable in an ever-changing industry, you need to decide: What skills do you want to develop? Early in my career, I focused on technical skills. I learned more computer languages, ways to design and architect systems, and better methods to develop and test.

After about ten years, I started to hone my interpersonal skills. I am still honing. That’s also when I became more interested in project management and management in general.

I moved between individual contributor, technical leadership, and project management or management roles for about six years before I committed to project management and management. If I had not experimented and learned in that time, I would not have known how to decide on my career direction.

You don’t have to choose between technical skills or interpersonal skills. I find that I learn technical skills when I practice feedback and coaching. That’s because, for me, feedback and coaching are not one direction; I learn through the conversations with my clients.

You don’t have to spend much money to invest in yourself. You can read articles and blogs as a start, and maybe buy a book or two. You could even start a book club and have everyone in a group read a book once a month and discuss them.

If you are willing to spend more, consider a workshop or courses at a local school.

Whatever you do, make sure you practice the new skills. For that, you might want to work on an open source project. I find that when I work on projects like that, with many contributors, I tend to learn more new technical skills. It also helps me with practicing my interpersonal skills. You might find the same.

Your company probably wants you to invest in yourself, even if they aren’t willing to pay. So, take the matter into your own hands. What do you want to learn?

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