Career Advice, From Einstein No Less…

So what could a Nobel laureate shake-the-foundations of reality genius have to teach us  about tech careers?  A lot. Or, at least ten things. The Dumb Little Man blog recently posted 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn from Albert Einstein It’s great advice, so I’ve included them below with a tech bent.

  1. Follow Your Curiosity: If you have been heads down in IT for years, but always wondered what Albert Einsteinprogramming is all about, then go for it. Crack a book or learn online. Attend some local tech events and chat up some programmers to see what their day/career is really like.
  2. Perseverance is Priceless: Achieving a huge goal like getting an MCSE may seem like a long and arduous path, and it is. But if you keep at it, one by one you will knock out all of the exams. And my oh my, won’t people be impressed by the extra letters in your email signature. It’s the same with any technical skill.  If you stick with it long enough, you’ll get there, and be the better for it.
  3. Focus on the Present: When you are fine tuning the development schedule, be present.  Don’t think about your next meeting, or what you’re going to have for lunch. Focus on the task at hand. When you’re talking with a co-worker about his piece of the project, be present. If you learn to  concentrate on the present moment, on the present task, you will achieve more with better results.  Leave the multi-tasking to your CPU.
  4. The Imagination is Powerful: Who would have thought that chocolate and peanut butter would be so good together?  From your server environment to your long term career plans, schedule yourself some chin rubbing time occasionally to think of the “what if” possibilities.
  5. Make Mistakes: Whether you want to or not, you will practice this one. The true message here is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. Try to avoid career ending screw-ups, but take the occasional calculated risk. Otherwise, you’re not growing.
  6. Live in the Moment: This is somewhat a repeat of 3, but I think there may be some nuance here.  Going back to 5, if you¿ve made a mistake, that’s in the past. Don’t dwell on it. Learn what you can, but don’t stay there emotionally. As for the future, we can influence it, but we are not in control. The only moment you can ever have some sway over is the one you are having right now.  Don’t waste it.  In a blink, it will be gone.
  7. Create Value: I’ve talked about this before on this blog. If you’re always creating value in everything you do, you are increasing your worth to the business as a whole, and widening your circle of influence.
  8. Don’t Expect Different Results: Ah, that famous Einstein quote. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  It’s so true. If you keep doing the same thing and expect to get ahead at work, forget it.  You have to shake things up. You have to research, and read, and try new things. You may even have to change jobs if necessary. If you find yourself not reaching your goals, you need to make minor course corrections to keep on track.
  9. Knowledge Comes From Experience: It’s one thing to read about supporting an office network, it’s an entirely different thing to actually do it.  In the schoolbooks, they don’t tell you that there will be actual human beings using the network. Experience is what got you from a saliva infused couple of syllables to being essentially conversationally fluent in the first few years of your life. Your career skills are the same. You have to experience things to gain mastery.  If you want to get into database administration, but you’re currently in phone tech support, set up a DB at home and tinker.  Look for non-profits that are looking for DB admin volunteers. Bottom line, just do it.
  10. Learn the Rules and Then Play Better: When you start at a job, try to learn about the business of the company in addition to all the facets of your new gig. Invite co-workers to lunch and anything else you can do to soak up as much tribal knowledge as possible. Once you know how the business works as a whole, you’ll know better how you fit, and what you can do to excel.

Applying these tips might not make you a genius on par with Dr. Einstein, but they will at least increase your career IQ.

–Chad Broadus

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