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How Do I... Grow My Technical Career?

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Thu, 08/16/2012 - 06:16
Aug 16th, 2012
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It’s a great time for geeks and techies to take a technical path to  career growth! The industry has seen a huge number of technology  transitions and your technical insight is highly valuable.


Cisco’s Distinguished Engineers offer these tips for  accelerating your career growth:



Own  a Technology Area

Instead of spreading yourself too thin,  master one or two technology areas. (Don’t forget about foundation areas  such as Routing, Switching, or Network Management.) Become a "go to"  person by working hard to help others solve their problems; as a  byproduct you grow not only your technical expertise but your own  network of contacts. Become a "virtual go to" person by growing your  reputation in online forums and communities, and get yourself known as a  default gateway.


Share What You Know and Develop  Others

After you have mastered one or two areas, give it back  out. Document what you know and share it. Share your knowledge with  your peers, but also more broadly. Speak at conferences and within  online communities. Be a visible expert in that particular area and  build up your reputation.


A key way to do this is  by mentoring other engineers. It's difficult to move on to bigger and  better things unless you help create successors for your current role.  It's also very rewarding to see the great things done by engineers you  have developed. At Cisco, "who have they brought along with them" is a  critical factor of technical professional growth.


By  sharing what you know and developing others, you expand your scope of  influence, which directly enables your career growth. Influence the  teams you work with on a day-to-day basis, but also those across your  entire organization, region, company, and in the industry.



Make  Yourself Uncomfortable

Find a way to work with others on  issues outside your comfort zone. Be the rookie on a team in an area  that is totally different. Continue to challenge yourself technically,  until you master and "own" a new technology area. This will give you the  versatility to understand end-to-end architectures and identify  patterns.



In summary, here are some quotes  from Cisco Distinguished Engineers about how to distinguish yourself in  your career:



  • “Learn, teach, retain, and be humble.  Growth ends when your  passion ends.”
  • “Quickly learn and adapt. Find solutions to a variety of technical  and business issues.”
  • “Take a program, a technology, any kind of initiative and becoming  a thought leader -- not only to customers and the industry as a whole,  but internally as well.”
  • “If you have become an expert at something, take the time to teach  people, write an article, give a talk at a conference, take your  knowledge and share it, show you’re an expert.”
  • “Never stop learning, take risks, and don’t be afraid to say you  don’t know, but then go and find out that answer.”
  • “Take ownership of problems that no one else wanted to tackle.”
  • "Co-write, co-solve, collaborate!"
  • "Be proactive as technology is constantly evolving. Look at the  next transition and get on the boat early to be cutting edge."




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