A post by Ned Pyle was just released on the AskDS blog, which is excellent and should be read immediately:
Reading through this got me thinking about my own career, my abilities and attributes. I consider myself good at my job, and invaluable to my company, but reading pretty much anything by Ned or other respected IT personalities (those at the top of the Serverfault reputation list come to mind) leave me wishing I had more.
More knowledge, more skills, more time to study, play in a lab, read more books. More motivation to excel and be more creative for my company.
I find that it is difficult to really retain knowledge and gain expertise on technology with which you don’t have any real interaction with, and I’m always afraid of spending time learning and mastering something, just to have that knowledge wither and die. When I graduated from SAIT in 2005, I had my CCNA, was trained for CCNP and would have passed the test easily but never took it because my first job was entry level system admin. Since then I haven’t touched a real routing protocol, or any Cisco device for that matter, and those skills have atrophied. I’m fearful that things I spend time on that have no relevance in my current position will be a waste of time.
Perhaps my perspective on all this is a little skewed, since at this medium sized company there are only two IT staff (myself included) and every area of IT falls under my responsibility. I’m directly responsible for (and have implemented myself) Exchange, Hyper-V, SQL, Windows Server and client OS, networking, backups, purchasing, policy making, documentation, monitoring, the list goes on. In addition, I’m beginning to learn C# and ASP.net for developing in-house tools at my company.
Just as Ned mentioned, it’s hard to be an expert in everything, but since I deal with everything, sometimes its hard to be an expert in anything. We’re hiring for a help-desk position in the near future so hopefully that will remove some lower end duties, giving me a bit of free time for some real learning and professional development.
All that being said, I start thinking about the things I am involved in at work, and can see many areas of improvement. Exchange and Hyper-V both come to mind, as those have both been my implementations, but I am in no way an expert for either. They’re also both critical to my company, and that in itself is a good motivator for improvement.
Either way, knowing there is room for improvement is powerful, and there’s a lot of helpful links from Mr. Pyle that I’ll be following up on.