Group Theory

35 Tips IT Professionals Should Know at the Start of Their Career

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  1. Compound interest. Save early and often.
  2. Learn the OSI model.
  3. Don’t let your skills stagnate; when they become obsolete, so do you.
  4. Soft skills are not soft. Being a good writer/speaker, having empathy, compassion, and being able to cooperate with others makes a world of difference.
  5. Contribute as much as you can to your retirement because taxes would otherwise grab the rest. At the very least, contribute the maximum, so you get the maximum company contribution.
  6. If possible, set up your 401k to automatically increase your contribution by 1% every year; you’ll never notice the dip in your take-home pay, but you will see a big difference come retirement time.
  7. Follow the 3-tier model when deciding on staying at a job or finding a new one:
  • Does the job pay me what I want?
  • Do I enjoy the job or can at least stand it?
  • Am I learning and rising in the direction I want at my current position?
  1. Be prepared to question what you know. Re-learn what you have studied multiple times, and you’ll be confident in your understanding of the subject.
  2. Leave your ego at the door; it’s meaningless and has no real value in the business world.
  3. Mentor others and open doors for those learning the ropes; that’s the ultimate test of all you’ve ever learned. Being able to pass your knowledge down and seeing its results is a beautiful thing.
  4. Always stay learning; if you can, do it on the company’s dime (within reason of course).
  5. Make sure to learn what matters. Dying technologies and practices are dying for a reason.
  6. Be nimble, embrace change, don’t complain, adapt.
  7. Never reside at a company longer than necessary if your main goal is to earn as much income as possible. Swapping jobs often not only helps you get promoted faster in your career but also enables you to get more significant raises. Start looking to change positions every 14 to 20 months. For every 3-4 years of experience, stay an extra 2-3 months.
  8. Listen and learn from your coworkers but keep your opinions to yourself. Similar to the court of law, anything you say may be used against you.
  9. Create a work-to-life balance immediately. Be consistent; staying late doesn’t guarantee a promotion. As we work for around 1/3 of our life, sleep for an additional 1/3, we only have about 1/3 of our life as free time. Don’t give your life to a company who would simply replace you if you died.
  10. If the culture and politics suck, look for another job. You can’t strive for change from within if the company is the issue.
  11. Don’t let IT be your life. In my opinion, you should have a hobby that strengthens your mind, a hobby that strengthens your body, and a hobby that strengthens your positivity (going to the gym hits all three!)
  12. Always ask, “what is the worst that could happen, and what will I do if it does?” before you hit Enter.
  13. Take risks and know when to break the rules.
  14. Take responsibility for your career; no one else will.
  15. Education, certifications, and experience are all separate credentials; if you want to be at the top of the resume stack, have all three.
  16. Fake it till you make it is a real way to make positive changes to yourself.
  17. Being healthy and physically fit can make a significant difference not only in the quality of your life but also in the quality of your work life.
  18. Salary is not the most vital part of a great company, but you may not realize this until you’re working for a great company.
  19. IT is a remarkably small world. Don’t burn bridges for the sake of watching them burn – it could come back at you.
  20. Take the opportunities when they come even if you think you aren’t ready; the chance might not come again soon, if ever.
  21. Take pride in your work but be able to move on. Don’t cling to a project or system that has no reason to survive.
  22. Be kind to everyone and stay comfortable to work with, both inside and outside of your department. Being talented is a beautiful thing, but people don’t want to work with an asshole.
  23. If you are a member of the senior staff, teach your junior members to understand why things work. Knowing how to fix something isn’t enough.
  24. The more you know about what your company does and how the company succeeds, the better positioned you will be to help it succeed further.
  25. Know your limitations and work to push past them.
  26. With each new project, take the time to update your resume; you will think you will remember it, but you won’t.
  27. It’s better to sell someone on your solution rather than to say their answer is wrong.
  28. Take chances, take positions that make you uncomfortable, network, and develop relationships. Fortune favors the bold.

 

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