Waiting for your company to provide training courses or advancement opportunities? It might be a long wait. Unfortunately many companies overlook professional development or consistently sacrifice it when the first round of annual budget cuts occur. Even when we do get training opportunities, many of us continue to select classes at random, based on what seems interesting at the moment.
We live in a field that is expanding daily, where the environment we work in is drastically different from what it was 5 years ago and from what it will be 5 years from now. Whether we plan on being in a different role or not, advancing our skills and staying in step with the market is a must.
This post covers a number of helpful links and ideas for staying up to date in our field.
Creating a development plan can help provide focus and give us a measure of our progress. These articles provide additional information on creating and refining our plans:
- SQL Server Professional Development Plan, Part 1 and Part 2 by Buck Woody (blog | twitter)
- How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan (IDP) and a great checklist by Dan McCarthy (blog | twitter)
- Your Own Personal Development Plan by Jeremiah Peschka (blog | twitter)
Tools and Processes
Once we have a plan, we need to be able to execute it. Having tools to help us execute the plan, methods of communicating the plan, and tricks for finding time can all help us be successful.
- The Personal Kanban site has a lot of good information on creating a visual board and process to help manage short and long term tasks
- Jes Borland (blog | twitter) helps track her progress by reporting a Quarterly Status to her friends and the wider community
- And American Express's OPEN Forum has a number of ideas on where we can find time to execute
Free and Cheap Resources
Not all development costs money. My own plan includes a certain amount of blog writing (free), reading a certain number of articles each week (free), an ongoing effort to keep up to date with webinars and webcasts (free), and attendance (and beginning to speak) at user groups and events (the free kind).
I can't afford Tech-Ed or the PASS Summit, but I can afford:
- Watching the recorded Tech-Ed sessions for free at MSDN (I've had over 11 hours of free training so far)
- Watching the 2008 PASS Summit recordings for free (requires login)
- Catching free live and recorded webcasts from Microsoft
Have more ideas or links for resources? Add them to the comments below. I'm always on the lookout for more ideas and I'm sure others would appreciate them as well.