General discussion


Training outside of work or how not to sleep

By campbelltaylor ·
So I am a contractor now after a couple of years permanent. There is always so much to learn and I am curious how people train/test/play if they don't have the chance in the workplace... in other words how are people balancing home/work life. I have a partner and so I am trying to spend evening time with her and friends, and get up super early to spend a couple of hours doing self led training.

How do you do it? Does anyone sleep in this industry? Redbull - I am open for sponsorship offers

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

5 total posts (Page 1 of 1)  
| Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -


by Jaqui In reply to Training outside of work ...

you are your own boss... you can authorise training at any time.
( as long as the money is there for it. )

how can you not have the chance in the workplace?

if your contract details duties then it should also detail hours, so you should have no problem sceduling the time with family / friends.
( if not, then you made mistake in contract and need to look at the negotiation process again )

Collapse -

No question "personal" time is used for self training

by stress junkie In reply to Training outside of work ...

I've been doing this for a long time so maybe my experiences will be helpful to you. Of the 20 years that I've been working in IT 5 of those were divided between two different jobs as a direct employee. The other 15 years were largely spent in contract work. I am now getting into pure consulting.

Over the years I have found that you will benefit if you do a lot of training outside of work. I have purchased and built numerous computers both for the experience and to save money. I have had a home LAN just for the experience. I certainly don't need a home LAN for my personal needs. I have purchased and read many expensive books.

I have found that you can justifiably spend some time at a job involved in your own training. If you are selective and keep your activities related to the specific customer needs you can spend idle time in work researching technical information. If you are developing software then you could justify reading a book on algorithms or on techniques of using the tools that your customer is using. Just be prepared to respond when someone asks you what you are doing. Point out how reading this or that book "on the clock" is helping you to meet the needs of your customer.

Some years ago I spent most of my time supporting VAX/VMS. I was usually given a desktop VAX to perform my work. I found that these machines were excellent tools to learn performance tuning. I especially liked having a VS2000 on my desk. These machines were so weak that it was very easy to overload them. When I made a tuning change the VS2000 performance would change dramatically either for better or for worse. I could easily see the effect of changing a given tuning parameter using these small machines. As a contract employee you will probably find that your customer will give you junk equipment to perform your job and your desk will be located in a coat closet or a stairwell. You can often parlay this into an opportunity as I did with the VAX VS2000s.

I have spent many hours "on the clock" as a contract employee reading application and system administration manuals. This is going to be completely different as a consultant. If you are working as a contract employee you will be working a normal shift just like direct employees. You will have some time with nothing to do. You can ethically use that time to hone your technical skills as long as it directly benefits your current customer.

Here are a couple of off topic pointers that come from my experience.

Don't drink the coffee in the office machine. I was once admonished by my manager at one hellish situation that the coffee was for direct employees only. I made a resolution to NEVER drink the coffee at any job.

Don't attend employee celebrations. I was once told in no uncertain terms that the ten minute birthday party of one of the employees was not intended for me to attend.

Don't give your customer your home phone number. You are not a direct employee. You should not have to put up with your customers calling you at home unless it was mentioned in advance before you accepted the position that it is part of the job requirements.

Don't complain about direct employees. You will always be the outsider, even if you work at a given contract job for years. Managers see their direct employees as parents see their children. If you complain about a direct employee it is as if you had complained about a child to its parents. There is no way for you to benefit in the long run.

I hope this helps.

Collapse -

Other options

by Dr Dij In reply to No question "personal" ti ...

I've found one of the cheapest online training options is Don't overbuy, get one of their packages and do as many as you can during one year, then buy another package. They give you a running start into most topics and you can read a book if you need more info. Each topic has a series of courses on dift aspects of topics, i.e. there were 10 or so Oracle 9 courses.

packages have hundreds of courses and are under $300. they are based on leading books. every 5-10 pages they quiz you with multiple choice (easy if you pay attention), fill in, click here (you have to pay attention for fillin).

areas are 1) network & pc - cisco, ms servers, ...
2) graphics/ web - very heavy on web, photoshop,e tc
3) programming / software - vb, vstudio, perl, xml, etc
and cheaper packages for end users
4) access, excel, word...

you can see what courses they have for each package before you buy. They keep your scores online and you can print a certif if you get over 70% in any course. suggest you print all these and put in binder. shows potential employers you're serious about improving yourself.

the crystal rpts courses came in handy. I was assigned to extract data from our ERP system after taking these.

Also avoid spending big bucks on books. instead, spend $400 /year and get books24x7 access to thousands of high quality, full text & graphics books online. ALL the sas manuals and IBM redbooks are online here, also PMBOK - proj mgmt official website docs; You can search ALL books for a phrase and it keeps multiple bookmarks. You can see lists of new books or top books each week others are reading.

I was viewing an online webinar by famous author of data whsing and her books was online! Told her I was reading her book and she offered to sign it if she ever ran into me, ... kind of hard to do that for an online book but I'd probably run out and buy it if I knew I'd meet her.

there is another books online place but you can only look at 10 books at a time and have to leave them on your book list for a month and can't read any others.

You need a life. I do one course a day before my GF gets home and if a slack moment at work, I work on one for up to an hour, if it is remotely job related.

When we're watching TV, she chooses shows sometimes so I don't feel too obligated to pay close attention and read some online books; we're still together on the couch. It's nice as you can set text big and make it easy to read quick.

Collapse -

Just Wait...

by jgarcia102066 In reply to Training outside of work ...

This will be a constant struggle. How to balance work, study and home life. Imagine being married and having 3 boys (11 years,4 years,7 months)!!

I typically have about 7-10 hours per week to do what I want. Sometimes I need to use this to study. I am a developer so when I run into a complex issue, I do some research to find the best possible solution and this is done during work hours. Sometimes it extends to my 7-10 hours. I receive tons of industry magazines and I try to read at least one article per day (at work) that is related to what I am doing.

You need to find a good mix that works for you and your partner. I'm sure your partner would give you time as long as when you have partner time, you don't study.

Good Luck.

Collapse -

You are your own career manager...

by Marty R. Milette In reply to Training outside of work ...

If you want to be successful long-term in the IT industry, you MUST continue upgrading yourself.

This business isn't where you get a degree or diploma, do your job for 20 years and then retire.

As for myself, I'm pushing 50 and have passed 40+ Microsoft exams, plus numerous other industry exams and STILL have miles to go. Am 2 assignments away from a Master's degree in IT Management -- people think I'm nuts doing it at my age, but every bit of education advances you.

In fact, every dollar you spend on your own education and training will be returned to you 10 times (or more!) over the long-term -- in increased salary or billing rate. You can't make that kind of return keeping money in the bank.

You are your own career manager. If the company won't pay or give you time to learn -- then you have the CHOICE of either stagnating in your current position or investing in YOURSELF to achieve what you really want.

This industry is merciless when it comes to people who don't keep themselves up to date. I've laughed more than a couple of job candidates out the door when hearing excuses why they couldn't keep themselves updated.

Want to make yourself 'recession-proof' -- just stay at the leading edge of the learning curve. There is NO SHORTAGE of jobs for people with skills that are in-demand.

I should add that a great trick is to always carry something to read around with you. It is amazing how much you can get through waiting for the bus, train, being in-transit, waiting in lines or whatever. Books are a great way to study 'on the go' and are relatively cheap as compared to some other forms of study.

Back to IT Employment Forum
5 total posts (Page 1 of 1)  

Related Discussions

Related Forums