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What do I want to be when I grow up?

By Errk'd Guy ·
How in the heck did I get here!?! Over the past year I have stalled
in my career plans. Well actually, I identified that I really didn't
have plan.

I started as a CFO for a very small agency. The position also had
responsibility for supervising the IT contract staff. Over the past
5 years I have transitioned the fiscal duties to an analyst that I
trained and have taken on the IT area exclusively. I have brought
website management and network admin in-house, developed
databases, coordinated a massive data conversion from VAX to a
web based application (SQL backend), supervised hardware and
software upgrades (both client and server). As a working
manager I provide support and development as well as supervise
the small operational staff.

My B.S. is not technical and in my 13 years of government
service I have written policy, managed budgets, audited
programs and provided technical support and project
management. In order to continue to move onward and upward I
will need to either attain an MBA or several IT certifications. My
varied experiences make me an ideal generalists but I need
either the degree or ?Certs? to get in the door.

I really have no idea what is the best avenue to pursue. Right
now I function as a "Jack of all trades". But I don't like being a
"Master" of none. I feel that I am missing out on the experience
of truly having expertise in an area. My interests are scattered
and I really fear investing the time and money into certs or a
degree that will not be of interest. I need a starting point of
some kind. I have even considered career counseling which
seems to consist of just a bunch of test to tell you what you may
be good at and not necessarily what you would enjoy.

I am interested in learning how others decided where they
wanted to be and how they got there. I really want to feel like I
have a career not just a series of 'jobs'.

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I started as...

by cmiller5400 In reply to What do I want to be when ...

A purchasing person who fronted all the calls for the technology dept. I was the one to assign the calls to each tech. As I got better, they moved me into a position to actually concentrate on pc support and repair. Eventually I was responsible for servers that ran a mission critical application (sql, nas servers etc.) I would say being a "jack of all trades" is a good thing because you have some level of experience in a broad range of subjects. I have found that my studies in computer programming have helped in my PC support career, and have used them from time to time, but to concentrate on one thing probably would have held me back. A specialist that is in demand today may be out of a job tomorrow with the changing technologies. I chose a career in PC support because after taking all those classes, I decided that sitting behind a desk for 8 or more hours per day writing code would not be a good fit for me. Do what you feel is right for you. A "job" you love is worth more than a career you hate. Don't feel like you must specialize unless the job/career you want requires it.

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I interviewed an expert the other day

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to What do I want to be when ...

knew nothing about anything that I needed.

Subtle that wasn't it!

Specialism is for insects
Robert Anson Heinlein

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Lots of things

by Maevinn In reply to What do I want to be when ...

First, I think the other comments reflect the fact that a) we can't tell you what you want. b) if you're hoping you can get a degree/cert and quit training, you will be out of a job. Just doesn't work in this industry.

But--I think what you're looking for is a list of things to think about to help you make a plan for what traing to hit heavy and hard while still planning on being a jack of all...In which case...What do you like best about what you do now? For example, I've spent a lot of time in your shoes--do a little of everything. Focused mostly on database support, but still did hardware/software stuff, web pages every now and then, training users, lots of help desk stuff.

What I'm doing now is making a list of all the tasks that I DO, no matter the frequency. Then I'm ranking each item according to how much I've enjoyed doing it, and then another ranking for the items where I need improvement (okay, the areas where I clearly need a LOT of improvement!). Anything that ranks in the top 3 for both categories makes the cut for taking classes and getting a cert, if one is available.

It also helps if you can list out the certs available, and if classes are needed for one, is it just one class, or a series. That way you can really focus on what you like without going the total random, shotgun method of just taking everything that may apply.

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Learning is a life long process.

by Errk'd Guy In reply to Lots of things

Trust me ... I am under no delusion that specializing in an area
or function would mean I could stop training/learning. Or that
anyone is going to be able to tell me what I should do. So many
people I know seem to have a well thought out career path/plan.
Or perhaps I am suffering from a case of "the grass is always
greener ..."

I consider myself an ongoing learner. What I get tired of is only
being able to drill down only "so deep" into any technical
conversation before I am in over my head. While I do not expect
to become an expert at all things, I would like to be an expert in
at least one area ... however that area must be useful and not be
soon outdated or farmed out across the farm.

I have been thinking about system security but I may need to
shore up my other skill sets first.

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I'm confused!

by jdmercha In reply to What do I want to be when ...

You started as the CFO? What more do you need? The only place to go from there is CEO. Are you trying to climb down the corporate ladder?

I started as a Nuclear Engineer. Nuclear jobs dried up, so I moved over to IT.

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Not climbing down but maybe changing ladders.

by Errk'd Guy In reply to I'm confused!

It's not about where you "should" be but where you "want" to be.
Upward is not always the best course of action. I once worked
for a director how pursued the position because it was where he
and everyone else thought he "should be". He was "ok" as an
Exec. Director but I have seen better (and worse). However 'HE'
was miserable. The position was nothing like he thought it
would be. Needles to say he 'did' take a step backward and
seems to really enjoy what he is doing now (I am sure he misses
the power but not the responsibility or headaches).

Being a CFO is not all it is cracked up to be. Additionally I did
not enjoy working with 'accountant' types and so many of the
other headaches that came with the position. CEO would be an
interesting prospect but I am governement so that would be
more a Director, Executive Director type of a postion. To be
honest I am not much of a social networker and do not have the
political connections for that type of placement. Someday maybe

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That makes more sense

by jdmercha In reply to Not climbing down but may ...

Perhaps you are looking for a carreer change. And it sounds like you want a job that you enjoy. In that case ask yourself this question. If you could afford to retire tomorrow, what would you do? Would you work part time, do volunteer work, start a second career, start your own business or just relax.

I can't wait for retirement. And until someone is willing to pay me to golf, sail, dive and travel, I'll take whatever job gets me closer to retirement sooner.

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