“How do you keep yourself updated in this ever changing world of IT ?”
This is one of my favourite questions during an interview and it always amazes me how many of them to whom I ask this start fumbling or talk about some half a decade old technology. Unlike other careers where the basic concept and knowledge of history matters a lot in IT it is the other way around. It would not be incorrect to say that in most other careers knowledge required for being an expert is like a queue (First in First out) but as far as Information Technology is concerned its a stack (Last in First out) aka The latest knowledge is the most relevant one. This makes the not so easy life of anyone in this career even tougher. It requires you to be updated with the latest technological trends. Technology careers can be related to Fashion Industry where it get outdated every few weeks.
So how do you really keep yourself updated is a million dollar question. It would have been a difficult thing to do a few decades ago but the answer lies in the advancement of technology itself. Internet continues to be important source of information, but like any technology it has its disadvantage as well. With such a large quantity of information it is important to identify those which matters to us.
Setting up an Google alert is one of the easiest and trendiest way to keep yourself updated with the latest technological changes. Google alerts let you set the frequency and mode of communication for the area you have specified.
Visit http://www.google.com/alerts to set your required alerts
Conferences and Seminars/webinars
Attending conferences and seminars allow you to keep yourself updated with the latest information. A lot of them are free and also provide the opportunity to meetup like minded people and experts. Information shared in such conferences, seminars/webinars points to the direction where the market is headed.
Technology companies usually have a annual or bi-annual even in which the CEO or the technology folks comever and share whats new happening in their company and also unweil new products that usually are developed hush hush.
Training and Certification
Certifications play an important part of any IT professional’s career, although there will always be some debate on how important. Certifications are, like most things in life: The more you put into them, the more you will get out. While the actual knowledge you gain on the journey is the true reward, certifications also indicate to employers that you take your job seriously and that you are knowledgeable on the respective technology.
Online user communities
The user communities are the buzz of activities for any new technology. History has enough proof on how opensource communities become the hub for all those interested in a particular technology sharing their experiences and feedback and thereby helping those who are new or ones facing similar issues. I remember using the servlet list servers to improve my knowledge in servlets and JSPs in the initial stages of my career. http://www.nabble.com/ was one important place i used to visit a lot for sharing information and issues.
Blogs and Social connection
Blogs have been places where the experts pen down their experiences only to be shared with someone who is looking for a similar information. Since technology blogs are usually written by those who have walked the path its a great place to get authentic and useful information for any newbie. Now a days Social connectivity has grown in multiple folds where each and everyone is a part of at least a couple social media tool like twitter or LinkedIn. These communities ensure information travel in the speed of light between the knowledge seeker and the knowledge provider.
From time on time the Job boards and career sites have been a great source of information to me to find what tools and technologies the recruiters are looking for. You will be really amazed to see an abundance of information in these sites with names of technologies you might have never heard of and this actually forms the trigger for me to search or set an alert for technology buzz words. It also gives a clear picture of demand and supply of technology experts. Around the early 2000 while both Microsoft and Java technologies where growing the only reason I chose to divert my attention towards Java was the fact that there was an immense demand and lesser experts.
Twitter is one more source of information in real time. It would really surprise you how todays tweets become tomorrows news. In Twitter the people you follow are like friends you have, the better the people you follow the better information you get. So and create a twitter handle for yourself and start following some awesome people. My twitter handle is @vtrrk just in case you would like to follow me. I usually use this handle to tweet about technology stuff.
So my advice to all those youngsters is to keep your self updated with the latest and as it is said it is not only important to increase the breadth of your knowledge it is also important to focus in one such technology of your interest.
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