Editor's Desk

A Different Future

Fate always has its finger in our lives, doesn’t it?

Fate always has its finger in our lives, doesn’t it? We exist today because of fate. Your father met your mother—and at some miraculous, one-in-a-million fateful moment, you were the result. I write these words in this column in this magazine because long ago I answered a tiny ad on a journalism class bulletin board for an editorial internship at a computer newspaper in San Diego.

Likewise, many of you probably never thought you’d end up working with computers. In my experience, IT professionals come from many backgrounds. According to a survey from ACT, the educational-assessment folks, only 5 percent of the 1.1 million high school seniors who took the ACT college-entrance exam this year named computer and information science as their intended college major. I’d call that a skills gap in the making. But fate will help fill it.

And that’s where this month’s topic—training—comes in. I know that I wrote about the same thing a few months ago—to lay the groundwork for this month’s coverage. From that column, a hundred of you wrote in with good and bad stories about your training experiences. We share a few in these pages, but you’ll find the bulk of those letters in the online edition of this issue. Then Keith Ward, our senior editor, spent two weeks of his life in a boot camp on Windows 2000 and reports on his findings. Online, Ronald Stewart, a professional trainer, talks about how to prepare for your upcoming training, and Rick Butler shares advice for veterans seeking training. Good advice across the board.

But now I have another reason to write about the topic. What is training but the act of preparing for a different future? Fate played a role in getting you here; now it’s time to give your future a helping hand.

Those of you who expected the halcyon days of NT 4.0 to last forever need to move on—whether it be to Win2K, another platform altogether or another field. You’ll never lose what you already know; at the same time, you need to keep pushing yourself in new ways.

Those of you wondering what direction to take, just get moving. Don’t let your brain cells calcify while you wait for market forces—or salary surveys—to command you. Take up programming; learn about wireless; dive into that OS you never thought you’d touch.

These days training comes in many forms: in-person and online instructor-led, books, Web sites, videos, conferences. And the best training companies offer “blended solutions,” which encompass many media for particular situations. Can’t find a network upon which to learn Active Directory? Consider buying access to ProPoint Online, Productivity Point’s new virtual network. That will give you all the hands-on experience with AD you need. Don’t know what your staff should focus on? Tap Logilent’s skills indexing, which will tell you the technical strengths and weaknesses of everybody in your team to help you customize its training programs.

Accept no excuses for yourself. Fate will play its part, but you have a role, too.

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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