A Different Future
Fate always has its finger in our lives, doesn’t it?
- By Dian Schaffhauser
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.
Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.