Get a mentor

It's a rare occurrence for a network support technician to approach his or her career development in the same thorough manner as the implementation plan for a new client/server installation.

For the most part, networking professionals hardly ever think about the steps they need to take to move up the organizational ladder. "Most people just wait to be handed their next assignment," says ContractFIRST recruiter Robert Waring, who has been providing technical job hunting advice to clients for more than 20 years.

But for go-getters who want to be proactive about advancement opportunities, Waring says one of the best way to get going is to find a mentor.

What is a mentor? For the typical IT department, a mentor will likely be a network manager or technology guru who is willing to give you feedback on what you need to do to get your next job and future promotions.

Every organization has a technical leader, says Waring. He says networking staff can find their mentors by deciding what jobs most interest them, researching who is knowledgeable in that specific technology or department, then cultivating a long term relationship with that person.

You say: "I'm a LAN/WAN architect working on Cisco hubs and routers, I'm interested in learning more about Web server implementations. Would it be OK to borrow some reference materials? Can I hang around after my shift to see what the job entails."

Waring doubts that managers will be offended by such aggressive tactics: "In today's tight labor market, good people are hard to find. When a department needs to hire someone, managers would rather hire a known commodity from within their own ranks."

Cohodas is a freelance journalist in Newburyport, MA.
This was first published in August 2000

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