Career Opportunities

Helping to build the career you deserve!

A weekly ComputorEdge Column and Podcast by Douglas E. Welch

Investing in yourself

January 7, 2000

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Everyone seems to be focused on the stock market lately, but there are much more important investments for the high-tech careerist to consider. I am not talking about stock options or day trading. When it comes to your career, the biggest investment you can make is in yourself. Too often high tech workers are so busy getting the job done they forget that there are better ways of doing the job.

A Little Class

Depending on your high school experience you might be eager or reluctant to set foot in a classroom again, but taking classes is one way to invest in yourself and expand your career. Ideally, your company will offer courses directly. This makes it easy to get to the classes and saves you the expense of taking the classes from a third party. If your company doesn’t offer the classes you need perhaps they have a tuition reimbursement program to help cover or defray the costs. Every good company should have some program to help its employees improve their skills.

Even if you have to pay for classes yourself it can be money well spent. Investments in certification programs, product training and Internet-related tools are going to serve you well in today’s work environment. A combination of all three would be best since you want to increase your overall skills in order to be viewed in a better light by both your current employer and any company you might interview with in the future.

If your company uses a specialized software product as an important part of its business, take some time to learn more about it. You can use your specialized knowledge to move up in your company. Management will always be looking for in-house experts to help guide other users of the software since it cuts down on the number of outside consulting hours required to keep the system running and up to date.
Just because you are a technical worker does not mean you should limit yourself to only technical classes. It is increasingly important for all high-tech workers to have a deeper understanding of basic business concepts in order to flourish, especially in the corporate environment. (See Minding Business, ComputorEdge, 8/13/99, There are many classes offered in management skills, presenting, budgeting and other finance issues. You can never tell where your career might take you. It is always best to prepare for a position in management in case one presents itself. These classes can also help you make your case to management when it is time to start the new re-engineering project or get the budget for a new corporate Intranet.


Whether you work for a large company or for yourself it is important to invest in the tools that help you do your job better. There are many types of tools, of course. Some of you need screwdrivers and pliers. Others need network analyzers and cable tools. Still others need hard disk repair programs and anti-virus software. If the cost of these tools worries you, compare it to the amount of money and time you stand to lose if you don’t have these tools. In some cases, such as computer graphics designers, webmasters, and network managers, it might be difficult or impossible to perform the job at all without specialized tools.
Tools can also take the form of information resources. While the Web, Usenet News and mailing lists are excellent sources of technical information you shouldn’t ignore old-fashioned magazines and newspapers. All of these sources can be excellent tools for keeping your knowledge current. Even better, your major investment for these tools is only the few minutes of time required to read the material. Not a bad return on that investment.

If you are still trying to get a job or find yourself in financial straits, visit your local library. Many of the books and manuals used in technical classes are available there. You might also be able to borrow textbooks and workbooks from friends or relatives. You might be able to find tutorials and other lessons online using your computer or a computer at the library. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a big return on your investment.

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