Pay it Forward
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Posted by: Vincent Luciani, Association Director
While I would like to think that I am still fairly young,
I’ve been in the IT business more years than I care to admit. Like me, I
am sure you can recall those unique individuals that crossed your path, perhaps
a manager or senior executive who gave you solid advice, someone who took you
under his or her wing or guided you through a difficult situation. In my
first "real” job out of college, I worked for an investment banking company
where I managed a Banyan Vines network (see, I told you I’ve been
around). A few years later, Novell’s Netware became the standard, so I
took a job at a company that relied purely on Netware, even though I didn’t
know the first thing about it. I came up to speed as quickly as I could,
absorbing everything there was to know about Netware to the point where I
considered myself an expert in all aspect of administration.
While I learned a good deal of it on my own; through trial
and error and by tinkering with test environments, in no way did I reach that
level solely on my own. During those years, there was someone who guided
me, teaching me best practices and acted as a sounding board. ‘Lou’ was
actually a consultant who had worked there for years prior to my arrival.
He was much older than I, knew the networks inside and out and clearly had far
more hands-on experience. Most importantly, he was willing to share
it. We spent many late nights in the data center performing upgrades and
enhancements to the network, and I never stopped learning from him. As
the years passed, I moved on to other opportunities. Sadly we lost touch
but I have never forgotten his contribution to my career.
In reflecting back, I can think of many others who’ve had an
equally profound impact. I’ve come to learn that it’s the individuals
who’ve invested their time in you, who’ve imparted their knowledge, that help
to define you. It’s those individuals who’ve earned my admiration and
gratitude. Take a moment to think about your career and those who have helped to shape where
you may be today. For those of you who have recently started your career,
you may recognize these people already. Perhaps she’s the department
manager who has amazing project management and organization skills, or the
developer who sits next to you who helped you optimize some code.
For those of you who are more ‘seasoned’, I encourage you to
be that special person. Share your knowledge. Giving back to
the industry and others is perhaps the most rewarding thing you can do for your
career. After all, no one truly succeeds in isolation. So how can
you take the next step?
There are numerous avenues available to you. Since you
are reading this, you are obviously a member of AITP. First and foremost,
I suggest participating more in AITP. Offer to speak at your next
upcoming chapter meeting or join a chapter committee. Chapters are always
seeking qualified speakers and organizers for events. And contrary to
what you may think, it takes only as much time as you are willing to
give. If public speaking isn’t your ‘thing,’ then maybe a local college
or university has a mentorship program or an IT advisory committee.
Arguably there is no greater satisfaction than to offer professional advice to
a student. Lastly, if your current employer doesn’t have a formal
mentoring program, suggest one and take the lead.
There are likely dozens of other avenues and
opportunities to give back. They may take different forms but the message
is the same. When you reflect back on your career and appreciate those
remarkable people who’ve assisted you along the way, strive to be that
person. Someone may thank you in the future.
AITP Association Director
CIO – IAC