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Pay it Forward

Tuesday, April 01, 2014   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Vincent Luciani, Association Director
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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.

Vincent Luciani 
AITP Association Director
CIO – IAC

Comments...

Kira Kellerman says...
Posted Friday, April 04, 2014
Nice article! Mentoring others is very important in your own development.
Vicki Hampton says...
Posted Friday, April 04, 2014
Nice article Vince. I would also ask that they reach out to the student chapters. Share yourself and your knowledge with the ones who will eventually take your place.
Michael L. Welch says...
Posted Thursday, April 03, 2014
Vince, Great article, and so very pertinent! There were several who mentored me, and I remember them. Thanks for putting the reminder for all professionals to give back by paying forward. Congrats to you. Michael Welch, AITP Association President.

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