We are in a terrible crisis, and it has been very stressful for everyone. Some of us are in the frontlines, some of us losing their jobs, some of us in small businesses affected by the shutdown, and some of us forced to work from home. Kids missing school and adapting to online learning, missing out on proms and graduations, missing going out and playing with their friends. Some of us juggling work from home while taking care of our children. And to top it all, fear of catching the virus and be in a precarious health situation. Chaos - to simply put it. But we as humans have survived adversities in the past and we will get over this as well. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
So what can we do with the situation we are in? How can we turn this adversity in our favor and make it a positive thing? How can we utilize the time we got and turn it into something productive and prepare for the future?
Getting away from all the negativity, spending some to reflect on ourselves, inculcating positive habits, focusing on productive tasks, managing stress, being happy, accepting the things we cannot control, and most importantly - staying healthy.
I am not going to give you any advice on any one of the above but I have some suggestions that can help us better ourselves to learn, share and ready ourselves for future. I was recently asked a question - “What should I do to improve my career path, to learn and to secure a job if, God forbid, I lose mine?”
Here are some things that I want to cover:
- Connect with people
- Build your online presence
- Teach and share your knowledge
- Read a book or two
- Get certified
- Take care of yourself
Connect with people
There are plenty of us who are suffering and need help. Pick up the phone and call them. There are lot of us who are not fortunate enough to have a person to talk to. Ask them how they are doing. See if you can help them with anything. Do whatever small you can do within your means. Every little thing helps.
Connect to your peers in the industry, follow them on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, attend webinars or conferences online, and subscribe & listen to podcasts. Engage in conversations that pique your interest. Post something you learned or retweet/share something interesting you read.
Seek out the influencers in your field, your co-workers, your business associates, and the leaders you admire. Connect with them. Send an invite but put in a comment on why you want to connect with them. Make it personal. Follow the companies you like, the user groups related to your field, and other organizations that you are associated with.
Build your online presence
Spend some time updating your resume or your LinkedIn profile. Online profiles reach more people and are only a click away. It is easy to update and shows up on the recruiters’ and your followers’ radar via alerts. Update frequently. Take advantage of the search engines to find you. Make your profile do more for you.
You can save your LinkedIn profile as a PDF to share with people who still need a static resume. The point is just to keep your online resume updated rather than managing different versions of your static resume.
The same logic applies to content on Twitter or Instagram. Build a killer Twitter profile. Great way to build a community around you, the tech you like, or influencers you follow. Post regularly on a category or topic you like. Create a list by category on Twitter. You can see my lists and jump-start your feed. I have The Serverless Computing Daily which I share, that curates posts related to the Serverless technology. Start your own.
I would also recommend that you keep your work profiles separate from your personal profiles. Different communities and different interests. Don’t bore your family with your tech content ;) Start building your online presence today.
Teach and share your knowledge
We all are good at something. Make an effort to teach someone else about it. Present at a meetup online. Share your presentation. Write a blog post and explain something for a newbie. Make a Youtube video. We all have learned something from someone. Pay it forward. Here are my presentations, webinars, blog posts, and Medium posts.
A smart way to increase your reach is to replicate your content across platforms. You find something interesting that you read. Do some research and write a blog post or post a video on Youtube. Create a presentation from that content and present it at a meetup. Create a small demo and upload it to Github. Reference the blog post, the video, and the slide deck on the project readme. Link to other useful resources and link them to your blog post. Link to some of the influencers on social media that you follow or that helped your learning. Link to their other posts related to the same topic. Finally, post the link to your post on social media. Now, look at what you have done. You have spun a nice little web around your content and your community. Don’t forget to attach a Google Analytics code to your website or blog. It is so much fun to see the web activity and user engagement that your work generates. It is so motivating and rewarding! Write that first blog post.
Check out this awesome post “The cloud resume challenge” by Forrest Brazeal, that makes a claim “send me your resume, and I will do my best to help you get a job in the cloud.”. It goes in length to detail the conditions that you need to meet. The best part about the conditions is that it forces you to get a starter certification, build your resume online, and then host it on your domain. It forces you to learn some cloud technologies while you build your resume site. Take the challenge. Even if you are not looking for a job, it will teach you how to use cloud technologies end to end.
Read a book or two
One thing we have nowadays is time. Spend the time wisely. Pick up a book that is gathering dust on your shelf, or you put away after you bought it. Order hard copy books or buy an e-book on Kindle or Apple Books, and start reading it right away. If you like to listen to audiobooks while taking a walk or running, get an Audible.com subscription. Many local libraries now distribute digital books using services like RBDigital or Overdrive. Check with your local library website. Many companies have Safari Books Online, a subscription-based site that lets you access as many books, magazines, videos, training courses, and conference material online.
Learn something new
With time on our hands, challenge yourself to learn something new. A new recipe. A new skill. A new technology. A new cloud platform. A new language. A new art. The possibilities are endless. Get out of your comfort zone.
Take advantage of your company’s resources to train yourself in the field you work or a field that you always wanted to indulge in but had no time. There are a lot of resources for free or inexpensive courses like Udemy, A Cloud Guru, LinuxAcademy, Pluralsight, Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy to just name a few. Just signup for free and they will occasionally send you emails about their promotions. You can get some of these courses for as little as $10. You can check out these 450 Ivy League courses that you can access online for free.
If you need to challenge yourself and secure a job in the future, commit to getting certified. AWS, Azure, Google, SalesForce, SAP - all have different levels of certifications that you can take.
Another way to get access to content is podcasts, conference videos, and Youtube channels. Here are some of my favorite podcasts: The Tim Ferris Show, AWS, The Doppler Podcasts, DevOps and Docker Talk, The Cloud Cast, Serverless Podcasts, The NewStack Analysts, ThinkFaaS, Technology Flows, Good Day Sir, Kubernetes Podcast, Microsoft Cloud Show, Azure Friday Channel 9, and Real World Serverless - just to name a few.
Take care of yourself
Last but not the least, we need to take care of ourselves. Not only during this pandemic but always. Eat healthy and a balanced meal. Go for a walk every day and/or exercise. Reflect, meditate, pray. Other things that might relieve stress and alleviate boredom: be organized, follow a schedule, get disciplined, reject negativity and be positive, instill good habits, make your bed, do a good turn daily, be kind, and help others…
Stay home. Stay safe. Be healthy. #AloneTogether.
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