IT Pro Continued Professional Development

Ed and I have were out and about at SpiceWorld last week...


and a recurrent theme has been how do we keep up with all this change from Microsoft, be that Windows 10 and its big brother Windows Server 2016 or that Azure cloud thing? So imagine you are a doctor, lawyer or an accountant for a minute, what do they do about this problem as laws and the tax and compliance picture is also constantly changing but to a lesser extent? The answer is continued professional development (CPD) and the professional bodies they belong to require them to do that in order to remain members, fellows etc. In IT we don’t have to belong to a professional body like that to practice but the principle should be the same as if we make mistakes bad things happen – projects slip, system fail and data may be compromised.

So for at least 10 days per annum we should all be taking time out, away from our day jobs to do this just as other professionals do and possibly more as the world we work in is undergoing more change than in other fields. So how might you spend that time?

If you are primarily working on the Microsoft platform then I would suggest the following:

1. Microsoft Virtual Academy. This free training and education from the same team that write Microsoft courseware can be consumed in bite size chunks as many of us won’t be able to take out a solid two week block to do our CPD - more likely it will be and afternoon a fortnight – even if we do get permission to do this. I would also add that if you are taking your career seriously and have acquired a Microsoft Certification like MCSE, you can recertify using MVA instead of sitting and upgrade exam every two years (Note to self: Get that done Andrew!).

2. MSDN Subscription. You can’t possibly understand how stuff works without using it so you are either going to have spare kit lying around which you’ll want to install Microsoft products on to do your learning or you will use a cloud service to spin up VMs and learn that way. Whichever approach you take MSDN gives you licenses and Azure hours every month to do that. If SpiceWorld was anything to go by many IT Pros are already looking seriously at some aspect of Azure and so using Azure itself is what they want to learn.

3. If you have training budget there is no substitute for an instructor leading you through a new subject with a mix of theory. Our TechNet UK run free IT Camps along these lines as well to introduce you to things like Azure and enterprise mobility, but our events are designed to educate and start you on your path to a new subject and necessarily cover a wide area to less depth than on a paid for course.

4. TechNet Virtual Labs, do give you a guided hands on experience but they don’t persist so once you are done the lab is gone, but these can be useful for specific hard to set up scenarios like adfs and advanced networking.

Whatever you decide to do – even to the point of giving up IT and playing golf, you‘ll need to train and you’ll need to practice.

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