Setting Your Career Goals for 2003

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Can you believe that we are here again? The beginning of a new year. Time to reflect on 2002 and time to plan for 2003. With our busy schedules, we seldom afford ourselves the luxury of looking forward, taking the necessary time to sit quietly to plan and strategize. Well, I invite you to do just that for the next 15 to 20 minutes as we set your career strategy for 2003. Note of warning: You may find yourself coming back to this exercise over the next few weeks as you continue to focus your goals. Invest the time!

A Recap of 2002


Most people will agree with me that although we couldn’t imagine how it could possibly get worse after Sept. 11, it did, especially for IT professionals. The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) downgraded the number of open IT jobs, and IDC revised its IT spending forecast. On an individual level, it may have meant a forced job change, no pay increase and no career advancement, because you decided to weather the storm (recession) by staying put. Regardless of your circumstances, there’s a lot to be learned from reflecting on the past. For our first exercise, I’d like you to recall some of the lessons you’ve learned this past year by answering the following questions:




1.                    What was the one technical skill you wish you had that would have made you more valuable to your organization in 2002?


2.                    As budgets got tighter and organizations were forced to make hard decisions, what one lessondid you learn on how decisions are made, and what was the organizational capacity to manage this change?




You may be wondering, why these questions? Your answer to the first question should help you determine the technical skills you should focus on in 2003. The answer to the second question will help you build a contingency plan for weathering hard times in the future. If you were affected by change of this nature in 2002, how can you best prepare yourself so that you’re not caught off guard in the future? For example, how can you recognize the warning signs that your organization is going through hard times? How financially and professionally ready are you for dealing with this situation?




Looking Ahead to 2003


Now it’s time to look ahead. There are lots of signs that times will be better for IT departments in 2003. The best part is the beginning of a new budget year—one that was built from a very conservative perspective rather than being built in a boom year. For IT professionals, that means fewer unexpected changes, more job security and even a renewed focus on new projects for driving organizational efficiency.




The approach we’ll take is to start off with long-term goals and work backwards, starting with the end in mind and building the tactical plans to achieve it. This approach is very similar to how financial planners help you put together a retirement plan. Your career is an important part of that retirement plan.




1.                    In five years, do you see yourself in a management or a line position? Do you see yourself progressing through a career where at some point you will trade in your technical skills for people skills by joining the management ranks, or do you strive to be the premier expert in your field (security, Web development, convergent technologies)? What title do you strive to have at this time (CIO, director of IT, systems architect, DBA)?


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