How do you keep up with technology? Late nights? Hard work?

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How Gogula Aryalingam, Senior Architect – Data Analytics at Fortude stays on top of his game.

Today’s post is not a technical post. This one is inspired by a question raised at an SLDC meetup.

“How do I keep myself up to date with technology?”

Raised by an attendee who himself, like me specializes in Business Intelligence and Databases especially on Microsoft technologies. However, his job has strayed him from the path of his core skills and was concerned about the amount of learning that is required to catch up with the latest technology trends. So back to the question, “how do you keep yourself updated?” and I know that this is a question that lingers in the minds of many.

My answer to him was: “Nights.” but I think the right answer should have been: “Passion”.

In technology, I feel, one should have passion. Not the type of “passion” you see on every other CV describing the CV’s owner; but real, undying love for the type of technology you work with. “But I do have passion” some retort when I ask for demonstrable passion from interviewees, “I came up with a great idea for a dashboard for my client, and built this really awesome dashboard that won my organization a lot of praise” — That’s not passion, that’s just doing your job; That’s what you are supposed to be doing. “But I really really love to work with SQL Server” they’d say; then show me something that showcases it, I ask, something beyond just doing your job. Most of the time I don’t get a good response. Well, if you have the passion you need to go beyond what it takes.

Let’s bring in an analogy. Marriage.

You could marry either because you decide you need to settle down, have a husband/wife to take care of you, and start a family with; or because you are really, madly, deeply in love with someone, and you want to spend your life with that person doing every crazy, stupid thing you ever wanted to do. Passion for technology, for me, is the latter option.

You need to go beyond the great job you do at work, and explore the technology more.

Experiment → try new things → fail → fail again → read → learn → succeed → experiment more → teach → write → evangelize.

But all this in your own time: A couple of hours in the night, an evening on the weekend, on game night, on a Friday night when you should be drinking the wee hours away, one day of your vacation… It takes a little bit of sacrifice, but it does pay off.

Once you go through a process such as this, you will have a revelation; people start calling you an ‘expert’, you see opportunities in your career that you never saw before, you get opportunities that you never dreamed of before — It has for me. Several times.

All those people who I know, who are passionate about technology, do the things they do because it comes from within, either because they are hardwired like that, or they have come to realize the importance of cultivating good ‘tech habits’.

If you were wondering, what these people do; well, here are a few things:

Read. That’s the starting point. Read documentation, blogs, white papers to understand more.

Experiment. Try out tutorials, or scenarios of your own. Don’t just stop there; put your code into a repository such as Github; you can easily pull these out to showcase in an interview.

Write about your experiments, take notes and start a blog to share your learning with the world (and also to showcase at interviews).

Talk about your research and experiments; organize a tech talk for your team, or your organization, or be a little bold and speak at a local community event — you will eventually become known in the technology community, and the technology will automatically get associated with you. The more you write about something, and the more you speak about something; the more you understand it and the more that others associate you with it.

So, go ahead and work on it. Do it now. It’s hard at first. Persevere and, it will pay off. I promise.

Author:
Gogula Aryalingam
Senior Architect – Data Analytics

Gogula is a database and business intelligence professional with 12 years on the Microsoft data platform. He is an MVP, MCSE, former MCT and an MSc in IT. He currently works as a Senior Architect for Data Analytics at Fortude.