Five Ways IT Workers Can Stay Professionally Fit

Practical advice on keeping abreast of changes and making career progress

4 April 2018

The following is an excerpt of Murgesan’s article “Stay Professionally Fit, Always,” which was published in the November/December issue of IT Professional.

With the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things, our dependence on IT will only intensify. These areas present new opportunities as well as challenges and risks for IT professionals.

I offer five ways for IT workers to stay professionally fit and to succeed and thrive in this dynamic environment.

  1. Stay abreast of ongoing developments.

    Today’s IT professionals are overwhelmed with too much information to comprehend and too many tools to be familiar with. They must continue to stay on top of advances in IT, novel applications, new challenges and issues, and potential new opportunities. Never stop learning.

  2. Be innovative and address real-world problems.

    Identify and understand the promises, capabilities, and limitations of various technologies and embrace them in applications that address real problems facing society. The United Nations has come up with 17 sustainable development goals it says will transform the world. IT is likely to play a major role in attaining them.

  3. Address new threats and concerns.

    IT professionals are expected to embrace technology’s benefits, but they also are required to address new and ongoing challenges facing systems such as cyberthreats, privacy concerns, scalability and resilience issues, increased complexity, and environmental impact. IT professionals should be able to identify and assess the problems to address them adequately.

  4. Embrace ethical design.

    The advent of artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, cognitive computing, and self-driving vehicles has turned society’s attention to the ethical aspects and societal implications of emerging applications that embrace these technologies. The ethical and moral aspects and potential societal impact need to be considered when conceiving and designing applications. To find out what IEEE is doing, read The Institute’s special report on ethics in engineering.

  5. Cultivate soft skills.

    IT professionals must build management and decision-making skills as they progress in their career journey. They also must develop good communication and presentation skills, which will be critical throughout their career. Moreover, they should cultivate other soft skills such as problem identification and solving, critical observation, aptitude for learning, adaptability, and effective teamwork.

Meeting all these requirements is not easy and calls for passion, commitment, and a personal strategy that is in tune with your personal preferences and habits.

IEEE Senior Member San Murugesan is a former editor in chief of IT Professional and a member of The Institute’s editorial advisory board. He is the director of Brite Professional Services and an adjunct professor at Western Sydney University, in Australia.

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