Perhaps the greatest challenge of all computer professionals is the ability to train and retrain in order to keep up with the pace of change. This change in the working environment affects all areas of employment, but it has a particular impact on the Information Technology Sector, since it makes training and retraining a requirement rather than a luxury. The "half-life" of a Computer Science degree is about 6 months, which means that after 6 months of work, everything the graduate has learned is out-of-date. However, the skills learned should enable a graduate to keep herself or himself adaptable. Many executives in the business world also claim that a liberal arts background helps people to learn quickly and adapt to change. Whatever your approach, it is vital that your skills are up to date. There are various ways to do this including the following:
Networking Professionals retool themselves in many ways, including taking classes, going to seminars or exhibitions, reading, and joining a professional association, interest group, or club. Managers and users, especially those in organizations distributing their computing systems and giving more responsibility for managing distributed systems to user departments, may also find these approaches effective for staying on top of changes.
A wide variety of options exists for people who want to take classes in networking related areas. Many companies, for instance, hold classes on networking technologies for their employees. Classes can also be taken at a university, college, or technica1 school either for a degree or for continuing education. Training is available from vendors in areas such as object-oriented development in client/server networks, multimedia applications in networks, rightsizing, remote computing, and a variety of other areas. Such vendor-sponsored training can be an excellent way for network professionals to develop and maintain niche expertise.
In these fast-paced times, going to seminars provides an excellent opportunity for professionals to be aware of new technology especially in their areas of expertise. Courses taken at a University or a college are likely to be broad, and sometimes limited by the equipment available. A one-, two-, or three-day seminar can provide a quick, in-depth look at a specific networking technology, perhaps one so state-of-the art that it has not yet been fully integrated into academic curricula. Often, one can find out which seminars are being given in an area by checking the trade publications, checking with local hotels, or getting on the mailing list of a company that gives seminars around the country. Increasingly, Seminars are being publicized in newspapers and trade publications.
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