Building Your Career Foundation

We all have foundations in our careers; those skills that let us earn money, the network that finds us a job, the specific knowledges that let us predict trends.  A quick examination of what you do, who you are, and the work you do will quickly make your foundation obvious (or its lack obvious).

Building our career foundation – skills, knowledge, experience, networks – is vital to having a successful life, a fulfilling job, and to achieving what we want to do in life.  However building them is often hard in these changing times.

Let's face it these days (and for the last ten years I'd say) its hard to know what foundations to build.  The computer language you learned may go out of style, the company you work has folded, your network may be scattered to the four corners of the Earth.  Your career foundation may feel more like shifting sands than a firm rock.

With so much instability, its hard to know what career foundations to build.  What skills, people, meetups, classes, and so on do you put time and money into?

The answer?  Simple – it's better to have any decent career foundation than none, because a foundation can be repurposed.

You're going to need a foundation to build your life on – people, skills, experience.  So build it as best you can.  Yes things may change, yes you may get things wrong, but you're better off ramming ahead than spending more time worrying than building and doing.  I can assure you you'll get things wrong, but that's life.

Once you have a foundation of some kind for your career, once you have the abilities and the job and the contacts to move forward, you can then reassess what to change.

Foundations can be repurposed.  That network that helped you in your banking career can help you in your video game career (trust me on this), if you use it right.  The skills you had making spreadsheets for tracking sales statistics can be used to track HR information when you move into training.  That MBA may seem useless in your current company, but that new startup would desperately like someone with your background.

A foundation to your career gives you something to stand on.  Then you can move forward once you have some stability.  You need some place to start.

In fact, you might already have one and not appreciate it.

– Steven Savage