How would you feel?
What would you walk away with besides a box?
You always take your experience with you. The question is how much are you taking advantage of the experiences available to you right now?
Think about where you want to be. Are you already at your ideal job or is there something else that would get you more excited to jump out of bed in the morning?
What is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be? Sometimes the gap is experience. Maybe there’s a new technology you want to work with, but you don’t have any experience in that area. What can you do?
Meet your neighbor
For starters, look around at what you have available right now at your job. We often overlook what is right in front of us without realizing it.
Suppose you want to work with “Big Data” and you’ve heard of things like Hadoop but you have no idea beyond that.
Is there anyone who works with Big Data at your company?
Could you get to know people on that team – maybe grab some lunch together or have some water cooler conversations to learn more?
People are the best source of experience and information. You have the best access to the people in your own company. Look around your company. The expert you need to learn from could be sitting just a couple of floors away.
Talking to your manager about your interests or to the manager of the team where you’d like to be can also get the ball rolling for you.
People won’t know what you want unless you speak up and say something.
There could be a need right now on that team you’d like to work on but if you never express interest then the chances of you moving are slim to none.
I talked to one person who got a promotion simply because he told people he wanted one.
If you feel like you could add more value in a different area of your company that is more in line with your talents and interests, start by letting people know who are in a position to help make that happen for you.
Make it a goal
Using goals can work to your advantage as well. Set a quarterly or yearly goal to do something in an area that you want to move toward or with a particular technology you’d like to work with.
Depending on your company this could allow you to schedule part of your time each week to work in that area so you’re actually getting paid to get experience that helps you go where you want to go. You might shadow someone who could become your mentor in that area, or discover a small project you could do on your own.
When a goal involves your interests and is moving you in the direction you want to go, it is much easier to invest some of your own time working toward that goal. Your extra effort benefits the company but it also benefits you in 2 ways.
First, you are putting in extra effort which gets noticed. Bonus for you is that it is much more interesting than just putting in extra time to keep your seat warm.
Second, you are starting to associate yourself with the thing you want to do. As you produce results in that area or even just gain experience, you are moving closer to where you want to be.
Does your company have a subscription to online training courses or online libraries? This can be a great way to get organized, quality information for free.
Some companies will pay for you to take certification exams, books and courses to prepare for exams, or other training classes, events, and conferences.
Find out what is available at your company and start taking advantage of those resources to get the experience you need.
These programs are often underutilized, so if they don’t offer something you need, talk to the person over training at your company and they may be able to help. I’ve seen some companies who had a budget but didn’t know what to spend it on because no one was making requests.
More than a paycheck
You’re not just getting paid to do a job. You’re gaining experience.
Take advantage of the opportunities you have to gain experience where you are right now.
Take advantage of the opportunity you have to network with the people you work with.
Know what resources your company offers and take advantage of them. Seriously, these often go underutilized so speak up and ask for what you want because you will probably get it.
These efforts will help you get the best experience you can where you are at right now and prepare you for the next step.
Because sometimes it’s not just a step.
It’s a jump.
If your next meeting was to say you are no longer with the company, what experience do you wish you would have taken advantage of? Who would you have spent more time with to gain experience? Comment below then go do it!