As Indians, we are famous for paying a lot of attention to our academic growth and grades. There is a lot of emphasis on getting into a good educational institution and passing with good grades in order to get a job.
This approach is especially common among engineering students. But what happens after they land a full time job in an IT firm? Many employees lose track and become carefree once they have a job. This approach not only severely impacts professional growth, but can also result in the loss of a job.
Finding success in your IT career isn’t complicated. Here are few simple unwritten rules that can help anyone flourish and succeed as an IT professional in India.
Humility and Tolerance Toward All
New joiners should be polite and humble when dealing with colleagues, regardless of what career level one joins in at. As time passes, there is a tendency to become so involved in our projects that we drift away from this approach of politeness and humility to our colleagues. Proper respect and conduct can diminish even further as we grow in our professional careers and climb the ladder of success. Don’t let yourself fall victim to this tendency.
To make any project a success, you’ll need the support of all individuals involved. Being overly authoritative can severely impact your work and hamper your reputation irrespective of career level. I’ve even seen a few instances where a vigilant human resource section, in response to the grievances of junior-level employees, has rolled senior-level employees off of a project on grounds of illegitimate supervision. Kindness and humility towards others is always a wise approach.
Sharpen Technical Skills and Upgrade Knowledge
IT companies are all about technology — hence the term “information technology.” The technical ability of employees is the driving force, and also the raw material, used by tech firms to develop and sell their products and services. Hence, it’s imperative for anyone who wants to grow in the IT industry to continually upgrade one’s knowledge of IT. Being current and certified is not only a boon to you as an IT professional, but to your employers as well — they can use your experience and knowledge of various technologies and products as selling points to customers.
The world of IT networking is a prime example of Indian IT pros keeping their skills sharp and current. In the networking realm, the pace of change is fast and furious. Successful networking professionals regularly invest time and money in earning certifications in different technologies. Keeping your skills sharp and up-to-date will be indispensable to your IT career.
Particularly in the software domain, there are a great many engineers well versed in coding languages such as Java, C++, and ASP.net (as well as a host of other acronyms). Few of them, however, get the desired attention and center stage recognition that they truly deserve. This is because most have weak communication skills, or are not expressive enough to convey their point of view to a client.
Knowing the technology and being able to communicate is good, but still not enough, you have to be able to express challenges and solutions to the client in a clear, concise manner that inspires confidence. If your supervisor or any other mediator conveys your point of view, that is good, but it doesn’t gain you exposure. Sometimes you just have to speak up. Just remember to do so in a humble fashion (see the first rule above).
I once worked on an IT team where the lead was technically very proficient but introverted. He never took part in group activities or client interactions. His preferred method of responding to technical queries was via email or chat. Simultaneously, we had another lead with only average technical skills. He was extroverted, however, mentored team members, deftly dealt with clients and seemed involved and easily approachable.
The latter got a promotion and relocation to the U.S. main office. while the former is still serving at the same level. Learning to communicate, to express your ideas clearly and concisely, can be invaluable to you IT career.
Whenever a new project begins, there is initially a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about the work. Gradually, as things unfold, work sometimes becomes monotonous and uninteresting. This is common with Indian companies handling projects outsourced from foreign clients — the projects have a limited scope, since critical sections are not outsourced.
For example, many foreign IT companies outsource network monitoring projects, but retain the sexy leadership and management roles. This limits opportunities for growth and development, and can easily create negativity. Don’t let that happen.
Regardless of the project, you must not feel uninterested, and should always maintain a positive frame of mind. You never know when you might get rewarded. I once saw a foreign company, in partnership with a local IT firm, reward an employee for good work by not only offering a job, but a lead position as well. Sustaining a desired level of interest and keeping your spirits high is usually a game changer.
Know Your Limitations
It’s good to be confident, but at the same time one must be realistic. Often new employees, in their eagerness to please, accept tasks without fully thinking through the requirements. Be careful when volunteering that you don’t take on more than you can handle. Carefully consider whether or not you have the capability or expertise to complete assigned tasks in a satisfactory and timely manner.
Of course you want to impress the boss and prove your worth. Consider what may happen, however, if you fail to meet the deadline or bollix the assignment. The anticipated positive response can easily turn into a negative experience that leaves a bad taste for everyone. Rather than trying to impress your boss, focus on making steady progress in your assigned tasks.
It’s better to have a steady approach and be patient rather than try to deliver something out of the box and in quick succession without proper planning. If you take a calculated approach within limitations, good things will happen sooner or later, without unnecessary risk of disappointment.
Manage your Boss
In Indian IT companies, where politics seems to always play a role, your professional growth, salary, bonuses and everything else, depends on how well you manage your boss. This doesn’t mean that you have to bow down to the boss and blindly agree to everything he (or she) says. It simply means knowing your boss well.
You can get to know your boss, and what they like or dislike, through frequent interactions. When appropriate, seek feedback on your performance and ideas for improvement. If there are concerns, sort them out in an organized manner. You can disagree with the boss on any particular topic, but don’t keep any grudges or hard feelings.
Here’s a small story to outline the importance of knowing your boss well:
Ashish and Rahul both worked for a product based company. While Rahul’s work was always appreciated by the Boss, Ashish regularly faced criticism at work. The difference in treatment was based on the fact that Rahul sought regular guidance and advice before submitting project reports. Ashish, meanwhile, preferred to work as an individual contributor without any intervention.
Eventually, Ashish grew to consider the Boss’ behavior as favoritism toward Rahul. He developed a grudge against the Boss and failed to ask his opinions and input on projects. This happened because Ashish failed to understand his Boss’ criticism, since he never sought feedback on his work. On the year-end performance review, Rahul was promoted while Ashish was tagged as an underperformer and asked to leave the organization.
IT jobs are complicated, but can be simplified by following these six rules. You may not be assured of finding success, as there are many factors involved. Living by these rules, however, can certainly increase the likelihood of your building a successful IT career.