It pays the bills…but is that enough?

I’m sure many industries today requires you to have some level of enthusiasm for what you do, but how often don’t you hear a buddy of yours complain about their job…They don’t love what they do and if asked “Why do you do it then?” the answer is most of the time “It pays the bills, why else?”.

I know it’s bad to label people, but sometimes you have to and i have two labels that i apply to people within the IT&T industry.

Those that have a job

Those that have a career

Now, this label, doesn’t have anything to do with being a good or bad employee – all companies needs an equal share of both.

Those that have a job
We all know them – they’re good at what they do, they’re here on time and leave on time. They get by purely by being there and putting their heads down for the required hours. They know their jobs and their worth. In most cases you’d be hard pressed to see this person listen to a podcast or use a book on programming for anything but a reference manual.

Those that have a career
These are the geeks of the office – you know them – sure you do – they don’t stop talking shop and are constantly preaching about this latest beta, or that gadget. They are the ones that stay up late because there’s this product launch being streamed online at 2am. You always find it hard to keep up with them because they seem oblivious to their surroundings and their heads spin at 7500rpm and above.

So, these labels have designated roles within a team – The “Job” guys are there to see the project develops steadily, according to plan – you know, the On Time and On Budget guys. No risk taking here. If you have a whole team of these individuals, you’d quickly see the risk factor lower..well, because they don’t take any chances. Why should they, it’s not their job to take chances. The “Career” guys are constantly wanting to play with the latest and greatest new release and most often willing to take a chance.

Which label are then the best employee type to have? Frankly, you don’t want to have only one or the other. What you need is a healthy balance. The “Job” guys are your worker ants so to speak – they carry the most of the team along at a steady pace BUT they are not innovators. They’ll happily stick with VB6 for the rest of their lives..simply because it “Pays the bills”. The “Career” guys are more often than not pushing the boundaries and driving innovation in your team.

So when do you have to make your choice of which “Label” you want to wear? early…yes, very, very early. With technology as rampant as it is today, it really isn’t hard to loose track of what’s out there, what’s new and what’s coming soon.

I generally advise the graduates to consider what they want to do and put their expectations alongside the “Label” they’re looking to wear. Because honestly, you’re not going to be a Snr. Developer in 4 years time if you don’t apply yourself.

Here I come to my own “Label” – I’m a “Career” person – no, not the one walking around with circular saws on their elbows, nudging every man, dog and cart out of the way because i’m on the floor. I literally love what I do and I invest a large amount of my own time to what is needed – Professional Development. Where’s my frustration with the “Job” guys? yes, you figured right, it’s extremely frustrating when people around you are lacking enthusiasm.

Expectations has to be realistic here – you see your friends achieve more than you because you’re busy with other stuff and can’t really be bothered to put your head into a book or trying out this or that beta release. Yet you still expect that $10,000 payrise every year. It’s simply not fair to you that you don’t get the same opportunities as those “Career” guys. They’re just sucking up all the time.

What are my expectations – well, I expect to be paid appropriately but more important to me is that I honestly love going in to work. The day I don’t have that spring in my step is the day I need to look at other opportunities.

Fact is, you spend the majority of your waking hours at work – why should you not love what you do? I’d say it’s a waste of life.

So, if you have goals and aspirations of being a mover and shaker, think early about what you want to do – don’t sit with a thumb up your @#$ and expect things to be handed to you on a silver plate because it’s a big, big mean world out there. You need to help yourself and to do that you need to invest.

When you hear people moan about “I got no training this last 6 months” you have to wonder what they did themselves to advance their own professional development? I get severely frustrated when i hit that wall with people. Thinking that it’s the employers sole responsibility to make sure you get training? seriously, that’s 10% of the total investment that you should be doing into yourself. The other 90% is your responsibility – don’t forget looking at those blogs, articles, ctp/beta releases, podcasts/webcasts et al is an investment into yourself – does the company gain from it? of course it does, but who benefits the most? yes, yourself of course.

So, get involved guys…get that finger out and start investing into yourself because we know that just paying the bills are no longer enough.