Managing your isn't an entitlement

What are you doing to manage your career?

What are your professional goals and what are you doing to make them become a reality?

How will you avoid career obsolescence?

I've raised this topic with IT staffs before. Sometimes it provokes a defensive response. What do I mean? Are there plans to outsource us? Am I trying to convey a veiled 'Dear John' message?

No, but I am suggesting--rather overtly--that you think about your career plan. Just because you're here and have a job, benefits and a fair amount of job security does not mean things can't happen down the road. Higher education is entering a period of much greater accountability. The cost of college is too great not to. Constituents will challenge us to prove our value, to cut our costs, to look at outsourcing and other possibilities. Consequently, you cannot rest on your laurels or succumb to a sense of entitlement. You must continually reinvent yourself and be ready for what's coming.

I've seen this happen to others. Technology workers do comparatively well on the pay scale. Yet over time and a career, higher salaries (and 45% benefits!) demand greater accountability. As we remain with our organizations longer, and our pay increases, and we do not continue to add more value and grow, we become vulnerable, especially those of us in the technology field. We can, and may, be outsourced if and when our services can be delivered at less cost by outsourcing.

Don't panic. Be realistic. There are many career strategies you can implement to keep yourself current. Make a plan. Set goals and start taking steps in that direction.

Consider what type of training you need. Often times technology workers tend to focus on, well, technology training. That's important. So, too, are developing some of the 'softer' skills, like writing and communication, project management and team development. We will also need leaders for tomorrow. How many of you would be willing to take a management role? MBA anyone? You might also take a look at some of the Continuing Education programs offered through UNH. They have a good program on managing and leadership.

Never assume that your career plan is PSU's responsibility. While we have an interest and will do what we can, it would be a grave mistake to assume that the organization will carry you through to age 65. Leadership and management are more transient, hence you can never depend on anything over a period of time.

It's YOUR career. If you don't take charge of it, you have no one to blame but yourself.


A couple of books you might find useful... The World is Flat and JobShift. The former gives a more macro view. The latter is good for looking at your career as You, Inc.

Paperless? Environmentally friendly? Hardly.

I met with a group of students recently to discuss technology; where we are now, the challenges in funding, and where we want to be in 2-3 years. They shared a number of valuable perspectives.

One issue that bubbled up that concerns me greatly. Students use our public clusters a lot. Whether to jump online between classes, more in-depth surfing or writing papers, the convenience is obvious. But they also seem to flock to computer clusters for the printing. They can write on their own computers, but they like to print on campus printers. And why wouldn’t they? We provide a large printing quota that, if exceeded, can be increased by a simple request.

Students can print at will. Print a draft, or two or three, then final copies. They are sometimes required by instructors to print several copies of their papers for distribution in class to others. It is not uncommon to see hordes of paper printed and often discarded to recycle bins just as quickly.

The cost of printing is yet another matter. Reams upon reams of paper are consumed. Toner cartridges are replaced often. High volume printers need replacement parts and have to be upgraded every few years. It is one person’s job to keep pace with daily printer needs around campus.

The promise of a paperless world is a concept unproved. In fact, it seems that we are printing more than ever. I understand. While I spend a lot of time reading online, it is still easier and quicker to have that paper in hand.

However, there is a cost to that convenience. And as I preach, change is about modifying behavior.

We are a ‘green’ campus. We promote environmentally friendly themes. This is an area of conspicuous consumption we could address.

How? First raise awareness. Help the campus understand the cost and impact to the environment. Then, engage discussion among faculty, talk about how can we use the technology tools at our disposal to work more online and demote rampant printing. Finally, place appropriate signage and information about printing in the labs.

The funding we save over time would be significant. And we would practice what we preach as environmentalists.