When it comes to career development, time is a currency that must be spent wisely. I myself am a full-time dad, a full-time network engineer, and that leaves little time for personal endeavors. However we must still allocate time to develop our skillsets outside of work. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Blogs -- These are great sources of information on a variety of topics from like minded individuals. Find a few you like and add them to your RSS feed. Packetlife.net is one I’ve always enjoyed.
Forums -- The Cisco Learning Network is an active online community. I like to use this platform to gain insight into various certifications and niche topics.
Podcasts -- If you commute, make the most of it. Podcasts are a great way to stay current with industry trends and information. From Cisco’s own podcasts to Packet Pushers, there is a wealth of information out there.
Video -- Cisco, YouTube, Pluralsight, and CBT Nuggets are all excellent sources for both free and subscription-based content.
Social Networks -- Twitter is my “go to” social network. You can follow and interact with many of the top people in their respective fields. I find new interesting articles everyday. It’s also a great way to keep a pulse on the industry.
Lab -- This may be an obvious one but labbing is essential in my mind. Score some equipment off eBay and setup shop in your basement or garage if you can. It pays dividends in the learning process.
Pay It Forward -- Lastly, as you become proficient in areas of expertise, give back by blogging or creating content for those new in the field as you once were. Teaching is an excellent way to make sure you truly understand and comprehend a topic.
Remember, good things take time, do good work, savor the journey, and accomplish great things.