Ensuring your computer is up-to-date is the mantra of anyone in IT, one not everybody follows when it comes to themselves. As it seems, when we exit college, we're fed up with learning, dismissing any critique on our professional or academic ambitions with a simple "I'll be fine, I'm not stupid". This dismissal might lead up to serious neglect.

When it comes to our world of IT, the world changes every day, keeping up with everything requires effort and a sense of personal responsibility. This is not something "you just do", you have to integrate it with your regular routine. If you find yourself out-of-date, catching-up might prove a completely new challenge on it's own.

So you might find out you're behind the curve, what now? Well, just sitting and letting it all happen may have some serious consequences. You might be having fun doing what you do while the skill set you have is in use, but as soon as it's replaced by the next new hip thing, you might soon find yourself out of a job. Either because you can't keep up, or others can do the same thing but will do it faster (and/or cheaper). Everybody can name examples of whole departments were outsourced elsewhere, with all employees either forced to retrain or simply let go straight away.

Many complain that this is inhumane, arguing that this can be done better, or the outsource shouldn't have happened in the first place. The thing with this argument is, these people themselves were (at least in part), responsible for this happening. They didn't keep their skill set up-to-date, they often cost a lot of money and when someone figured out a cheaper way to solve the problem, they were let go because they couldn't keep up.

When working on shorter projects, you may still suffer from this effect, but in a less dramatic way. Most notably, failing to keep up a year or two, you may find yourself having trouble starting up when you start on a new project. Less dramatic, still frustrating at times.

So then, what to change? A few tips:

  • To ensure you keep up with hip new things, find colleagues with the same ambitions, find people that like to figure out new things,
  • Keep up with news sites or blogs of people that keep up-to-date,
  • Google (or Yahoo or even... Bing) things, check out all the fun new things on the Apache site,
  • If you find something you think is cool, find out what's behind it,
  • Do (theoretical) mash-ups, try to figure out how to put things together,
  • Do stuff, build hobby projects, build things you might possibly use (or things you want to do because you have an itch to scratch).
Something I'd like to note is that, I'm not keeping up as much as I'd like, but I do consciously try to keep up-to-date.