September 5, 2018 • Henry Thedieck
How to Keep Your Skills Sharp: IT Professional Development Opportunities for Richmond Tech Pros
The Richmond IT market has been seeing consistent growth, with employment for IT and computer professionals slated to grow 13% by 2026 across the nation. As new opportunities begin to present themselves in the region, competition for roles is bound to be fierce. Now is the perfect time to start sharpening those technical skills that you haven’t brushed up on in a while. Here are the best opportunities in the Richmond area for IT professional development.
Expand Your Network
Did you know that more than 70% of positions in today’s market are filled through professional networking? Your dream IT role could be one degree of separation from you as we speak. Luckily, Richmond’s booming tech scene makes it easy to find local events and groups that are held strictly for the purpose of meeting other local professionals.
Users groups are an excellent place to refine your technical skills while making connections in the area. Richmond Java Users Group (RJUG) hosts monthly forums for the Java community. They encourage all technologists to attend their events, from enthusiasts looking to learn a new language to individuals with professional-level skills. Typically, they discuss trends and best practices for software development. Another great resource is the Richmond SQL Server Users Group (RichmondSQL). They organize networking events that focus on database design and development, performance tuning and troubleshooting, business intelligence, and SQL server administration.
Pursue Further Education
As they say, knowledge is power. And when it comes to competing with the top tech minds in the area, one of the best ways to set yourself apart is by learning new valuable skills. Continuing education opportunities, like the Information Systems programs at the University of Richmond, provide affordable courses to refresh old skills or develop new ones. With the ability to take courses online or on-site at their Richmond campus, the flexible classes can be taken on your own time. They offer students the ability to earn undergraduate degrees, get IT certifications, and receive career guidance.
Using free online resources as refresher courses or to stay on top of new trends can also prove beneficial. Codeacademy offers classes in 12 programming and markup languages, including Python, Ruby, Java, and CSS. While the initial offerings are free, for more in-depth courses, Codeacademy also offers a Pro account for $19.99 a month that delves deeper into each topic. Similarly, EdX is a massive open resource that grants users access to university-level courses from schools like MIT and Harvard. The courses are free to take with an additional charge for an official certification.
Volunteer Your Expertise
While one can argue that there’s no such thing as too much knowledge, there may come a time where you feel like taking classes or networking with your peers is no longer elevating your career. That doesn’t mean that your work towards career-betterment is complete. Instead of becoming the student, volunteer to step-in as the teacher. Host educational learning opportunities for less-developed technologists looking for guidance.
You can start by creating a meetup group and sharing it with your network. Host consistent weekly or monthly events in a local library or coffee-shop and use the time to share presentations, discuss current trends, or even just serve as an asking board for up-and-coming professionals. By serving as a teacher or mentor, you can communicate key concepts, share ideas, and inspire conversation in others. Developing your thought-leadership skills significantly increases your value and has the ability to propel your career to new heights if executed correctly.
Keeping Your Skills Sharp Through IT Professional Development Opportunities
Regardless of the next step that you’re hoping to take in your career, it’s critical to prepare yourself with knowledge and experience. Well-rounded candidates always come out on top. By taking a little extra time out of your everyday life to study new material, attend a networking event, or host a presentation, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success.
Interested in learning more about professional development opportunities in the Richmond area? Connect with our team.