What No One Tells You About Your Technology Career When You’re 22

Unfortunately, when you walk across that stage and pick up your diploma, no one’s on the other side handing you a guidebook for navigating your career. And this is especially true in the rapidly evolving field of tech. The technologies, the players, and the skills needed change fast, and it’s up to each of us to explore, learn, and succeed—and in the process, discover the path that works best for us.

You’re in Charge of Your Career

It sounds harsh, but nobody will ever care as much about your career as you will. Sure, a good manager might help you develop skills or identify promising opportunities, but at the end of the day it is up to you to make sure that you’re doing work that is meaningful and challenging.

Whether you want to move up at your company, change jobs or industries completely, or just work on more exciting projects, you’ll need to take accountability for your career goals. Have conversations with your boss, mentors, and other contacts about projects and experiences that matter to you, and go after them wholeheartedly.

If You Aren’t Growing, You’re Obsolete

In any fast-moving industry, if you aren’t constantly picking up new skills, you’ll quickly become obsolete. Software engineers know this all too well, as new coding languages and frameworks come onto the scene regularly. (Just think, not even 10 years ago, mobile development was a niche market!)

So, it’s important to regularly ask yourself: Are you staying on top of industry trends? Do you have a learning plan for your career? If not, take the time to create one by seeking out the resources you need, including books, courses, and new projects at work that will require you to learn additional skills. Most importantly, don’t rely on your company to get you all the training you need. Again, you’ll need to take it upon yourself to continue evolving your skills.

You Have to Look for Your Next Job When You Don’t Need It

Given the rapidly changing pace of the technology landscape, there are always new opportunities that you can take advantage of to advance your career and better use your skills, both within your company and elsewhere. Unlike many other industries that stay stagnant, you’ll discover entirely new exiting and new job roles being created on a regular basis.

So keep an eye out for them, and not just when you’re looking for a new position. Don’t wait until you are sick and tired of your work to do something different. Take the time to cultivate a strong professional network, stay in touch with them regularly and often, and learn about and put yourself up for work that excites you. This will lead the job opportunities to you, instead of you having to go out and find them.