It's 2019 now and people in my network are setting goals for the new year, one goal that I hear periodically is, I want to <insert career goal here>.
Great! I say, having a goal is step one, cause if you aim at nothing you'll hit nothing every time.
Let's dive into this goal a little deeper.
Goal SettingOne goal that comes up often around me is, "I want to work for VMware." I probably hear this goal the most being a VMware Employee. I have discussed this topic many times with multiple people throughout my career with VMware. I have to admit, it was my goal at one point too.
As a mentor, one of the first questions I'll ask you is to take a step back and ask yourself. Why? Why do you want this career goal? Really think about it. Does your why align with the VMware mission, vision, and values?
I spent several years at a hospital architecting, implementing and operating a VMware environment and I loved it, it was a great job. So why leave a great job? Why did I want to join VMware? I wanted to help other organizations become successful with VMware as well. It was time for me to move on and share my knowledge with others. Also, I'll add this is what worked for me, this is not a guaranteed path to successfully getting hired at VMware. There is also, being in the right place at the right time. And networking with the right people.
So, how did I accomplish this goal?
Well, first of all, I needed to develop a plan, because a goal without a plan is just a wish. Also, this plan needs to be very specific and intentional. I've heard statistics that for every 1 job at VMware over 4,000 people apply. Wow! How can I stand out as the 1 person in 4,000? For me, the answer was certifications and networking. When I first started looking to join VMware, I had my VCP 5. That Cert helped me land the job I was currently in, but, looking around at my peers a lot of people had this certification as well. So my first goal was to level up to higher cert where there were fewer people in the "pool". I set my sites on VCAP certifications. This VCAP cert was difficult but attainable, and at the time very relevant to the career I was looking to get into. I also discussed this certification goal with other people in my network. Taking note that very few SE's or TAM's that currently worked for VMware had this VCAP certification either.
Next, I set a time limit on my certification goal. I planned on taking it at VMworld. This time limit meant I had to spend an enormous amount of personal time studying things I had no experience with. My employer at the time only had vSphere Enterprise Plus licensure and Fiber Channel Storage. A large portion of the exam was on features or systems I had no experience with. Including advanced technologies like NFS storage, iSCSI, N-Port ID virtualization, Power CLI, Host Profiles, vSphere Replication, Flash Read Cache etc. The list of things I had no experience with was enormous. Time is finite. I still had to work my day job as a systems engineer. I also had a growing family, with 4 little ones. This meant one thing. I had to to make some sacrifices. Remember at the beginning of this blog. I said I used to be a gamer. I made a choice to spend all my free time diving deep into all things VMware. This meant when my family went to sleep I stayed up and read architecture guides, blog posts, and built and rebuilt a home lab.
This entire process is deep arduous work, and this is where some people stop trying and start limiting themselves. I usually hear completely valid excuses about the lack of time to do this type of work. Don't get me wrong, family life is important. But you also need to be accountable for all of your time. You also need to budget your time wisely. This goal became my focus, my one thing.
A few years ago at a VMware internal conference, there was a special guest speaker that talked about goal setting as well. Her name is Elizabeth Gilbert, during the conference she spoke of her goal of becoming a writer. She was challenged by a person she looked up to with this quote.
"What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?"
Ouch, That one hurts. But she is right, sacrifices must be made. Gaming, TV, Facebook, all must go. You can't be a Top tier Fortnite player and attain career goals at the same time!
Another excuse I've heard is "I'm not good at X or Y, I don't understand it...."
I've never claimed to be a quick learner either. I'd spend countless hours reading documents over and over. Then I'd try it in a lab, and fail, and pour through countless log files looking for errors and in the end, I'd reverse engineer how some of this technology works. One of my co-workers Duncan wrote about this very thing.
"And if that means you need to read that paper about Transparent Page Sharing 18 times… then that is what you do. "
This quote resonates with me deeply, and still applies to me while I'm at VMware. I continue to read and re-read things over and over and pour through logs files and watch VMworld session recordings over and over until I figure it out, and each time I get something new out of it.
Back to that VCAP Exam. Now that I knew when I was going to take it, I needed to ensure that I would pass the exam. I did this by taking many practice exams and measuring my self against the exam blueprints provided by VMware. That year at VMworld I passed and attained this step in my plan. I now stood out in a pool of many, as one of the few with a VCAP certification. This one step opened so many doors. I had countless headhunters sending me messages when I posted that one certification on my LinkedIn profile.
Which leads me to the next step in the plan. Finding that dream job or next career move.
I know several people that have applied for jobs and gone through multiple interviews only to be turned down. Its hard, I've been there too. I applied and interviewed numerous times for a year and a half straight. Each time I was in the final round over and over. This can get you down. But don't give up. Continue to hone your strengths and dive deep into your weakness. But at the same time don't limit yourself to only one path. I know multiple people that say they only want to work for VMware and only apply at VMware. Sometimes you need to take that fork in the road, to get to your ultimate goal. I did, I ended up joining a VMware Partner Reseller for a short period before I received the call from VMware. Don't pass up other opportunities that might eventually lead to your ultimate goal.
Lastly, I want to call out the value of Networking with your friends, peers and the #vCommunity. Networking with others had a MAJOR part in getting me to where I am today. That topic is another whole blog post.
What is your goal this year?
How will you stand out?
What will you give up to attain your goal?
But most of all just go DO IT!!!!
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter.
Notice the Red bolded words: This goal setting method is nothing new Google SMART goals or read about it here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria