In September of last year I wrote a column “Entrepreneurship can help you find a job”. Here is a real life example of this concept in action.
Before being given the opportunity to do new things (becoming unemployed), David Asher was a technical product manager in the telecom equipment industry. His challenge is common to many technology professionals faced with finding a mid-career position – companies are only looking to hire the candidate that has exactly the technology experience to be productive on the first day at work. In the world of technology, those domain requirements change very quickly!
Like all others in David’s situation, his ultimate goal is to find a new job. Unlike many others, however, David took a two sided approach to his job search. First, was a traditional job search including writing a great resume, face-to-face networking at various professional associations and job searching venues, and all the other required activities of a well constructed job search. Second, and the thrust of this week’s blog, David also took advantage of his current predicament to expand his technical skill set, and thus expand his professional marketability.
After the commensurate research and soul searching, David decided that he wanted to expand his hands-on technical ability and business knowledge in the area of Android and iPhone based cross-platform software development, deployment, and its related social media marketing. In essence, he made the conscious decision to learn the mobile app industry from the bottom up, not just through research, but by doing. David wanted to actually build a mobile app, deploy it, and market it. This doing, rather than just researching, had the following advantages:
• It gave his research into mobile app development a purpose • It gave David hands-on experience building a cross-platform based mobile app and thus deep understanding of the issues, trials, and tribulations of mobile app software development. • It provided hands-on experience on the deployment, marketing, and business side of the mobile app industry. • It resulted in a demonstrable software product to show to prospective employers as a showcase of his technical abilities, understanding of the mobile app business arena, and his self-starting and entrepreneurial nature. • It allowed David the ability to participate in, rather than just observe, how the mobile app business place operates.
To make David’s plan a reality, he first needed to decide what mobile app to develop. After additional research, analysis, and networking, David found a partner that wanted to publish his travel guide as a mobile app. It was easy to generalize this problem into one of exploring customized maps from a smartphone. Getting out and meeting people from different communities proved to be a critical step in finding a unique problem to be solved.
When designing and building this mobile app, David felt that if the app was to be a valuable learning experience then he couldn’t treat it like a science project to play with, it had be designed and built as an industrial strength and fully functional software application. He felt that this personal requirement of high quality, full functionality and professional level marketing would greatly enhance his learning experience. To this end, his efforts included the following activities:
• Do the appropriate market research to determine a feature set. • Research various cross-application mobile software development tools. • Select the appropriate development tool for the defined problem. • Gain a software developer’s understanding of how to use the selected development tool. • Build, unit test, and beta test the app. • Develop and implement a marketing plan including social media, various entrepreneurial forums, etc. • Do all this while conducting a high energy and comprehensive traditional job search.
As you can expect, this dual track of job search and entrepreneurial venture is keeping David quite busy. Well, it is keeping him very busy. But when looking at it from a professional growth perspective, David is making a big investment in his professional future.
As of the posting date of this blog, David has just released his mobile app called Map Explorer and posted it on Google Play, and also released its source code to the developer community on GitHub. He is still in search of the right job, but has already found that LinkedIn searches and profile views have increased 2x-3x, and is starting to get recruiter calls relating to mobile apps. I’m sure it will not be long before David is once again gainfully employed. He can be found at LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/davidasher.
In closing, I would just like to say that I decided to write about David because I feel that there is a lesson here for us all. The lesson is that a lost job, while traumatic and painful at best, can also provide the opportunity to grow professionally and help set the foundation for an even more successful professional future. When trying to translate this experience to your own situation, you may not need to build a mobile app – the possibilities may range from creating a blog, writing a book, creating learning presentations, almost anything that creates something new of value; and you may want to start while you’re still in that cozy job!
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.