Balancing personal and professional development

I work hard for my for employer, but that is not to say I won’t work
hard for myself.

Call me pretentious, but I believe I am an artist. Not one whose tool is a
paintbrush and easel, but one whose scribe of choice is a keyboard and whose
regional dialect is C#. Okay, so I am a software developer, but that’s no bad
thing even if it is not the sexiest of professions.

As a valued employee, I work hard for my employer. Recently, I have been
putting in long hours to get a hefty web site launched. As with most jobs, my
professional development is limited to the very thin line of opportunity mapped
out by the business in which you work, be it through policy, time or motivation.
As an ASP.NET (thats a Microsoft web technology, by the way) developer, I feel I
regularly tread the same paths in my everyday work. The opportunity rarely
presents itself to really advance my skill set or research alternative

That is not to say I don’t love working where I work. Sure, it can be
frustrating, but there is a certain amount of freedom I am afforded in my
professional and personal development. This freedom is freedom I forge for
myself. In new projects I might be a little ‘naughty’ or mischievous in trying
out new ideas, but I don’t do this for purely selfish reasons. For example, in
my current project, I would spent a couple of days (which were in short supply
on this particular deadline) researching .NET 3.0 and all it promises in terms
of workflow, security and resilience. I see this as initiative as much as cause
for selfish personal development. As it turns out, I failed at the last hurdle,
but not due to reluctance of management to adopt potentially risky new

My personal development doesn’t just occur at work. Indeed, following a days
work, I have to admit to continuing with my own projects. Projects which stretch
my skills by improving my current approaches to problems and introducing me to
new solutions. My employer could argue that this represents a conflict of
interest, but I disagree. This represents an added resource for my employer.
Indeed, this very work has benefitted my full-time job quite recently. As they
say: ‘90% of code is re-used’. And it’s true. Try to convince your manager that
the code you are using is identical to the code from your previous employer
without them twitching about copyright issues. Whether experience or skills are
gained from personal work or previous employment, it makes them no less valid
for the job. Without which, an employer would be stupid to employ you – as
surely, you would have to undergo some Men In Black-style memory erasing
procedure to minimize risk of intellectual property violation.

Moving forward, I have my own personal development programme. This programme, I hope, will see fruition within my current employment and personal work, too. Whether this programme aligns with the requirements of future projects is not yet known, but I will make every effort to ensure that it does. If not for my
employer, then for my CV.

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