Home > Articles > The IT Career Builder's Toolkit, Chapter 2: Career Building Defined

The IT Career Builder's Toolkit, Chapter 2: Career Building Defined

  • Sample Chapter is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Jan 11, 2008.

Chapter 2. Career Building Defined

There are misconceptions about what constitutes a career. For many, a career is simply a string of successive jobs—typically within the same industry or vocational area. I want to challenge this idea and offer a broader definition. My definition, when embraced, opens you to greater flexibility and control over your career. If understood, this definition will remove some of the anxiety associated with those times in which you are not working or advancing in the way or with the speed that you expect.

I define a career in the following fashion:

A career is the ongoing development of skills, attitudes, and relationships that lead you into and through various professional positions and objectives.

What this means is that your career occurs both when you are working and when you are not. You are always involved in your career and its development. This understanding is important (and should be motivating) because you can begin to find value in those activities that occur outside of your job or when you are not working. This helps you realize opportunities to advance skills and relationships that can bring value to your career regardless of the position you hold now or will hold in the future. Hopefully, it prompts you to be more aware and become more proactive in your overall career development.

You will notice throughout this book that I refer to career building. I want the idea of building a career to be ingrained into your mind. Careers and buildings are similar in that they do not normally happen by accident. I will use an analogy of a builder whom you have hired to add a room to your house.

If the rhetorical builder arrived at your house with a bunch of wood, paint, and stucco but no plans, you would justifiably be concerned. If he walked up to the side of your house and began nailing boards together in some haphazard fashion, you would be certain the project was doomed.

Now, it might be that this builder is so accomplished that his innate skills provide him with everything he needs to complete the project without planning. It could work out that what is produced works in harmony with everything else on the house. But I don't think you would count on that.

And yet, with careers, we often do just that. We take one job after another in a particular field (perhaps) but with no plan on what our career should look like when we are finished. It has been my experience that individuals plan their vacations more carefully than they do their careers. But unless you are one of the wealthy elite, you likely will spend much more time working in your career than you will taking vacations.

For some, such planning carries the associated connotation of unyielding rigidity. Newer technologists might claim that it's impossible for them to know which area of technology they want to take their careers without some experimentation. For those who are ready to raise this shout, stop!

Of all people, I am at heart spontaneous. I fully understand the dilemma of the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I was always amazed when children would answer the question with complete assurance of their life's ambition. I, however, still claim I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

I am not implying that your objective in technology necessary be tied to some ultimate unchanging goal. Nor am I against quickly adopting a new course of action. In fact, with the rapid and constant changes in technology, this is one of the benefits of the field. The fact that technology opens the door and allows for change to new skills and avenues for your career makes it exciting and fun.

In fact, let's go back to the example of the builder. For those who have watched or taken part in a building project, you know that changing plans are a constant. Builders get weeks into a project only to have the owner or architect suddenly introduce new plans and features. Add a window here, a door here, and so on. The builder must adopt the new elements into his existing structure and make it look as though it was always part of the plan. Sometimes the builder even has to tear down some of what was built to move forward.

You will do the same with your career. New technologies, opportunities, and desires will force you to continually re-evaluate your career direction. You must be flexible and adaptable. Fortunately, the constant change of technology allows for this.

My goal is to leave you with some skills that transcend the changes in technology. You can use the skills outlined here whether your career takes you from programmer to analyst to manager to consultant or to business owner. In fact, the adoption of these skills will make such transitions much easier and less stressful.

2. The Danger of a Tool-Driven Mindset | Next Section

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020