Now that we are past Christmas and rapidly approaching the new year, I spent a little time reflecting on the past year over the Christmas break. 2014 has been an amazing year for me both personally and professionally. On a personal level I have a great family (wife and 2 young kids) and we have had a really fun year of holidays, day trips, weddings and general fun and play.
Professionally, I have also had a great year. At this time last year I intended to change my day job from working at Dollar Financial to something else and take the next step up the career ladder. That was a goal of mine going into the new year. I finally made that jump in May 2014 when I took a Development Manager position at Alliance Boots in Nottingham UK.
Shortly after that, something interesting happened which was something I didn’t even consider doing last year. I started talking with Pluralsight in June 2014, went through an interview and then was invited to take part in their audition process. After a lot of work and learning how to record and edit videos, I was accepted as a Pluralsight author in July. I was very excited about this as I had been a customer of their for nearly 4 years prior to this and was always a very big believer in the learning platform that they had created, so to finally become part of the team was amazing.
I knuckled down in August, September and October and really threw myself into producing my first course, which was Developer to Manager. I completed production and editing on the course at the end of October and the course went went into the release queue where it was finally released on November 28th. The course has been performing really well, which is great considering it is a careers course and not a software development course. I have had great feedback from people who have watched the course and it is definitely doing what it set out to do. Help people decide if becoming a manager is right for them, and if so helping them with a 3 month plan to get started in the job.
As I was wrapping up production on the course, another unexpected thing happened. I was introduced to an editor at another company via one of the other Pluralsight authors and after some discussion I signed a book deal. This was with a company called Syncfusion who are a software company that produces user interface libraries for .NET developers. They also release a series of eBooks on different development subjects which they give away for free. The books are designed to be short and succinct technical references and they are a great learning resource. I have now read quite a few of them and they achieve their goal in getting you up to speed on different subjects quickly.
After completing my Pluralsight course, I started work on my first book for Syncfusion, which is called “Cryptography in .NET Succinctly”. I completed the book towards the end of November and at the time of writing I have completed the technical review stage and the book is now being copy edited. I expect it to be released towards the end of January or early February. I am excited by these books as they have a large reach with users due to them being free, so it also works as a great personal marketing opportunity for myself, and whilst I don’t earn royalties on the books, I do get paid a decent fee for writing them, so it is a win-win situation.
Signing to Pluralsight and getting this book contract has been one of the most fulfilling aspects to my career to date. I have a lot of control on what material I produce for these companies, so I get to work on subjects that interest me personally as opposed to just working for another company and doing what they want. The work I am doing here is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. I am going to continue to build up my library of published books and courses and see where that takes me.
I am also going to still focus a lot of attention on this blog. I have worked very hard writing content here for the past 2 years and this has helped open up these other doors for me as I have a good body of written work out there under my name. The readership and traffic stats for the blog have been growing at a nice pace for the past 2 years so I want to take that to the next level.
Going into 2015, I want to try and shift my career focus a little so that I get back closer to writing code day to day so that I have continual experience which will enable me to develop more interesting courses and books. Quite how this will look going forward I am not totally sure at the moment. I do have a few irons in the fire, so we shall see what happens there.
My most immediate goals are to complete my next Pluralsight course which is called “Agile Fundamentals”. This course is about 70% completed and I will try to get this completed by the end of January. I then have a 2nd book to write, which I have already signed the contract for. I will write more information on this nearer the time. I also want to continue my open source work that I have been chipping away at for the past couple of years. I have a few small pet projects that I am working on, and one of them is a little computer game written in WPF to help my daughter with her maths.
If I had to sum up my career goals for 2015 then it would be :
Focus my attention of developing my skills so that I can excel at delivering high quality technical and careers based education / training material.
It is well worth everyone reflecting back on the previous year and working out what you enjoyed and benefited from and what you didn’t enjoy. Then try to make a plan to focus on what you enjoyed. Life is short so you should try to get rid of anything that you don’t like. If that means changing job, then make it your focus to change. Change is good and the new year is an ideal time for change.
I hope you all have a great new year and a successful 2015.