Question 11: What training do I need?
I’ve worked in ICT Support for 4 years and I am looking to gain more skills, education and experience in ICT4D. What training can I take or what formal education programs can position me for promotion? I don’t know where to start.
Ask a different question
Instead of asking what training you need, you may want to start with asking where you want to be in 3-5 years. Once you’ve identified what you want to be doing, where you want to be working, and at what level, you can then start seeking out people who have the job you desire.
Then comes the hard part – asking for informational interviews with them to understand what their day is like, where they see the profession going, and crucially, how they got their position.
In an informational interview, you want to be learning from your interviewee, not selling them on hiring you. You want to learn what they believe are the prerequisites for your dream role.
Once you know prerequisites..
If you ask 20 people and all of them say you need a Masters Degree in artificial intelligence or a doctorate in public health, then you know what your next step is. However, they will most likely say that its a mix of education and experience that is best for promotion – not education or training alone.
I am a big fan of TechChange courses for practical, hands-on learning of key concepts for digital development project management. However, if you need hard-core software development skills, you made want to join one of the many software development boot camps. Overall, I would look for well-known organizations that utilize facilitators that you can Google-trace to their classroom and alumni.
Since you already have a job, you can volunteer for new roles within your organization to get additional experience. Be the person who always says, “yes” to new projects that interest you, and work more and harder to succeed with those projects. This is the easiest way to get more experience.
Another way is to seek out organizations working in your desired areas and find out what their needs are. Then suggest a volunteer consultancy – that is a consulting engagement that is just as rigorous as a paid engagement, but trade exposure and connections for your time, instead of money.
Switching careers is hard
There is no way around the central problem in your question: you wan to switch careers from IT support to ICT4D. It is not impossible, but like any career switch, there will be work and pain involved, and it may take you a year or more to make the transition. However, if you really think it will make you happier with your work life, then its a worthy sacrifice.
It took me two years to make the transition from dotcoms to ICT4D and every minute of the pain (and several rounds of crying over rejections) was worth it for me. I love my work, every minute of it.