How I Invest in My Career: Podcasts

Staying relevant in a sea of constant change is a challenge that as an IT professional I face every day. The technology industry is constantly evolving and changing around me and requires that I keep my skills evergreen and my mind open. If I don’t, I may find myself without a chair when the music stops playing.

Over the last year I have discovered a whole new medium for keeping up with my technical readiness – and that’s through podcasts. I subscribe to a dozen or so podcasts via my smartphone that consist of audio or video recordings that last anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. I have developed a new habit of rather than listening to music while walking the dog, or working out (or even while sitting on an airplane) – I listen to these podcasts. It’s a great way to quickly stay up to date on various topics.

Here’s a list of podcasts that I subscribe to, that are professionally produced by Microsoft in either video or audio form (click the URL to see the iTunes podcast site to subscribe to)

Azure:

Azure Friday (video):
Join Scott Hanselman every Friday as he engages one-on-one with the engineers who build the services that power Microsoft Azure as they demo capabilities, answer Scott’s questions, and share their insights. Follow us at: friday.azure.com.

Microsoft IT:

Microsoft IT Showcase (video):
Get an insider’s view of the Microsoft enterprise IT environment. See how Microsoft uses technology to solve specific business problems and manage its own global environment.

Everything Microsoft:

Microsoft Mechanics:
Made for tech enthusiasts and IT professionals. Expanded coverage of your favorite technologies across Microsoft; including Office, Azure, Windows and Data Platforms. We’ll even bring you broader topics such as device innovation with Surface, machine learning, and predictive analytics.

Microsoft 365:

Modern Workplace: Modern Workplace Podcast is a thought-leadership series that features expert perspectives from some of today’s most successful visionaries, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and thought-leaders. From issues ranging from privacy to data security to tackling how millennials are changing the collaboration styles of the workforce, Modern Workplace provides insights on how organizations can stay ahead of an ever-evolving workplace.

Office 365 Update Series: Office 365 is under a constant state of change and keeping up-to-date can be a challenge. The Office 365 Update series covers recent or planned changes to the service (and related offerings). The complete written transcripts along with links to all the content referenced are available at http://aka.ms/o365update-transcripts.

Additionally, here are other technology focused podcasts I enjoy subscribing to:

Windows Weekly:
A weekly look at all things Microsoft, including Windows, Windows Phone, Office, Xbox, and more, from two of the foremost Windows watchers in the world, Paul Thurrott of Thurrott.com and Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft. Records live every Wednesday at 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific/ 19:00 UTC.

The Vergecast:
The Vergecast is your source for an irreverent and informative look at what’s happening right now (and next) in the world of technology and gadgets. Hosted by Nilay Patel and Dieter Bohn, alongside a cavalcade of tech luminaries, Vergecast is the only podcast you need to make sense of the week in tech news. And your life.

TedTalks Technology:
Some of the world’s leading inventors and researchers share demos, breakthroughs and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.

What podcasts do you subscribe to? Let me know in the comments below.

How I Invest in My Career: Modern Workplace

Staying relevant in a sea of constant change is a challenge that as an IT professional I face every day. The technology industry is constantly evolving and changing around me and requires that I keep my skills evergreen and my mind open. If I don’t, I may find myself without a chair when the music stops playing.

I am starting a new mini-series of blog posts where I will share my story of how I keep my skills sharp both technical and non-technical. The habits I have developed over my career, the resources I use, the “insider baseball” if you will of how I ensure I continue to invest in my career and how the return on those investments pay off. I hope that by reading this you will feel inspired with new and fresh ideas of how you can keep your skills sharp. Yes, training and readiness to improve your skills is an investment just like a retirement account or a savings account – and you’ll need it someday.

In this first post, I’d like to share with you a resource that I follow frequently from Microsoft called Modern Workplace. This is a monthly video series professionally produced by Microsoft that helps to keep me up to date on new technology and business innovation. The episodes consist of interviews with thought leaders from around the industry that share insights and overall, useful information that I can reuse every day in my job. Also, this series includes free ebooks and whitepapers where you can continue the learning through in-depth material. What’s impressive is that it’s been nominated for four regional Emmy awards!

 

How I use this resource:

Each episode offers very interesting perspectives and content and last about 30 minutes or so with topics ranging from GDPR to Cyber Intelligence to Data Defense and even tours of a Microsoft data center. I enjoy the broad range of topics as it enables me to exercise my growth mindset and learn something new. One of the new things I learn from this are the industry trends which I take back and incorporate into my daily conversations with peers and into my work. There’s even a community where you can discuss with others.

I’ll typically take notes in a OneNote notebook of each episode. You may wonder why do this? For me, this helps to retain the information and enables me to focus without distraction (typically on a Saturday morning or late at night) I also enjoy looking up previous notes as time goes on when I want to reference something. What’s interesting is that I find myself constantly referencing these notes in my daily job and applying what I learned from these videos all the time.

My other secret weapon is that I really enjoy podcasts, and being able to download episodes of Modern Workplace as a podcast to my smartphone makes life easier (see details on the website). If I am feeling restless, sometimes instead of watching the video I’ll listen to the podcast while working out or walking the dog. Sure I can’t take notes, but I’ll usually go back and watch the video again anyway.

Recommended Episodes:

There’s a lot of content to consume with this resource. When you register you’ll receive an email notification when new episodes are made available. In the mean time while you’re waiting for a new episode to be published, here’s a list of episodes I highly recommend watching. I recommend them because again, I find myself using this content almost every day when I speak with customers, partners, other IT professionals and even family and friends about technology and the impact it has on our lives.

I’m curious, what are resources you use to keep your skills up to date? Do you watch Modern Workplace, and if so what are your thoughts?

Enjoy!

–Matt

Invest in yourself. Invest in your technical readiness

Throughout my career as an IT professional, I have witnessed many different technology trends within the enterprise and as a result I have always had to adapt to ensure I was able to effectively plan/deploy/operate them. I had to attend professional training courses, hands-on labs, write certification exams, participate in user groups and a myriad of other techniques to ensure my skills are kept evergreen and enabled me to perform effectively. One thing is clear, working in IT there will always be change in the type of technology being used and to remain competitive having skills in that technology is paramount. This is more true than ever with the advent of cloud technologies and the rapid pace at which those technologies are being updated.

Recently, a new tool has come into my life that made this readiness journey easier and more accessible than ever. Rather than attempting to source online training courses, hands on labs, videos, on-demand sessions from conferences, etc, there is now a tool that unifies those sources in a single place. That tool is Microsoft Tech Academy.


With Microsoft Tech Academy, I have access to a centralized repository of readiness content and can track my progress as I complete the content. This is valuable in not only ensuring I complete each piece of content, but also to report my own readiness status back to my management (and add to LinkedIn). At the time of this writing, there are 23 “pathways” I can choose from ranging from Office 365 ProPlus:Deployment and Management to OneDrive for Business to Microsoft Graph to Office 365 Administration and more. Inside a pathway you will find a description and a learning outcome, that will give you expectations of what you will learn and as a result what you will be able to do with the information you just learned.

Note: This content is automatically sourced across 16 sources such as Microsoft Mechanics, Microsoft Technical Documentation, Microsoft Virtual Academy, EdX,etc.

Example of a pathway:


On the left side of the screen, clicking on My Workspace
displays a collection of pathways I have bookmarked, along with a “study schedule” that allows me to define deadlines and the appropriate courses in a to-do window. A very nice way to stay organized when going through the training content.

Example workspace:


On the left side clicking on Dashboard displays my progress into three sections: Pathways, Content, Schedules. Pathways indicating how many pathways have been completed, in progress and not started. Content indicating individual content items that have been completed versus bookmarked and Schedules indicating how many items I have added to my study schedule and if those have been completed or not started. As items are completed, the dashboard will dynamically change.

Example of dashboard:


Back to pathways, within the pathway I selected I can view all the content in a single place. As I complete the content whether it’s a session from Inspire or a TechNet hands-on lab, clicking Mark as Complete under the item will mark it as completed. At the top of the page a filter can be performed to see which items are completed versus outstanding (to do).

Example content:


At the top of the pathway, I can also see my overall progress of that pathway:


To back up the technical content, Microsoft Tech Academy is part of Microsoft Technical Communities – over 51 technical communities that span across various Microsoft products and services. These communities give you the opportunity to ask questions and interact with your peers across the industry and with Microsoft employees as well. In addition, product announcements and news about new features and services are also occurring in these community forums. Here is an excellent resource that will help you with getting started in the communities.


Lastly, as part of the Microsoft Technical Communities, I can browse blogs each from each product team and subscribe to my favorites so I will be notified of future announcements. Excellent way to stay up to date!


Wrapping up, Microsoft Tech Academy and Microsoft Technical Communities is a fantastic tool to add to your toolbelt to help you stay on top of your technical readiness, enjoy!