September 4, 2007

In this Issue:

  • Perspective: Professional Development for Exchange and Outlook Pros
  • Bonus! Outlook-SharePoint Article Series on Windowsitpro.com
  • August 2007 Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Articles in PDF
  • Coming this Month

Perspective: Professional Development for Exchange and Outlook Pros

In a recent post on Windows IT Pro’s Industry Bytes blog, one of my colleagues, Caroline Marwitz, asked readers whether they would discourage their children from choosing an IT career. Although salary surveys we’ve done in recent years say that Windows IT professionals are basically content with their jobs, a vocal number, perhaps a minority, are dissatisfied enough with their careers—for reasons such as long hours for relatively low pay and outsourcing—that they’ll steer their kids away from IT.

Opportunity for professional development could be one key to long-term job satisfaction. But what does “professional development” mean to an Exchange Server and Outlook administrator? From an informal survey of several Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP contributors and some Exchange-related forums and blogs, plus my interactions with dozens of IT pros over the years, I’ve discerned these common threads in the professional development theme:

  • Start at the Help desk, get some certifications, and work your way up into systems or network administration.
  • Certifications are good, but a college degree (especially with some business courses or even an MBA) is better.
  • Don’t pass up an opportunity to plunge ahead into unfamiliar technology areas. For example, if you’re working as an IT tech and your company is upgrading to a new version of Exchange Server, you’re forced to learn the new technology—and update your skills.
  • Get involved in the IT community. Blog, participate in forums and newsgroups (even by lurking, you’ll learn something), join a user group, publish articles. If you’re especially motivated, start your own user group, as Exchange & Outlook author and regular forum contributor Nathan Winters did, by forming the Microsoft Messaging & Mobility User Group, oriented toward messaging professionals in the UK and Europe.
  • Attend conferences, such as Tech Ed and Windows and Exchange Connections, “places where people and networking mix well,” says Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP author William Lefkovics.

Another important part of professional advancement in IT and messaging specifically is a willingness to try out different IT career areas, as well as finding a mentor, says Winters. “Professional development is a personal thing. I would suggest constant reading and experimenting as key to a successful career. Trainingwise, it depends. I have found conferences to be inspirational and a great place to meet the best in the industry. \[And\] trying to engineer things so you work with people you really respect and developing a mentor type relationship with someone can really help.”

I’m especially interested in knowing what technology areas Exchange and Outlook professionals like you, our readers, should be familiar with, not only to help you do your day-to-day jobs as messaging pros but to help you advance in your careers. You might need to figure out why Exchange isn’t sending mail to a particular domain or restore a user’s lost email, but you also need to be keeping an eye on technologies that your company could adopt in the near future, such as unified messaging or collaboration (SharePoint), and preparing for your next migration—likely to Exchange Server 2007—by learning about new product features and upgrading your skills to work with the technology you're migrating to. Email me and tell me about your career path, what’s helped you advance professionally, and what information you’re looking for to keep you moving forward. Have a great month!

Anne Grubb, Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Editor

Bonus! Outlook-SharePoint Article Series
on Windowsitpro.com

Need help making Outlook 2007 and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2007 work together? Check out these articles by Siegfried Jagott, free to all registered users, which explain Outlook-SharePoint integration feature by feature.

August 2007 Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Articles in PDF

If you're someone who prefers your newsletters in printed form, check out this .pdf. It contains all the scheduled feature articles posted on the Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP Web site in August. Print and enjoy!

Coming this Month

"Strategies for Migrating Public Folders to SharePoint," by Paul Robichaux

"Outlook Tips & Techniques," by William Lefkovics
Coming September 11

"Troubleshooting DNS Problems in an Exchange Environment, Part 2," by Sekou Page
Coming September 18

"Using PowerShell to Manage Groups, Part 1," by Tony Redmond
Coming September 25

Share Your Exchange Experiences

As a messaging administrator, meeting technical problems head-on is a regular part of your job. Share your Exchange and Outlook discoveries, comments, solutions to problems, and experiences with messaging-related products with your fellow Exchange & Outlook Pro VIP readers. Email your written solutions to r2r@exchangeprovip.com. Please include your full name and phone number. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length. If we publish your submission, you'll get $100.