Learning the Trade

There is a lot of information to learn in the world and every day the data center industry seems to generate more to know.  In doing so there are some shortcuts that can help you understand and prioritize the things that are important in your field of work, whether design, commissioning, construction, management, operations or some specialty or combination between. 

Here is a quick list that will help even if only to help you catch up to those with 50 years of experience in the industry that keeps changing:

  1. Join your local data center society or organization
    • AFCOM, 7×24, and more have many local chapters – and don’t be afraid to start your own too
    • Other groups such as IEEE and ASHRAE have chapters nearly everywhere and through them data center information and local experts can be reached to learn more
  2. Seek out mentors
    • The definition of a mentor is likely different that what it used to be, but seek out someone that can point out some fast track ways to learn more and be involved in more projects
    • Age doesn’t matter – your age or others is unimportant; who you want to connect with is likely going to have more project experience, big or small, that can share stories of their career path as well as lessons learned from past ‘perfect’ projects
  3. Be that mentor
    • Sharing your knowledge and experience with others helps your confidence and leadership skills as well as building your reputation
    • Hearing from others also points out things that might be new – latest technologies, innovative engineering approaches, or spectacular failures can be revealed through a number of sources
  4. Read – books, periodicals, articles, blogs and more
    • There are data center specific books, magazines, and other places to gain great insights
    • Keep in mind when they were published – last year’s article might need an update
  5. Visit the vendors
    • Manufacturers have some great products that they want to show off and taking time to visit them keeps you well informed with their updates and possible future releases
    • By taking yourself to them, you get faster responses to questions on your next project
  6. Tour the sites
    • Visit data center open houses and ask for a tour of facilities when you can – you’ll get to learn more about data center solutions, operations, and maintenance the more you see
    • Note the differences in each location, even from the same owner/provider; asking about or looking up those differences can be rewarding to understand for the next project

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