PowerShell Summit was a blast. I learned some great new skills and connected with a ton of folks who are as passionate about technology as I am. But even though PowerShell Summit is a conference about Windows PowerShell, attending it opened my eyes to some other important lessons that apply to everyone in IT.

Focus On Your Career, Not Your Job

Whether you love your job or hate it, you should always be learning new technologies based on what is best for you, not your company. Learn the things that make you a valuable professional and you’ll be in a good position no matter what happens.

Does that mean you should ignore the skills that you need to do your actual job? Absolutely not. Those are important too as long as you intend to keep that job. But if your company’s direction and your personal growth path don’t line up, it’s up to you to invest your own time and money to make it happen.

Keep An Eye On the Direction Of the Industry

To focus on the skills that make you a valuable professional, you have to know what skills are (and will be) the most valuable to have. Not everyone has the vision to see where the industry is going long term. If that’s the case for you (like it is for me), you’ve got to find the people who have that vision and get tuned in. Stay up to date on their blog, follow them on Twitter, and look for opportunities to hear them speak at conferences or on podcasts.

Many of the speakers at PowerShell Summit talked about what is coming in the future of IT. Some of them were among the Microsoft employees building that future. Listening to them blew my mind. What is coming, especially with Nano Server and Windows Containers, will be shaping the future of our industry in big ways. I will be listening to what they have to say.

Participate In the Community, and Give Back

Microsoft has open sourced a ton of code on GitHub, and there is a thriving community contributing to those projects. IT Professionals have a growing voice that can shape the tools that we will be using for years to come. If you want to stay relevant and be involved in the future of IT, you have to get involved in that conversation.

Now I know not everyone can code, and you might feel like that means you can’t get involved, but you’re wrong. I’m a guy that can code, but I know absolutely nothing about Active Directory, for example. That’s where you can help. You can provide domain expertise to people who don’t have it. You can participate in user groups and share your knowledge. You can exercise the technical previews that Microsoft releases and provide feedback. Anyone can find a role, and all of these things have to happen for us to collectively succeed in growing the industry.

I’m so excited to see what’s going to happen in IT in the next five years. I’ll be studying hard to stay up to date, and working to find a place in the community where I can give back and help others. How about you?