The Importance of Networking

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Blaine Smith

Networking, especially in the technology industry, is very important for your career. It gives you many opportunities to create relationships, gain knowledge, and offer your experience to others in furthering your professional aspirations. In this article, you will discover the importance of networking in the technology industry and how it positively affects your technology profession.

The purpose of networking
The purpose of networking is to expand your professional connections, enhance your view of the technology industry and to practice continuous learning in your specific field. When creating relationships with people in your technical field, you have the opportunity to build upon your own skillset through the conversations that take place. Networking not only allows you to expand your learning, but also gives you the ability to offer your knowledge for others professional gain through servant leadership. Another way to utilize networking is to promote your organizations capabilities and create potential future business partnerships.

It’s important to remember that networking is not going to an event and collecting a stack of business cards. In these situations, you may build only one or two true, vital, and trusted relationships, but that is more than okay. It’s not about the number of people you talk to, but the quality of the discussions you hold with those you authentically engage with. These real relationships that you form help you expand your personal and organizational brand, and it gives you the ability to be served or to serve others. Relationships are made to benefit both parties. The individual you are networking with could have something great to offer you, and in return you may have some great advice for them. The purpose of networking is not only to help you in your career, but to help others in their career as well.

Importance of networking in your tech career
For anyone in the business of technology, expanding your network is so important. Networking expands your personal connections with a range of individuals that touch multiple areas of the corporate spectrum. This includes future colleagues from a vast array of organizational departments, potential new customers, and/or business associates.

As a technology consultant, through conversations with others in similar technical fields, and sharing non-confidential experiences, you open up new ideas for technical application, and potentially learning new skills. You can also build a group of trusted advisors or mentors. These individuals can share best practices, thoughts, and innovation with you. Everyone is someone, you might even be speaking to a future colleague or new employee hire for your company.

Networking recommendations
Some of the best networking practices I recommend is to become involved in in-person events. This include trade associations, specific technical group associations, university associations or alumni groups, etc. Joining these groups allows you to meet several people with the same technology skillsets or professional interests as you, and this can really be used to your advantage when it comes to advancing your technology career. Networking online is also a great tactic. LinkedIn is a professional platform that is perfect for online networking. LinkedIn has several groups to join that are specific to your technological interests or capabilities. By joining these groups, you are able to engage in online discussions and discover new opportunities from other individuals in the group. This platform is also a great way to keep in touch with people you have networked with in-person. For instance, if you create a great relationship with someone, invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. This is just another form of communication to use to keep in touch with the people you meet while networking.

The key to networking is how you handle the conversation. In the initial conversation, you need to learn a little about the other person and allow them to learn a little about you. Have an elevator pitch ready. For tips on how to create or improve your elevator pitch, check out this article. You want to find some common ground with the person you are networking with. If there is common ground or a common interest, further the conversation with a follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn or through email. Depending upon the level of that connection, staying in touch is vital.
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Some of the best technology leaders, business development and capture leaders, and program leaders make time to attend trade associations and other networking engagements and events as part of their professional schedule. They commit to spending time to either give back to the technology community or to gain even more insights from others through the creation of new relationships. It’s important to remember that networking isn’t supposed to be a sales effort. It’s supposed to be genuine. Those who are best at networking pursue building honest relationships to learn more or help others learn. When these approaches are utilized, you will get the best results. Good luck with your future networking efforts.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients –from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms –in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Centurion Spotlight: Burak Tasel

Posted on Posted in Technology

Meet our next Centurion Spotlight featuring our consultant, Burak Tasel! We had the great opportunity to sit down with Burak and discuss how he started working in technology, his favorite projects, and why he chooses to work with Centurion.

What got you into technology?
During my undergraduate study, I interned for a public accounting firm. At the time, this firm was going through a major accounting system upgrade. As part of my internship, I had the opportunity to assist them with their system and infrastructure setup as well as helping them migrate their data from the old system to the new system. This experience drew me deeper into technology. I really wanted to learn more about system design and programming languages, and that interest lead me to enroll in a Computer Science graduate program. About three (3) semesters into the program, I was offered a full-time software engineering position by one of the companies I had interned with. This was where my technology journey kicked off.

In my current role as an IT Consultant, I help our client succeed in implementing DevSecOps and modern software development practices. I work with many projects that involve automation, API development, and system integration. I have a particular interest in cloud computing, with a primary focus on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other distributed open source technologies. These are the main technologies I work with and I would consider them my greatest strengths.

What was your favorite project you have worked on?
In my favorite project, I held the role of the solution architect in support of the Marketplace System Integrator (MSI) contract for the Affordable Care Act. My team and I were responsible for providing architectural oversight and ensuring that development of the systems adhered to the Government-approved standards and technical reference architecture. This was a dynamic project involving many contracting teams that worked on different parts of this system. The biggest effort evolved around migrating major Marketplace components to the cloud in order to enhance the scalability, functionality, and durability of the system. As a result of this project, I gained a great amount of exposure to different technologies and got the opportunity to work closely with engineers from well-established companies.

Currently, I am working on a project involving modern software development and support. My team and I have the responsibility of spearheading the adoption of new technologies. In this process, we are helping other teams migrate into new technologies using modern development platforms and tools. These tools include a highly customized continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. We also support various products throughout this project including tools to improve code quality and security posture of applications. All of these efforts are done with the hope that we can catch issues before the application is deployed to production. Overall, we help teams streamline their development process to produce high quality, secure, and maintainable software.

When the teams migrate their applications to the Modern Development Environment (MDE), they benefit from these best practices and tools. This all reflects on the metrics that we collect and share with the teams. For example, we can see the technical depth related to an application whether it is an increase or decrease over time. Seeing the teams utilize the metrics we collect is the most rewarding part of this project.
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Why do you choose to work with Centurion Consulting Group?
I became aware of Centurion’s role in the Agency’s ongoing effort to modernize their enterprise systems and move their critical applications to the cloud. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this effort and bring in some of my expertise and experience on the subject. I had also learned about Centurion and their mission, leadership, and successful engagement with various federal agencies. From there, I knew that I wanted to be part of the Centurion team.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients –from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms –in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Defining Jr, Mid, and Sr Level in Your Java Developer Career

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Defining Jr, Mid, and Sr level in your Java Development career is based on a number of things. The truth is, it’s not based on just years of experience. When it comes to technology, and more specifically Java Development, the level you reach in your career is acquired through a culmination of experience, degrees, years working, titles, and more. What is the true level of your ability? In this article, you will discover how your Java Developer career level is defined and how to continue climbing to the top.

Defining each level
From a technology standpoint, defining your career level is much more than how many years you have worked. You have to consider the level of complexity when it comes to technologies and projects, how many additional or peripheral technologies the candidate is using, and how they are using Java in particular. Do they have front-end or back-end experience or are they full stack? Are they integrating with other technologies? It’s also important to consider that some people pick up skills faster than others.

If the complexity of the technology is not considered and the level is strictly defined by years of experience, then typically Jr level is 0-2 years, Mid-level is 3-6 years, and Sr level is 7+ years. But, as I previously mentioned, the level of your career is defined by much more than years of experience. If it’s based off of your skillset, Jr level candidates have basic and limited knowledge, Mid-level candidates have intermediate knowledge, and Sr level candidates have expert knowledge. As you gain more technology skills, the world is your oyster.

In the commercial world, the level of your career is heavily related to your experience. When considering what level you are, the order of importance goes as followed: experience, where you have worked, what technologies you have used, your degree, and title. In the government world, degree is very important when determining what level you are because you are placed in a labor category. In this sector, the order of importance when defining the level in your career are as followed: degree, years of experience, actual experience, and other technologies you’ve been exposed to. In each sector, there are different priorities when determining your career level. Government does not have the flexibility to move around different titles or levels, whereas it’s easier to do so in commercial work.

For example, we had a consultant that was very strong in Java, Spring, Boot, and Angular, but didn’t meet the requirement for years of experience. Because these particular skills are harder to find, an exception was made. The point is, that even though the consultant had a bachelor’s degree and six years of experience and the labor category was having a bachelor’s degree and seven years of experience, we were able to place him at a higher rating because of their highly qualified technology skills. This goes to show that the level in your career is not always defined by the amount of years you have worked but by the technology skills you possess.

Moving to the next level
A lot of this is determined by you. You have the ability to take the initiative and learn more technologies on your own. For example, you can take the time to learn an open source tool that goes along with Java and bring that to your manager’s attention, pointing out that you can use it to improve the project. This is something that earns you additional kudos and the opportunity to quickly move up a level. Using your knowledge, initiative, and continuous learning to develop your own skillsets is important in both the commercial and government sectors. No matter what, to move up in your career, your skills need to be at a certain level.
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What you gain from each level
Ultimately, you receive similar gains from each level in your career. As you are moving up the ladder, you gain exposure to new technologies, higher compensation, and level of respect. You also become more recognized within your team, company, and even the outside community. You gain that recognition and ultimately validation.

With the experience and expertise you gain throughout your career, you should be putting yourself out there more. Whether you gain more knowledge on your own, present yourself as an expert on online platforms, or mentor others, you are doing more for your career. Overall, defining the level of your Java Developer career is based on many things, and there is always room for improving your skillsets and gaining more knowledge in technology.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients –from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms –in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com

Finding Your Jerry Maguire

Posted on Posted in Technology

By Theresa Zandi

Have you seen the movie Jerry Maguire? If not, here’s a quick overview: Tom Cruise plays a sports agent that works with some of largest names in sports for a company that handles all of the major athletes; however, he is dissatisfied with the lack of personal attention and service they provide to the careers and lives of the people they represent. Personally, this is one of my favorite movies and it happens to be very relevant to staffing. Jerry Maguire is a big-time sports agent and athletes need to heavily evaluate what is being offered to them before they sign on. In relation to technology staffing, candidates need to evaluate staffing firms before they decide to work with them. But, what higher level of service should you expect from the company? What should you expect from your Jerry? As a technology candidate, you should be picky when it comes to the consulting firm you choose to work with. Here are some things to look for in an IT professional services firm:

Caring
First, you should look for a staffing firm that has a reputation for caring about their employees. The staffing firm should not hold values that are strictly commoditized. Some people are all about the dollar, but most people are interested in having someone learn about them and making sure they are following their career path. A good technology consulting firm should provide you with someone who actually listens to you as a candidate, not one that just hears what they want to hear and slams you into a position because it’s good for them. The conversation should start something like, “Tell me about you. Where have you been? What do you want to do? How can I help you get there?” Investing time to review a profile and resume, learning about the candidate and their interests, and finding them the perfect match is how the process should go.

Some technology staffing firms are very numbers-driven, so they don’t have any interest in learning about the candidate and directing them in the right direction for their career. Their process is, “Do you fit my need? If not, I’m moving on to the next person.” When looking for the right firm, make sure they have a reputation for genuinely caring for their employees.

Benefits
When looking at a technology consulting firm, always consider if they have a comprehensive benefits package. It’s important to know how much the firm is willing to invest in you. Benefits include insurances, PTO/holidays/sick leave, company-paid options, 401(k), tuition reimbursement, etc. This is very important in a career, and it should be considered when finding your Jerry Maguire.

Career Path Guidance
How is the technology services firm going to help you expand your skills? You want someone who helps you set your career path and steer you in the right direction when getting you an interview. As mentioned earlier, some staffing firms are numbers-driven and don’t consider the career path of candidates. As a technology candidate, it’s important to go into a job knowing that it will help you in your career by expanding your skillset. A good technology consulting firm listens to your interests and guides you down your desired career path.

Community involvement
Another thing I think is very important, and is something that Centurion values, is community involvement as a company. What do people do to give back? Consulting firms that participate in community functions or charities are promoting a family-like atmosphere. Some people want to belong to a cause and be part of something, and some firms provide that.

Reputation
A famous line in Jerry Maguire is “help me help you.” The firm that you work for needs to have a great reputation and be built on integrity. This all starts with the leadership team and employees and how they conduct their business. If you are looking for your Jerry Maguire, super-agent, they need to be able to help you.

Jerry McGuire is Centurion. Like the movie, our internal leaders and “agents” used to work for very big firms in our industry, and now we have branched out on our own. The character of Jerry Maguire was on the same path of going from a large firm to being on his own, taking only one client with him. Similarly, Centurion started with just a handful of clients. Since Jerry Maguire had only one client, that client was his entire life and he did everything he could to get him the best results. This is what your technology consulting firm should be doing for you. They should take individual notes of you, your accomplishments, where you want to go, and what you want to make. They should gather all of the information that is important to you as a technology candidate, and work to get it all for you.
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Working with people at a leadership or company level that are very well connected will benefit you. They offer you more opportunities. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be a big firm, but they need to be someone who listens to your needs and wants. It needs to be an individualized approach and using all the resources at your disposal.

When finding your technology consulting firm, consider the values of Jerry Maguire. In order for you to expand your career, you need a firm that works with you to help you accomplish your goals. If you want to find your Jerry, give us a call. Remember, “You had me at hello.” We are happy to help you in your career and look forward to working with you.

About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients –from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms –in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com