In the Becoming a SharePoint Professional series of blog articles, I’m exploring what it takes to make it as a golfer in Bahamas. I also might mention a hobby of mine, SharePoint.
To make it as a golfer in Bahamas, you need to whack a small ball into a hole, preferably with fewer whacks than anyone else.
Now let’s explore a bit more about that hobby of mine, SharePoint, and what you attitude should be if you plan on exploring a career as a SharePoint Professional.
It’s All About Expectations
You may know that being a SharePoint professional, or even doing any kind of work in the SharePoint business, can be quite lucrative. By lucrative, I mean that it is quite common to see hourly rates at or above $200 per hour, in some cases far higher, and there seems to be a steady stream of work to be done. If you make it, you can have a high salary, work on an exciting platform, and deliver great value to your clients. There really aren’t that many ‘downs’ at all. If you make it.
The thing is, making it takes a lot of work, so it is important that you have the right expectations and don’t come into SharePoint expecting to flip a switch and be a millionaire.
In reality, working in SharePoint is a job, just like any other field. Despite the boom SharePoint has seen in later years, there’s no magic that leads everyone to become rich. Some people will be hugely successful, others will make a living, and some will fail and not get past even the first hurdles of the track.
How can you know what to do to avoid failure? Well, as the heading says, it’s all about expectations.
The first question you need to ask yourself is where you want to go. In other words: What do you want?
Note: Shadows are still cool.
Many will answer this along one of three lines, combining various levels of interest (meaning your willingness to work) and your desired outcome (meaning what you want in return).
- I want to know a bit more so I can dabble a bit (low interest, low expectations)
- I want to make SharePoint my job (medium interest, medium expectations)
- I want a piece of the SharePoint money-cake (high interest, high expectations)
Of these three, the biggest chance of success comes from the second path, in which you have a balance of interest and expectations. As for any field, the more risk you are willing to take (higher interest) the more you may expect to get in return (high expectations), but also, the higher the fall is should you not manage to succeed.
If you come to SharePoint with wide eyes and plans to turn a quick buck (low interest, high expectations), then turn around instead. There are far better (or worse) get-rich-quick schemes out there. You should probably burn your fingers on a few of them before you even attempt to investigate any career. You can make big money in SharePoint just like you can make big money on being a professional football player, but it takes a lot of hard work and only a few actually manage to do it.
Perhaps surprisingly to some, the geek attitude (high interest, low expectations) won’t work either. SharePoint is more about business than about technology, and consumers (as in your clients) expect you to understand and embrace the business mentality to a much greater extent than is the case for, for example, plain .NET developers or server operators. I’m actually an example of this myself; I truly have no interest in money or being rich, so I work only to the extent required to pay my bills and then I geek around the rest of the time. Had I been more aggressive in my approaches to clients, I would likely have had more financial success and more high-paying clients.
If, however, you come to SharePoint and are willing to put in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years it takes to succeed, then you may very well be on the path towards a great career.
Keep in mind that the community celebrities of SharePoint have years of passionate work behind them, often at the expense of mostly everything else. You won’t become a SharePoint superstar between 8 AM and 4 PM, you’ll need to put in the evenings and sometimes even the nights. Weekends sounds like a nice idea, but you’ll be working instead. If you have no spouse, consider yourself lucky. If you have no kids, you may just be in a position to make it.
Think About Your Family!
Speaking of spouses, and kids, remember that the investment you make may seem like it’s free. After all, you’re just spending a few hours every evening reading up on documentation, writing proposals, or testing out a new backup strategy or tool. After all, you can’t spend all your weekends at the cottage or with the in-laws, can you?
Well, most people that work do their jobs in order not to work. In other words, you work for 8 hours per day to finance the remainder of the day, of which 8 hours is sleep. So, although simplified, every hour you work you get one hour of waking time off. That hour is actually your payment; your salary pays for the expenses you have away from work. If you work as many hours as you have waking time off, then your salary is actually 1:1 in work/time off, give or take a slight profit or loss, depending on whether you are able to save up a few bucks over time.
My point here is that the time off belongs to you and your family and friends. If you put in extra hours of work, then you shift the reward towards the worse. If you work just a couple of hours more per day, and have 6 hours off to spend with your spouse, kids, and friends, then your pay per hour is much lower and the cost of your time with your family and friends is much higher. For every hour of a working day with them, you now have to work 1 hour and 40 minutes. Those additional 40 minutes comes directly from your life and is almost twice what you have to pay if you just work a regular 8 hour per day job.
Are you sure you are willing to pay that price? Are you sure your family realizes the cost?
This isn’t really isolated to SharePoint, however, but I think you should keep it in mind before you decide or embark on a new path that may dig deeply into the time you have to live your life.
So, your question to ask is this: How much am I and my family willing to put into becoming a SharePoint professional, and to what extent to I need or want returns on that investment.
From a reader suggestion, I’m going to make the next article be about architects. As I mentioned in the first article of this series, architects are a somewhat ambiguous and not very well understood title (as is the case of many titles). I’ll try to clear up some of the misconceptions, and bring at least my interpretation to the mix 🙂
Don’t forget to keep comments flowing, I’m trying to pick up on suggestions and incorporate those into the series.
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