I would just like to say this post is in NO WAY insinuating I am a great engineer. I believe that no matter how much you know or think you know there is always room for improvement and development. That being said these are some things I believe makes a technologist really stand out from the rest of the crowd.
The most important step to becoming an awesome engineer is the ability to learn. Might seem pretty obvious, of course, you have to learn to become an engineer, but the truth is you must have a love of learning and a passion for your trade to not only learn but retain the information that you absorb. This requires patience and practicing your trade even when away from the working environment. This is a pretty easy skill but takes a lot of dedication. Spending 8-12 Hours a day in front of the computer might make you loath technology when you are home, which is fine but Spending time working on your own learning path and interests becomes easier the deeper and more often you dive into it.
Set up your own home lab! Home labs are an awesome way to test, troubleshoot, and/or break technology. They offer you the perfect opportunity to go all out on a test environment for your own sick pleasure, like breaking a perfectly good nested ESXi hosts or seeing what happens when you rip PostGres out of Vcenter. All this can be done in a home lab and also provide awesome learning opportunities without the risk of bringing down production of work environments. Some great articles for home labs can be found on google. But don’t be taken aback by the high prices that are shown on some home labs, you can run an awesome lab on a single host with a lot of memory and CPU. I build my home lab for about 600 dollars and it works just fine for what I use it for.
Social channels are huge in the learning path for any technologist. Networks like twitter offer a fast and current view on new technology releases and news. It’s also great for networking, following your favorite engineers or CEO’s provides you with an opportunity to not only pick their brains on certain things but also connect with them and bring them up in topics you are unsure about. With the various technologies new and old represented on sites like twitter, there are unlimited opportunities to learn. Reddit is another great resource for information and learning. Reddit has become the epicenter for questions and answers on the web. You can find literally anything! Set up your account and starting asking tough questions that have you puzzled. this will hopefully lead to some solids answers. But also beware Reddit isn’t very moderated on some sites and you can get some wrong information, but in that case, it is usually discredited pretty fast.
The one word “Why?” is, in my opinion, the most important word someone can ask. Not only in technology but in any field. “Why?” is that gateway to every question in technology or life for that matter, It opens up a gateway of knowledge. I find this one-word phrase irreplaceable, trying to understand technology isn’t a “Know one, fit all” experience. In order to properly grasp technology and the concept of being a technologist you must understand that one product is not one technology, it is a buffet of many different technologies. Some of those technologies may be bleeding edge and barely touch upon, and some may be two decades old but still running strong. Asking why will bring out the questions that sometimes aren’t easily discovered otherwise. “Why?” is by far the most important question a technologist can ask.