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Retaining programming skills in a supervisory position

I am an iSeries analyst and my position is changing to one of supervisory in nature, with less focus on technical (programming) skills. I plan to stick it out until the economy improves with the opportunity to brush up on my technical (non-programming) skills. How can I stay up on all the changes with things such as WebSphere, etc. and stay marketable if in the next couple of years I decide I want to get back into the language arena?

From your question, I am assuming that you have not moved into a position that has strictly management responsibilities, in other words, one that is purely administrative. It appears that you are heading into a lead/supervisor position that has reduced your opportunities to 'pound code'. The operative word is 'reduce'.

Unless your management position takes you completely out of the programming cycle, you should have the opportunity to assign parts of the programming projects to yourself. You will not likely be able to take on large projects but, as long as it does not interfere with your management duties and your management is in agreement, this will allow you to keep your skills sharp and updated. Many of the P/As that I know are also taking evening classes on technologies they are not able to learn at work. You should also get as involved as practical in any new technology that is brought into your data center (WebSphere enhancements, Java, Lansa, and the like).

Keep your resume updated with the new products, projects, and technologies that you have worked on so that you can, should the need arise, present yourself as a current and proficient P/A.

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