I heard this phrase used in a software evaluation launch. The speaker had just talked about the benefits of a piece of software, and used this phrase as a link to his next topic, the downsides of the software. It was a good phrase to link the two ideas, and illustrates the up & downsides to any decision.
Basically the meaning is that nothing is really free. It may appear free, or there is no visible cost, but there is a cost for the ‘free’ item.
When I graduated from college, I had a two-year computing certificate.Nobody would take me on as a programmer. With no skills and no experience I was stuck.
I managed to get a job, working in an office. I started in the processing department, handling VAT invoices until I someone decided I was better at packing invoices into boxes & and shipping them. By now, you can appreciate, I was really stuck, going backwards in fact.
I had sent my CV or resume to the IT department in my current job, and had a meeting with the IT manager. He looked at my CV, what I had learned in college, but I didn’t have enough experience to be valuable in his department.
He had a proposal for me though:
Work on building up my skills, in my own time, and I will test you in a month to see if you have improved.
So, he bought me a book on SQL by Codd & Date, and I proceeded to work with the book in the office, staying back most evenings. He created an account on the test database, and I started to learn how to write SQL. My boss was a database techie, so he was able to help when I got stuck, and we worked together.
Once I had completed the exercises to my boss’ satisfaction, I was offered a position in the IT department; my career in Oracle was up and running!
I realize now he wasn’t just testing what I had learned on my course, but really testing what I was prepared to do to improve myself.
I was lucky enough to be provided with the resources – the book, the test system, his experience, advice & time, and I made the absolute most of it.
There may be no free lunches, but there are “free” resources that you can use to better your consulting skills
Some of these Free resources are:
- Experience of your colleagues/boss
- Can you ask a colleague to explain a particular feature to you?
- Including how it works behind the scenes?
- Can you swap some of your skills for theirs?
- Volunteer for extra duties
- Wouldn’t if be good to learn from someone who does your target area every day?
- Can you volunteer to help? To shadow them, so that you see what they do every day?
- Test systems in your current job
- Can you get access to a test system in your current job
- Use the test system & manuals to configure a new feature, then run test transactions through it
- Start with simple tasks, then build up to more complex ones
- Internet-based database access
- Oraclecontractors.com will give you an account to an Oracle eBusiness database, you just need to register with them, also free
- This is a sandbox environment, you can check how to use standard processes, change configuration, find out how the application really works
- Oracle Manuals
- The User guides & Implementation guides contain a lot of information on new features.
- Could you learn how to configure a new module using these guides?
- Metalink/My Oracle Support
- Metalink is one of the largest resources of Oracle information. Can you get an account using the support identifier for your workplace?
- Metalink is the store of every issue raised with Oracle Corporation, answers to most questions you will ever encounter in your career are stored here.
- Can you resolve that difficult error message using this Metalink?
- Oracle Blogs
- Oracle blogs are a very useful way of finding out/sharing information
- Can you post an offer on a blog to swap knowledge – if you teach someone Order Management, will they help you with Receivables?
None of these resources cost money, they will take some of your time though
How many of these resources are available to you?
Are you making the most of these resources?
Don’t you want a ‘free’ lunch?
If you have already used these ‘Free’ resources, let me know how this worked for you below.
Can you think of any more ‘Free’ resources? Please add them below.
Talk next time