CADDManager on April 14th, 2015

Career Stages
adapted from “Strategies for Career Management” by Dalton and Thompson

We go through many career stages as we advance in our chosen field. They can be categorized in many ways. I have adapted one such definition as it might apply to CAD.

    • Stage I – Depending on Others – CAD Drafter
      The first stage in your career. You are fresh and most likely young. You are hungry for knowledge and seek out tech tips from those around you. You absorb information quickly and start reading books and talked to anyone you could find. You searched the web for tricks and help files.You may be hot on the hardware, smooth with the software, quick, sharp, dedicated and eager, but you are dependant upon others to get information. As you near the end of this stage you are doing a lot more independent research and less asking others around you. You begin asking fewer questions and start to provide answers to others.
    • Stage II – Independent Contributor – CAD Super User
      You press yourself ahead and others have determined that you are a source for information about using the software. You now begin to gather others around you as you provide short demos of tools that you have mastered. You have influence over some of the areas of CAD Standards development and methods of CAD production in your department or project team. You suggest new software tools and hardware needs. You help out with training of new users.Now more than before you have started to contribute to the CAD environment of the firm. You may be part of a committee that decides CAD issues and sets up training. You may have started programming and developing tools of your own. Learning LISP or VBA to create the small tools that you need to get the job done. Others may desire to use your creations and they soon become standard tools. You create menus and scripts or decide which shareware or software to purchase.
      You are now considered a “super user” or “power user” by others and possibly officially. If you are not part of the CAD Support staff, you may be asked to make a career shift and hire onto the team. You may get a new job actually supporting others as part of your job description.
    • Stage III – Contributing thru Others – CAD Manager
      You now have the title of CAD Manager or CAD Coordinator or CAD Supervisor. You may still be involved in production, but spend more time making sure that the office CAD flow is working effectively. This is the stage that allows you to impact the company by overseeing such things as the CAD Standard, purchasing software and hardware, training, vendor negotiations, budgets, productivity and more. You spend more time programming and developing. You interact with Project Manager to prep for CAD work on new projects.You no longer are hands on CAD production. You may not actually create any CAD design files at all now. You do use CAD, but it is mostly in a support role. You create project border files and customize content for project use. You have a solid CAD Standard is place and spend a lot of time policing the users for compliance.
      As you progress in this position, you now have staff under you (or not) and you have made the transition to management. You now get things done through other people. Mostly this is done by assigning tasks and managing the work efforts of others. You devise plans for new software rollout and others complete the individual tasks. It is difficult for you to not be so hands on, since your hands-on skills are what got you here.
    • Stage IV – Leading thru Vision – CAD Leader
      The final, and I think, prime place for you to be. You have done this for so many years you are now a leader of others and not just a Manager. Now you inspire others on to great things. You still perform all of the duties of Manager, since that is what your expected (and paid) to do.

      But now you think differently, you are motivating others to think globally about CAD. How it is pivotal to the operations of the company. How it is interwoven into the fabric of your design process. If CAD is ignored it cost money and reduces the project bottom line. Ignoring CAD may include not setting up for a new project, not reviewing contracts for CAD catchwords that may require additional software tools.

      You lead others by casting a vision and telling the story of how CAD should work and what is important to the proper use of the tool. You speak in conceptual terms and coach others to develop the step by step plans of making things happen. You spend more time in mentoring others than you have before.

      You interact with upper management when creating a CAD budget. You are now planning for CAD expansions looking 1-3 years ahead. You have selected the next tool to buy before you have the dollars to buy it. You are creating teams of people to help get the job done. CAD Committees, internal user groups, Standards teams, you are in the team building mode. Not that you could not do it alone, but by creating teams of people, you extend your influence by interacting with them consistently. You may even be involved in outside user groups and teaching events.

      This is where you want to be. A Leader. It does not really matter what your title is, how big your company is, or even if you are directly involved with CAD Support. By becoming a leader, you are having maximum impact on your firm and the industry at large.

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