I agree that learning over time is vitally important, there needs to be someone there to realize the value of your cluefulness.
There are also free ways to increase cluefulness.
- I look to user groups and their SIGs. Java user group, Microsoft regional site. If you are interested in more San Francisco Bay area resources let me know.
- I check out conferences in the area I may be able to browse during a lunch break or an evening. Exhibition passes and keynotes are usually free and some sessions are easy enough to sneak into without the expensive passes.
- Read through the source code of a respected open source software project. Look for both style and content. Sourceforge is a good starting point.
- Loiter at Borders. Most big bookstores now have a cafe where you can sit down and drink some coffee while you read about a new concept that interests you. I wanted to learn about Acrobat SDKs but did not want to buy a book, so I spent an afternoon at Borders instead. Yeah, it’s pretty nerdy, but I at least fill semi-social because there are other people bustling about.
- Network to find fans of your cluefulness. It is nice to have people to bounce ideas off of and hopefully they may know a way for you to capitalize on your skills.
- Be the boss of something. It’s easy to be bitter at managers always holding you down. I started my own sporting goods business because I wanted to have absolute control over something. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a business and I now have management experience without waiting for someone to promote me.