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Is a career in IT right for you?

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Josiahb, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. Josiahb

    Josiahb Gigabyte Poster

    We seem to have a lot of people on here recently moving into IT from other careers or just starting out, their first posts invariably include the words ‘I’ve always had an interest in IT’. What follows may seem fairly negative but I think it’s important to highlight, an interest in IT does not automatically mean that IT is the right career for you.

    What follows is my list of a few questions you should ask yourself before launching into your IT career:

    Do I mind working long hours?

    Every IT professional whether in support or development at some point will find themselves working when the rest of the office is in darkness; whether it is crunch time on a major software project or updates to a mission critical server we’ve all had some experience of being first in and last out.

    Can I explain things in simple terms?

    IT professional have to be able to educate users as well as support them, you need to be able to break down common (and uncommon) computing tasks into simple, easy to follow steps. You also need to be able to keep your cool while your doing this, you will come up against users who either can’t or won’t understand what you’re saying however you say it. This leads nicely in to the next one:

    Can I defuse things when the mood turns ugly?

    However well you do your job at some point you’ll come up against angry people, whether that anger is justified or misdirected you will still need to use all your diplomacy skills to calm them down and resolve the underlying issues.

    Do I ever get bored of learning new things?

    As we all know the world of IT is fast paced and ever evolving, many businesses don’t live on the bleeding edge but they do like to know about new technologies which can help them and you’re going to find yourself learning them and implementing them on a regular basis.

    Can I write?

    This one gets overlooked a lot; a huge amount of the modern IT pros role seems to be made up of producing, updating and otherwise playing with documentation. So if you find yourself coming out in a cold sweat at the thought of producing anything more complex than a text message then you may want to shift your aspirations.

    I’m sure there are many more, these are just what came to mind while sat waiting for 20000 deleted items to be cleared out of our spam account. This is by no means meant to scare you off if your interested in a career in IT, just be prepared to spend as much of your time managing people as you do machines.

    Anyone got any more questions to add or comments on my little collection?
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCDST, ACA – Mac Integration 10.10
  2. westernkings

    westernkings Gigabyte Poster

    Spot on!

    I think a lot of people say "I have always had an interest in IT" simply because it sounds better than saying "I think it is an easy job with good pay".

    You forgot to mention, how the majority of IT professionals time is spent doing very, very tedious tasks, hearing the same complaint, from the same set of people, about the same bloody thing. Mixed with genuinely interesting and worthwhile tasks.
  3. CraigH

    CraigH New Member

    I reckon the 2 most overlooked things for those getting into IT are communication skills and the ongoing study required.

    Very few people realise how much time you will actually spend dealing with people - not machines. Especially in networking/support etc. I've got programming friends who never talk to clients (but I think they're the only 'insulated' ones!)

    Study-time should always be planned for. If you want to stay commercial, then you need to be prepared for ongoing research and at least some form of informal ad-hoc education, if not for proper certification study.
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCSA
  4. jgiddings

    jgiddings New Member

    I have been out of the IT field since 2001. But I am looking to re-train and get back in on the cisco route. What qualifications would I need to get an interview?

    I already have an NVQ level 2 in IT and CNA 4.11 (novell networks).
  5. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

    I can agree with the communications part. Most outsiders probably think of IT as the folks in the dark corner never socializing thus no need to develop communications skills. Actually - wait, I know people like that.... :blink

    I don't understand how anyone thinking of getting into IT doesn't realize the amount of 'ongoing studying' that is required. If you're not interested in learning what's changing in the industry; what new technologies are being introduced; how political / environmental choices change directions; you're probably not in the right field.
  6. DanCML

    DanCML New Member

    I have to also agree with the OP - although I've managed to skimp on the documentation over the years - when you've pretty much the sole IT person in a company for half of the 15 years it's hard to find the time to keep docs up to date!

    I've had to interview candidates for positions in the past, and unfortunately in the cases where I've talked to people who have come straight from a training provider and had no practical experience they get tripped up very easily even with being given simple tasks that crop up on an almost daily basis. I wouldn't recommend a career in IT for anyone who doesn't spend a lot of their "hobby" time involved in IT too; for example, I run a number of forum websites in my own time related to my hobby, as well as helping out on a few other forums, and spend quite a bit of time at the weekend coding up modifications to those sites.

    By researching how to do various things on those sites it also benefits my career because it keeps me up to date on what's going on in the IT world; at work we still use Visual Basic 6 for instance (ssh, no sniggering at the back), although we have finally dumped all but one of our Windows 95 PCs (I said ssh!!! :P), and without the interest in IT outside of work I'd likely not have decided to take a stab at setting up a bunch of VMs to make better use of hardware when we moved offices a few months ago.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2010
  7. ITtech

    ITtech Bit Poster

    IT is one of the best fields to be in. I do agree you do have to have a passion for it. You have to love it. IT does require ongoing never ending education as technology changes on daily basis.

    If you are willing to put in the time and learn anyone can do this stuff its not hard. It does take TIME and if taught the right way anyone can do this :)

    So be prepared to spend a lot of time and with practice you will do really well in one of the fastest growing fields in the world.

    I have all my little cousins who come to learn at my repair shop . 12-15 year olds know how to build and repair computers, laptops and basic networking. It is not hard just has to be taught the right way and practice :) and did i say Practice? which means TIME...
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2010
    Certifications: A+, Network+, CNA, MCSE, CCNA, MCT
  8. The contractor

    The contractor New Member

    Right, I probably get shot for this. Taking this from another thread I have to say that from experienc that you only have to love IT if your going to make it your life career...

    I think that we all know that there are plenty of people who do a job that they don't love in a factory or office and for not much money right?

    I loved my first job but it just didn't pay and I spent my 20's seeing peole getting well paid and having comfortable lives, so I chose IT, why? Simply because it offered the potential of a well paid career.

    I spent 6 years in a permy job doing ok but I saw a constant stream of contractors coming and going earning boat loads. Now I'm a contractor, I don't love my job and I don't hate it but I will have paid my mortgage off in the next 12 months and may then go on to doing something else with out the pressure of paying the bills.

    I know of several others who used the opportunity to investe their contract earning wisely and now manage there own businesses or simply their portfolios, unfortunatley I haven't done quite that well ;-).

    I've been in IT 12 years now and have seen people get older, move on and those who don't want to renew their certs, yes even CCIE's. So I'm in agreement that IT moves on fast but lots of people don't move with it. This does create fresh openings for people starting out in ther eiT career so no bad thing, but if it's going to be short career then hey I still say you may as well go and earn the money...
  9. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    I would also add that coming into IT you also have to have a little bit of grasp for older technology as well, it's all well and good having the latest and greatest product knowledge but unfortunately there are still ALOT of people using older technology out there (currently working at a place where they are using Win2000 workstation for some of the people).

    As far as some of the other comments, it helps coming into IT with a passion for it, unfortunately the passion can simply evolve into boredom quite easily. You have to be prepared to do the same old work, time and time again with the off chance that you will get involved in project work that does lead to new and better technology, unfortunately that usually only happens to those people who do have a passion for it, those who simply plod along soon get left behind.

    I agree with "the contractor" that in the end you can simply burn out and want to move on from IT, I get to that stage occasionally where I simply want to do something else, luckily enough at the moment the new technology out there allows me to still get excited about things but eventually I know I am going to move out of IT into something else (when I left the Army I was actually advised that in your life time you can expect 3 distinct career changes).

    I would also suggest that the lure of money not be the sole reason for moving into IT because I can tell you that the lure is just that, it's something to get you into IT, it's very unlikely that you will find the high salaries without a lot of hardwork, dedication and time away from friends and family, add to that the constant need to improve and you may just get there.. but don't hold your breath, I have seen people think they have it when quite simply they don't, infact I have talked people out of IT and into something else (McDonalds was too good for one guy) before.

    Lastly, be prepared for a lot of abuse, if anything goes wrong and you're in the vacinity, it WILL be your fault, it doesn't matter if it's not IT related, you were there ergo it's your fault.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  10. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

    Good points raised so far and just like to also add that regardless of working in IT or whichever field there comes a time when boredom would set in. Unfortunately that's just life and one has to get on with it.

    On the other hand IT is forever evolving and for one to stand a chance of being employable then learning is inevitable. I must admit there's time I get fed up of learning and studying new and old technology but don't let it get to me as I love technology.

    Interesting thread and wish we have more of these relevant type of threads in the near future:)
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  11. Col

    Col Byte Poster

    Great post. Here's my (personal) reactions:

    Currently working as a production journalist. Crap hours are my middle name.

    Used to teach Information Skills to new undergraduates at the local uni.

    I think that might be the tricky one. Working in a newsroom does require a bit of diplomacy but tempers do get frayed sometimes. Should be OK though.

    Actually that's one of the things that appeals to me. I tend to get bored when I'm not learning new things and kind of like a continual learning curve.

    Yeah. It's pretty much what I spend my day doing now.
    Certifications: A+ Network+ MCP MCDST MCITP
    WIP: CCENT Security+
  12. kevicho

    kevicho Gigabyte Poster

    I think this is a good thread with the key work being career, yes you will get some people who go to work to earn money, we all do to a certain degree, however the ones who want to get most out of work, and turn it from a Job into a career will have to be prepared to go the extra mile, and i think this is especially true in IT.
    Certifications: A+, Net+, MCSA Server 2003, 2008, Windows XP & 7 , ITIL V3 Foundation
    WIP: CCNA Renewal
  13. danielno8

    danielno8 Gigabyte Poster

    i love working in networking. I also enjoyed server admin but not as much. The rest of IT is not for me though (i don't think, as other than desktop support i aint done it)
    Certifications: CCENT, CCNA
  14. Josiahb

    Josiahb Gigabyte Poster

    Good points from people, glad to see this has generated some interest!

    Particularly like this one, I've found myself apparently being responsible for desks, chairs, staplers, hole punches, doors, kettles and coffee machines. The flip side to all this is the tendency to receive no feedback whatsoever when everything works perfectly.

    Latest occurence of that for me was during the snow earlier on this year, various people couldn't make it into the office so we had them setup on secure VPN connections in no time and they carried on working throughout the day without difficulty. Something which wouldn't have been possible with our setup a year ago. Not one word of thanks received.... but a job well done none the less.

    If you can cope with being the unsung hero then you'll be fine, if you need the love and adulation of a thankfull office be prepared to be very depressed.
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCDST, ACA – Mac Integration 10.10
  15. DapperDan

    DapperDan Nibble Poster

    All very good points. One I'd like to add is that the IT industry is very young compared to a lot of other industries out there (construction, music, etc).

    And although this isn't IT industry specific, I've been messed around and passed over plenty of times for internal IT jobs at my last place only for the job to go to someone either less experienced than me, or externally. So I'd say be prepared for that also.

    Like what has been mentioned above, this industry is ever changing and there needs to be a willingness to learn new technologies (and old ones I might add). It's equally exciting as daunting, but for me it's worth it.

    I get a lot of users saying they couldn't do my job and how do I remember all the things I do. I say to them "Google is your friend :biggrin!". But seriously, I say to them if you put the time in, you'll be fine. Being an IT professional isn't hard work in my opinion. I reckon I could be a Solicitor or anything else if I put my mind to it and work hard.

    Peace with two fingers.
    Certifications: ITIL v3; A+, Network+

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