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Yeah, But Do You Actually ENJOY Doing IT?

By  Jun 15, 2008

Topics: Certification

I have known many men and women over my 11 years in IT who decided, either by choice or by force of circumstance, to change from their existing career field to information technology (IT). Some of these individuals claimed they wanted to enter IT because they felt that the job security was very high, and that their income potential was most excellent. As true as these IT career attributes are, I have some hard questions for those who enter IT mainly for "the bennies."

Question #1: Do You Like Solving Puzzles?

To my mind and experience, work in IT can be likened to attempting to solve a never-ending puzzle. For example, take the industry buzzword “solution developer” (which is a five-dollar word to denote a software programmer in most cases). This moniker leads us to the notion that there exist so many IT-related problems in business that one could make a full-time vocation out of this work alone.

If you are the type of person who becomes overly frustrated by puzzle-solving processes, then I assure you most emphatically that IT is not the field for you. The way IT works, at least in the vast majority of cases, is that as soon as you solve one problem you discover three more that were previously hidden “under the covers.” This motif then continues ad infinitum.

To be fundamentally happy working in IT, you must learn to accept the fact that there is always work to be done: problems to be solved, systems to be optimized, and so forth. You must also learn to eagerly embrace and to derive fundamental satisfaction from addressing these challenges, because IT is a field that is constantly moving (forward and/or backward, depending upon the enlightenment factor of your company).

Question #2: Do You Have Patience?

This question is related to the first one, for you must certainly possess a fair degree of patience in order to see an IT problem through its successful resolution.
What I am referring to specifically here is patience with people. Depending upon what you are doing in the field, you will doubtless find yourself on the “giving” side of the help equation more often than not. That is to say, IT often involves “nursemaiding” befuddled end-users through the same “trivial” procedures over and over and over yet again.

Moreover, you will likely have to deal with corporate brass who insist that you make some IT feature available to him or her, but who are unable to accurately articulate precisely what he or she wants the new system to do.
People skills, or the so-called “soft skills,” are of chief importance to most careers in IT. If you are a people hater, then you should not enter the IT industry.

Question #3: Do You Like To Learn?

As I mentioned earlier in this article, the IT industry is always in a state of flux. If you stop studying and learning new technologies, then the industry will literally leave you far behind.

In order to derive fundamental satisfaction from an IT career, you must be comfortable with the idea of being a lifetime learner. Naturally, it is preferred if you have a genuine passion for information technology. Some behavioral clues that you are constitutionally suited for IT are the following:

  • You read industry magazines in your off-hours
  • You love “talking shop” with other IT pros, either on-the-clock or off-the-clock
  • You “tinker” seemingly endlessly with your home computer and network, just for the sheer joy of it
  • You spend your own money on IT learning materials and technologies

I hope that this article has provided you with some food for thought. As lucrative and secure as a career in the IT industry is, the most important overarching question is, “Yeah, but do you ENJOY doing the work?”

My late Grandpa Cook used to say, “You know that you found the right career for you if it doesn’t feel like you are working when you are working.”

That is sage advice, and, speaking for myself, I know that I am exactly where I want to be, professionally speaking.

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