You Might Not Belong In IT

It’s my opinion that conferences and events where you can discuss topics related to an area you are passionate with like-minded people are invaluable. Recently I had a discussion with a number of like-minded “networking nerds” and a very sensitive subject came up. What I’m talking about is the fact that some people might not belong in IT. Allow me to elaborate.I’ve seen a trend, and maybe it’s this generation of “Winners”, that expect a company to provide all the tools and training to meet the requirements of their job. They couple this with the desire to do the bare minimum, and then complain when they don’t get what they want.

"Guess what; you’re dead wrong!"

At what point did people begin to believe that they didn’t have to know anything, aside from what a company teaches them, in order to collect a pay check? It’s this mentality that makes me believe there are a number of people who simply don’t belong in IT.

IT is about exploration

For those of us who have been in IT for a long time, you probably remember late nights of screwing with things that just wouldn’t work. It’s like that 4 year old who takes everything apart and tries to put it back together again. Sometimes you cant do it, but you try. You try and you learn. When you’re done you’re left sometimes, with a pile of parts and a deep understanding of how something was put together. I don’t see a lot of people doing this anymore. I see a massive group of people who expect to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and claim that the company didn’t give them the training they needed or the tools they needed to complete their assignment. Nobody wants to claim ownership and assume responsibility.

There is a cost involved in IT

For anyone who is considering a career in IT there are a few things you should be aware of. Here is my short list. 1. You need to learn on your own time. This is the price we pay for an IT position. Today’s companies don’t have the training budget or the subject matter experts to turn you into a rock star. A lot of personal dedication is required on your part.

When I was learning the in's and out's of IT I spent a lot of personal time and my own money to learn how things worked. I stayed up late. I got up early. I forced myself to learn this because I loved what I did. True, I was single at the time, but I was married with a newborn when I got my CCIE in Security. The point is, if you love it, and you want it, you can prioritize and do it. Stop wasting time on Facebook. Nobody cares about your cat/dog or the new Eminiem album, or your farm, close family excluded. ( I can say this because I've caught myself doing similar stupid things)

2. If you don’t screw up, you’re not doing it right.

You have to make the mistakes to learn for the next time. Face it, nobody is perfect. Stop trying to be. Be who you are, own your mistakes, and move on. I can’t tell you how much I’ve screwed up. I’ve made huge mistakes, but I’ve also had big wins. Most people tend to forget the mistakes if you put up a few wins, but you don’t get the wins without the losses.

3. You need to ask for help, but don’t expect to always get it.

It’s ok to ask for help. And it’s ok to ask an employer for training. Just understand that you’re not always going to get it. To do well in IT you need to be able to figure things out without a lot of help. This means you should be a master of the search engine, and spend the time reading what you find. If you don’t like reading then try to search for video tutorials. The internet is an information mega-hold and you just have to learn how to use it.

4. It’s essential to follow your peers online and engage with the community.

Blogs, Twitter, IRC, Packet Pushers Podcast, Live Streamed Events, trade shows, user groups, forums, vendor networks and so on. Find a place where other people like yourself hang out, get involved in the conversation, and watch your technical knowledge and abilities grow.

I can honestly say that I would not know some of the things I know if it weren’t for the relationships I’ve made on twitter,the blogs I’ve read, the shows I’ve attended, and the community I’m a part of.

  • @Ioshints
  • @Etherealmind
  • Terry Slattery
  • Earl Aboytes
  • Wendell Odom
  • Todd Lammle
  • Russ White
  • @sfoskett

The list goes on, and on, and on…and I’m sorry if I didn’t mention you.

Wrap-up

I could go on for days on this topic, but I’ve tried to touch on a few areas that not only matter to me, but that I believe will help you in your personal career. I’m hoping my peers will have additional thoughts and add to the discussion. IT, while a profession, a career, and a job, can be more than that. To me, IT is a community of people, who like me, enjoy learning, breaking stuff, thinking about work arounds, sharing their thoughts, and developing an area of expertise in which nobody will EVER totally be an expert, but everyone is ALWAYS learning, growing, and advancing. If that’s not what you’re looking for then you probably don’t belong in IT.