Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Career in IT (My Job Journey Part 7)

For some background on how I changed directions into an IT career, check out this post.  Working in
IT has been a great experience for me on several different fronts:
  • It has given me a bit of financial freedom.  We don't have to live paycheque to paycheque counting pennies like we did when I was a printing pressman.  We can actually afford to go on holidays as a family now.
  • It has given me the opportunity to start and run my own small business (in our 10th year of operations now)
  • Because most industries need IT in some form or fashion, I have experienced work in many different businesses.  To date, my IT jobs and contracts have had me working with hospitality, utilities, energy, finance, health, legal, construction, fleet and freight, telecom, and entertainment industries, with private and public companies, and also in provincial and municipal government arenas.
  • I have more job security.  Demand is high for experienced IT professionals.  
Some of the lessons that I've learned in IT (although I think many of them are transferrable across any career path) are:
  • You've got to look out for yourself.  Companies are only concerned about one thing and its not you.  It their bottom line - are they making money.  Be aware of the health of the company, your company's industry, and the economy as a whole.  Compare benefits and wages when and where you can.,,, and are good places to start.
  • Soft skills are super important!  Manners, communicating clearly in emails, listening vs. talking in meetings, integrity, and a smile will open doors.
  • There are lots of 'unknown, un-posted, unrealized' jobs out there. New ones are being created all the time.  Some IT jobs you've probably never heard of:  puppet master, ethical hacker, environment specialist, agile guru, search engine optimization engineer, spring team lead....etc.
  • Be ready to learn.  It's always changing.  Visual Basic has gone the way of the dodo.  Ruby and Python are 'in'.  Companies need to say competitive.  Continuous learning will be a requirement of any professional regardless of career path in the future.
  • Don't submit to fear and intimidation.  Eloquent people intimidate me.  New concepts with big names give me 'learner's block'.  Don't give in to this fear.  
  • Volunteer to learn new things.  Early in my IT career, I hadn't work with Unix or Linux operating systems.  The company I was working with at the time was looking for volunteers on a project, and the volunteers needed to work with those operating systems.  I jumped at the chance and it spring-boarded me into many other opportunities.  I still use Unix and Linux every day at work.
  • Listen to your thoughts.  I found that I preferred to have 'the big picture' when working in an IT shop.  Coding on a small piece of functionality for one specific application wasn't for me.  I needed to understand the 'lay of the land'.  As a result, I choose jobs that gave me that 'view', and I've been much more successful and satisfied in my IT work.  I find I'm always poking new avenues for my career path in IT.   Don't be afraid to experiment a bit.
My Career Quest/Job Journey Links

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