Saturday, May 25, 2013

Talking to Professionals

When I first decided I wanted to move to an IT career, one of the things I did was to talk to IT professionals that I know in my area about my ideas, and whether or not I was heading in the right direction.  I think this is a great way to go, and can really help you to figure out the most reasonable path to reaching your career goals.

Pretty quickly, I figured out that around here, lot's of experience working around/with/on computers in non-IT jobs, combined with a few useful certifications, was a reasonable place to start.  It won't get you into a network engineer or IT manager position, but it will get your foot in the door with an entry level position.

I think that regardless of what you're trying to accomplish in your life, talking to people who are farther down the road than you can be helpful.

If you want to lose weight, don't go to fat people for advice, and don't talk to life-long health nuts.  Go find somebody who used to be fat, and got themselves fit.

If you want to get your finances in order, don't talk to your broke friends and coworkers for advice, and don't bother with Warren Buffet or that cousin who has never spent a penny more than they had to in their life.  Find somebody who used to be as broke as you, who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and is now financially successful.

Find people who are on the same road that you're on, just a few miles ahead.  They know where the potholes are, and if they're not a jerk, they can help you avoid them.

As I talked to different people in the industry, especially those who had transitioned to IT from something else, I got similar responses from almost everyone.  Really, it was everyone except one guy.  Let's call him Ernest.

I asked Ernest the same couple of questions as everyone else; but our conversation went a little differently....

Me: Would you consider an applicant with 8 years verifiable experience in computer oriented jobs but no actual IT experience, plus a couple of decent certifications like a CompTIA A+, Net+ and Sec+ to be a strong or weak applicant? 
Ernest: That'd get your nose under the tent.  You like computers?
Me: Well, yeah. 
Ernest: Yeah?  Well you won't after a couple of years.  I swear if I have to reset one more f@#$ing password...
Me: Did you feel that way when you started in IT? 
Ernest: Me?  I didn't give two sh@#s when I started.  It's just money.  You think a guy who shovels shit for a living gives a flying f@#$# about shit?

That right there, is a pretty clear indication you're on the Wrong Road™.  I was talking to someone who had gone the bachelor's degree route, worked his way up from a humble help desk employee to a managerial position in IT.  It's funny when you're reading about it, but it's just sad when you're actually talking to him.  He set out for what a lot of people would have considered a Real Job™, for no reason other than the opportunity to make money.

No love.  No passion.  No calling.

Instead of being grateful for an awesome job, he's miserable.  The real humor to his situation, is that (honest to God) I've talked to him since then, and he's actually thinking of moving to Idaho and going to work at a Hotel.