This article is for those of you making or considering a career change into the I.T. industry, while those that already work in the computer biz will certainly identify with the message. Many people make the change because the money is typically better, however, one important point is often forgotten - We work very hard for our money. This is one very stressful business. This article will present a tour of some of the things you should expect if you decide to take the plunge(or maybe you have and its too late).
» Business is being conducted more and more with the use of computers which means that their importance is increasing all of the time and they are increasing becoming directly linked with a companies bottom line. Think about how integral a role email plays in business today, for example. What happens when it doesn't work? People freak out and the onus may fall on you to fix it.
» We work long irregular hours and are often on call. In many positions, you will be like a doctor that may have to drop everything and head to work in the middle of the night to nurse a crashed server back to health. You may never get to go home in the first place. While 5pm may mean that it is time for dinner, it won't always mean that you get to eat it at home. In many positions, you won't leave unless everything is working correctly. When you do get to go home, you may have to take unfinished work with you. A visitor named Lee wrote:
"This is a frequent topic of conversation around where I work. People not in the field don't understand. We'll be tossing the football around the department and people will walk by and always comment about how little we have to do. They don't see us in here at 3AM on a Sunday trying to get the web server upgraded. Or it's 7:30 AM and the Exchange server is down and we have 15 minutes to figure out why. Weekend before last I came in at about 11AM on Friday and left on Sunday evening at 9PM. We were converting our 9 Novell servers to NT and changing our IP addressing scheme from class C to class B. When I came in on Monday at 10AM people were giving it to me about how nice it must be to work in IS where we don't have to drag ourselves to work until 10AM. I was ready to kill......"
» People get the angriest about the things that they don't understand. The people you support, whether internal or external customers, will typically know less about computers (or whatever your field of expertise is). When things break, it affects their work and will often negatively impact their day. You will often get the brunt of their frustration. Learn how to diffuse angry people.
» Egos run rampant in this business. It can be a competitive environment where those "in the know" have little patience for those that don't. Sometimes heads will swell, tempers will flare and battles will erupt.
» Like politics? IT professionals should be required to have a minor in Political Science. Whenever possible, try not to get involved in any of this. Nobody wins.
So after all of this, why do we do it? When you fix things, you are the hero. Irregular hours usually equate to a flexible schedule. Frustrated users will view you as a savior. While some are egotistical, there is much comradery and teamwork. With experience, the money can be very good. Most importantly, we just love computers!