Faces of IT

I just recently had an interview with an IT manager who elaborated on a preconceived notion I had about the types of people that go to college, graduate and get a job in IT. Putting the two thoughts together, it goes something like this:

When a person goes to college they have the choice to take computer related courses and eventually get a degree in that field. There is the type of student who chooses this field because of their belief that they’ll make a lot of money, etc cetera, we’ll call them surfers (one reason is that they are surfing the IT wave and another is because they think that just because they can navigate the web they are qualified to operate a super computer). These types aren’t interested in the field at all, just the glamor that is associated with it. Of course there are different reasons why people chose to study CS/CE or MIS, but we are only concerned about the people who graduate and attempt to get a position in the IT field.

Then there’s the type of student who chooses this field because that’s what they were BORN TO DO, we’ll call them naturals (obviously). Get my meaning? There is nothing else they care about, but IT. They have the heart and soul of an IT professional and are curious about new technologies and have the natural abilities and qualities desired by IT managers. Naturals develop their skills their entire life and when they do hold an IT job they don’t stop working at the office, they have a lab at home they use to further develop and hone their skills.

Somewhere in the middle are the folks who have the abilities and qualities desired by IT managers, but aren’t in the study of CS/CE or MIS. We’ll call these people lost (from the perspective on an IT professional we need you, but you’re lost and we can’t find you). They more likely study Finance, Business or Philosophy. Only later on in their career do they realize they can do the job and love it at the same time.

Professional Work:
The surfers are prepared (more or less with a degree) by their respective colleges, universities or technical schools and they get that first job in the IT field. What they didn’t expect was that it’s harder than they thought and they need to actually do some real work. God forbid they might actually have to write a line of code. What’s that? Write code? I never once wrote code in college. they say with great surprise and astonishment. Their IT peers will give them assistance with only intermediate or advanced problems, but will leave the surfers to figure out the basics for themselves. Of course, they should already know the basics. Right? It turns out that the surfer doesn’t have the aptitude or problem solving skills to do the job. After a while the surfer becomes distraught and eventually loses patience with it all and switches fields (before management forces them).

The naturals thrive and do well in their field all the while holding a degree possibly from the same university or technical school as a surfer. They are educated the same as a surfer, but probably got more out of it and actually when home and practiced the coding assignments. Naturals could possibly be the ones that start computer clubs or the like. When they get in the work there’s no stopping them. Granted, everyone is green at first, but get past that stage soon.

The lost are eventually pulled to the IT field in one way or another and they realize they can do the job and at the end of the day go home satisfied. Here again, they don’t really practice CS/CE outside of work, but they are still able to do their job well. Problem solving and aptitude are not a problem for them, but they still need help from their IT peers (mostly in cases of intermediate and advanced levels).

Moral of the story:
Don’t go into a field you don’t have the heart for. Choose something you like…even if it’s basket weaving.

I didn’t choose IT. IT chose me. Honestly, it’s what I love to do.