IT can be an extremely rewarding career path, but it takes a special personality to make it. It is very demanding and challenging but also extremely rewarding. It isn't uncommon for the CEO of a large organization to personally take the time to thank you for saving the servers on a Sunday night. You get to play hero without a cape more than you can ever imagine.
Let's dive into it and see if you have what it takes!
Just like technology, IT is in constant flux. What is standard practice today, will be re-invented, re-imagined and completely gutted tomorrow. What industry do you think invented the term “Disruptive innovation”? So how do you keep up with the ever changing landscape? Well, the secret to a successful IT person is to enjoy the non-stop learning you must face. To stay on top of things, you had better read up every day. I recommend spending at least 30-60 minutes per day reading blogs, software vendors websites, different SaaS vendors, tech news, etc to stay with the curve. If you have extra time, you can devote that to finding out what is coming next rather than what it here today.
Be prepared to eat sleep and breathe your work. Yes, you get family time and personal free time, but expect the occasional evening based email to come in, and expect to respond to it. This isn't just because they want to speak to only you. It is because you have specific information that is in high-demand. In IT, you work towards finding a special niche that you become a key player at. For example it could be Security, Networking, Virtualization, Infrastructure, Programming, etc. People with that special niche tied to their resume become harder to find, and thus are in higher demand. Yes, that also means a higher salary! It is tough to find good candidates to hire in IT, so you do get to pick and choose where you want to work. That ability also comes with a responsibility to your employer. Expect to deal with late-night emergencies from time to time! Gone are the days of a disconnected workforce!
Must Enjoy IT
With the breakneck pace of speed that you must work and the stress from things that will be demanded from you, comes a boatload of fun. IT people absolutely love their jobs, simply because of some key factors: insane amounts of control, insane amounts of freedom, and a very healthy dose of comedy. IT offices are usually very fun places to be, as everyone copes with their stress. There is an entire industry of novel products sold just for IT offices: Robotic controlled nerf missile launchers, cubicle magnets, batman slippers, steampunk coffee mugs, etc. Pretty much everything to let your inner geek come out and enjoy their spare time in between high-demand hours.
In the famous words of Dirty Harry, “You have to ask yourself one question… Do you have what IT takes? Well, do ya?”