Takeaway: IT pros often complain about the downsides of their jobs. But what if you really AREN’T meant for an IT career?
It’s a tough world out there. Anyone who’s ever worked in IT knows just how tough it is. And if you’re not totally up for the challenge, there will always be someone else who is. But for anyone considering getting into the world of IT, or for those considering getting out of IT…
how do you know? How do you know whether you are really cut out for the
career that chews up and spits out its young? Well, I have a handy list
of signs that maybe IT isn’t the best fit for you.
1: You lack patience
Patience is most certainly a virtue in IT. When some problems strike,
they strike with vengeance and most often require a good deal of time
to resolve. If you are without patience, you’ll either give up, lose
your mind, or pull out all your hair. But the need for patience doesn’t
end at dealing with problems. Many times, end users will test your
patience more than the technology will. If that’s the case, I recommend
that you either get away from having to deal with end users or (if
that’s not possible), leave IT immediately.
2: You have no desire to continue your education
IT is an ever-evolving field and without the desire to continue
learning, you’re already way behind the curve. This is one of those
fields where you must be okay with constantly learning something new.
That might mean taking a class or attending a workshop or just hitting
the books on your own. But no matter how you slice that education, you
must be willing to continue to learn.
3: You refuse to work outside 9-to-5
Technology doesn’t adhere to a set schedule. Servers go down whenever
they want and business must go on. So you must be willing to wake up in
the middle of the night, work long hours during the week, and work
weekends. If you’re someone who refuses to let your workweek interfere
with your personal life — well, the writing on the wall is pretty clear.
4: You don’t like people
Do I really need to expand on this one? Yes? Fine. The reason IT pros have jobs is to support end users
— aka people. If you don’t like people (and I know plenty who don’t),
you really shouldn’t consider a career in IT. The big irony of this is
that I also know a lot of people who have been driven to dislike people
BECAUSE of IT.
5: You give up quickly
How many times have you had an issue really test your abilities? Did
you give up or did you forge on until you managed to best that problem?
If you gave up, you did so knowing that you left something broken. That
is not an acceptable work ethic in IT, and if you’re okay with that,
it’s time to reconsider. Oh sure, there will be times when something is
beyond repair or an issue goes above your skill set. But if that’s the
case, it’s your responsibility to replace the broken tech or hire
someone in to fix the issue.
6: You’re easily frustrated
This is an industry that can frustrate even the most unflappable. But
if your frustration boils to the surface right away, you will spend
much of your day with high blood pressure. Although IT is a rewarding
field, it can also be a frustrating one. If frustration often gets the
best of you, you might want to consider a new career or stock in a
7: You can’t multitask
At any given point in a day, I am doing three or four things at once.
Sometimes, this is the only way I can actually get everything done in
the given timeframe. If you insist on sticking to one task at a time, IT
is going to be a tough career for you. That is not to say single-minded
people can’t succeed — but they will have a tougher time than those who
8: You have dreams of climbing the corporate ladder
There isn’t much room on the ladder within the IT department. If you
have dreams of climbing up and perching yourself on top, you might want
to consider a different field. Some IT departments do offer promotions,
and maybe you can even climb your way up to CIO. But if CEO is in your
dreams, IT is not the field for you.
9: You hate technology
This one should go without saying. But strangely enough, I know
people in the IT field who actually HATE technology. If you consider
yourself a technophobe, maybe being around servers, desktops, switches,
routers, and other IT-centric hardware might not be the best place for
you. Although it’s perfectly possible to work in a field you despise,
the added level of frustrations you will experience might end your time
on this good green Earth earlier than you expected. Take a pass on IT.
10: You turn off your phone at night
This relates to your work hours. Many IT pros I work with are on call
24/7. Their lives completely revolve around their networks, and if they
weren’t willing to have such a life, they probably wouldn’t have the
jobs they have now. The IT job doesn’t go away — it remains in the
background all the time, waiting to pull you from sleep, family
gatherings, the birth of your first child. If you’re one to turn your
phone off when you leave work, or even ignore those calls from the
office (even when said office is blowing said phone up), it might be a
good sign the that you and your career are not a good fit.
Tallying up the cons
Just because you suffer from one of two of these traits doesn’t mean
you should jump off the IT train and start flipping burgers. But if you
recognize quite a few of these signs, you might want to call it a career
and head back to school. To help balance the pros and cons, I’ll follow
up soon with a list of signs that IT is exactly where you need to be.