Education

10 signs that you ARE cut out for IT

We've looked at why IT might not be your best career choice -- now it's time to consider the flip side.

In my recent post 10 signs that you aren't cut out for IT, I pointed to some reasons why you should consider leaving the IT field or not going into it at all. IT is a major challenge -- but many people are more than happy to meet that challenge. If you're concerned about whether an IT career is the best match for your personality and skills, here is a list of signs that you may be perfectly suited for a career in the IT field.

1: You're patient

The field of IT requires a lot of patience. Whether you're waiting on downloads, end users, server reboots, or installs, you will, on a daily basis, have to wait. You might even find yourself dealing with a problem that takes day or weeks to resolve.

Without patience, you will give up and you will lose clients. And the loss of clients means a loss of income. If you have no patience, that is what you're up against: a loss of income.

2: You love to learn

If you dive into IT, know that this will be an ever-growing field in which you will always have to learn. You'll have to take classes, study on your own, certify, stretch your skills. The need for education is inherent in IT. If you love to learn (especially about technology), IT might well be the perfect career for you.

3: Your schedule is wide open

Some people understand the motto "Whatever it takes" ...and others do not. Those who get it know, full well, that sometimes work spills over into personal schedules, and that's just something that must be accepted. If you fall into this category, you will have no trouble falling in line with the heavy hit your schedule may take when you work in IT.

4: You love technology

There are two types of people -- those who love technology and those who don't. If you do not love technology, you may as well leave now. But if the idea of technology really gets you going, IT might be an ideal career for you. If swing migrations, bare-metal backups, Exchange rollouts, and the like really make your heart pump, you're in the right family.

5: You like people

I'm not suggesting you must be all "Up with people!" But the idea of end users shouldn't make your hair instantly fall out. If you like dealing with others and helping people solve their problems, IT could be a good fit for you. And you will deal with people. The stereotype might be all about sitting in a server room debugging code and setting up hardware. But in reality, you'll be in the field dealing with end users on a daily basis.

6: You love a good problem

If this is the case, you're going to LOVE IT. Why? Because IT is nothing but one problem after another. They don't stop. In fact, the problems run into one other, piling up like monkeys clamoring for bananas. And you won't be able to escape those problems. The second you think you've resolved the day's problems, another bunch of issues will pop up and smack you square in the face.

7: You have the tenacity of a Jack Russell terrier

Some problems don't ever seem to want to go away, and they will really test your mettle. If you give up easily, forget it. But if you can dog a problem until it's completely gone, IT may be a great match for you. You will need tenacity on your side on a daily basis. Without it, you'll give up before you've really begun the fight.

8: You are a multitasking machine

At any given moment, I have three to four projects open on different monitors. I spend all day multitasking and it is absolutely exhausting. If you can multitask like an octopus, IT might well be suited for you and your Ganesh-like arms. If your brain works best when challenged by multiple tasks at once, you could do splendidly in IT. Just make sure you know how to pace yourself. If you multitask too much, you will burn out.

9: Your see yourself climbing the ladder to CIO

If becoming a CIO is your goal, and you've structured your entire life around that goal, IT is your career. Just understand that is going to be one long climb. You'll start out on the ground floor and spend most of your days grunting around with printers, forgotten passwords, and office suite issues. Eventually, you'll start getting bigger jobs working with servers, and may begin managing your department. Finally, the day will come with the dream of dreams comes true and you will be on top of every aspect of IT in the organization.

10: You can handle stress

This really is the big one (Elizabeth). IT and stress go hand in hand, and there is simply no separating the two. You need to be able to handle stress well, or at least know how to deflect it until you can deal with it later. There will be plenty. Honestly, if there is a single gut check in IT, it's this. You must be able to deal with stress, because it will hit you and hit you hard.

Self test

How'd you do? Are you still in the field? Do you think you have what it takes to make it through the day-to-day challenges of IT? It's a lot to consider. If you're already involved in the IT field, have any of the above points hit home and reminded you why you chose this career? If so, go back to that server and finish that Exchange migration, make sure the backups are running correctly, and respond to the five other tickets assigned emergency status!

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

24 comments
pggii
pggii

I feel like I should sue you for publishing an excerpt from my upcoming, as yet unpublished memoirs! Seriously, tho??? You pretty much hit the nail right on the head; and that's coming from someone who's been in the industry since BEFORE it's inception. - pggii

Martinph
Martinph

1. Patient - putting up with slow learners and shit you really shouldn't. 2. Ok, not problem. 3. Have a life, don't allow work to interrupt it. 4. Why love technology? It's a job 5. Dealing with end users taught me to loathe most people 6. Ok, I love solving puzzles. 7. Tenacity isn't always an advantage - sometimes you need to stop and do something you can do. 8. Multitasking = working badly on several projects at once. Do one thing, do it well. 9. You will almost certainly not be a CIO, consider the number of techs vs the number of CIOs 10. Why should you have to handle extreme levels of stress? It's not worth it.

techno0001
techno0001

i can live for 1 day without technology:) IMA REAL NERD :-)

Dyalect
Dyalect

Willing to learn, able to troubleshoot and able to fix things without being spoon fed. There will always be barriers, red tape, and silly policies, but IT should have to know how to fix matters as they arise. Nothing worse than the "technical" resource throwing their arms in the air, walking away and saying "i dunno". Fix it!

Nightscribe
Nightscribe

After 20 years in finance I went back to school and got the coursework I needed to feel comfortable entering the IT field - and I've never looked back! Now after reading the top ten I've found I have 8 out of 10 qualities necessary which explains why I've been happier in my 7 years in IT than in any other job in my life! It's been tech-tacular! I'm just a techno nerd at heart! :)

Gromanon
Gromanon

I can get easily distracted sometimes therefore Multitasking is my weakness. Any suggestions on how to be better at multitasking in IT?

zekemilan
zekemilan

I agree with all the points mentioned and have found that since I retired last year, I haven't been able to stop helping people with their IT problems and am volunteering at a Charity that receives computers from various Schools when they upgrade. I check them all out and do what is necessary to sell them for the children the Charity is established to help. I love the technology, challenge and the fact that when I solve a problem, it means I still have it.

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

If this article is an indication I seem to have found my niche.

kylehutson
kylehutson

I think this falls in line with #6, but have you ever known an IT guy that doesn't have some level of ADD? And no, that doesn't mean #7 is out the window, one of the hallmarks of ADD includes "periods of hyper-focus".

kpthottam
kpthottam

Based on my definition of IT i.e Information Technology , IT includes software and hardware development. Project work and operational work , not just operations work ! For software development - the hours are pretty standard, if you are good at it, you can count on not having to cut into your personal time. And yes you can go for weeks without interacting with any one. If you are willing to interact with people you can move up the ladder. The 'windows GUI mouse only' type IT techs are the only ones who need to interact with people on a regular basis.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

Being cut out for IT means, for all intents and purposes, having no long-term or serious commitments either to other people or to other organization. In short, since work comes first (on a 24/7/365 basis), everything else becomes second-, third-, fourth-place, etc.

robo_dev
robo_dev

re-image and restore data from tape.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Getting your teeth into that problem and not letting go is definitely are requirements, but you also need to know when to spit it out. Sometime you just have to accept that you aren't going to find out what caused the problem and do what is necessary to get back on line: re-image that drive, recompile the app, reload the page, drop back to the previous version, whatever. You have to get a feel for when something may re-occur and it's worth troubleshooting, and when something is likely a one-shot problem to fixed the easiest, fastest way.

inouyde
inouyde

#8 - Octopuses and elephants... hooray interspecies metaphors! #10 - Hooray Sanford & Son references!

kylehutson
kylehutson

I highly recommend the system advocated by David Allen in his book "Getting things done". I won't tell you I'm great with all the details (e.g., my Outlook Inbox is nowhere near empty), but it has certainly been a step in the right direction for me. In particular, I make extensive use of the web/smartphone app "Remember the Milk" as the place where I write down any To-Do's (his system is more generic - just saying you need to have such a place). I check it multiple times daily for things I've forgotten as well as my long-term projects.

gechurch
gechurch

I'm exactly the same (no solution from me I'm afraid). And like you, I do it knowingly. It'snot neccessarily a bad thing though. Sometimes dealing with things as they come up works well (generally when the things that come up are very quick jobs) and sometimes it doesn't (generally when things that come up are larger jobs). The trouble is I'm still not very good at figuring out when to take which strategy. I love to say yes and do things straight away, but I frequently get caught out when what I think is a really quick job turns into a large one.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

are good at micro / hyper focus. My attention is where it needs to be to, if you want it somewhere else, then I've got to stop working......

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Our dedicated support people in general work extremely regular hours, almost regimented in fact not much scope for flexibility. Whereas mine, particularly on a push to release are all over the place, and I work ion a large team and I'm always interacting. More environmental than job related this sort of thing. Closests I've come to "no interaction for weeks" is contract developer with an unambiguous specification, and that was misleading as unambiguous != correct...

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

At my customer sites, I'm responsible for physical maintenance on everything from the T1 demarc to the end user. This includes router, switches, hardware firewalls, pcs, printers, fax, network troubleshooting, etc., etc., etc. The only thing I don't [officially] do is pull cable. This has been the case in every job I've held since I retired from the USAF. "Pointy-pointy clicky-clicky" is the least part of my job!

kylehutson
kylehutson

...mainly with your word "only". Yes, I work with people on their desktop issues, but there's a lot more that goes into making a happy client/coworker. Making something "just work" takes a lot more than point-and-clicky. It's a continuous feedback loop. IT is making things work or coming up with solutions. Being a code monkey, locked away from everyone else isn't IT (in the way most people define it).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You need to be able to break a process down into discreet segments. This is necessary for most programming and all troubleshooting. You have to be able to isolate the individual pieces of the whole.