DIY

The three stages of a tech career

Every experienced tech can relate to these three stages of the tech career. However, it might be helpful for the new or prospective tech to read about them. The list is short on purpose. It makes for quick and easy reading. This is a work in progress. You wise and grizzled vets add your comments. I'll revise it with the best input.
Stage one - You don't know much

You are in awe of all the other techs. You make a lot of dumb mistakes. You feel like you are swamped all the time. You have to read a lot before you dare try anything for fear of breaking something. Everybody dumps on you because you are the new kid. Things take longer for you to accomplish. You work a lot of overtime, often without pay. You don't get paid a lot. You wonder if you'll ever get a break. You realize that school didn't quite prepare you for the real world. Work hard. You'll make it.

Stage two - You know a lot of stuff

You're good and you know it. So does everyone else around you. They can see that you are good. You don't have to tell them. Things get done quickly. You even amaze yourself sometimes. You are valuable and can command a good salary. The managers and business owners want to keep you on board. They want you to be happy and offer perks to entice you to stay. You get calls from headhunters all the time. It is very flattering and a nice position to be in. Life is good. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Stage three - You don't know much again

Technology is passing you by. The young techs seem to know so much more than you. It takes longer to figure things out again. You are probably in a position where you can delegate so you do. You are most likely in a management role and spend more time with people issues than tech issues. You are looked on as wise and experienced. You seek input from other techs before making big decisions. It's not a big deal that you don't know all the details anymore. You've got the big picture. Let others work out the details.

19 comments
mwagner
mwagner

Stage 0 where you aren't trusted to do anything yet. You have no passwords to systems or keys to anything but your office.

techman1978
techman1978

I agree with most of the statements But to add my own point I think you should stay at stage 2 as long as possible but in most cases a choice is made somewhere in stage two which determines the next phase which is either move into a new technical role or area which put's you back at stage 1.5 IE moving from networking into netwrok security or pure infosec. your other choice is to move into management which is alos stage 1.5 because IT management is a skill unto itself and one must become profeicient at dealing with people, politics, and process. as well as keeping a handle on whatever area of technolgy was your forte' as well as broadening your scope to emcompass other technical disiplines in order to apply the proper technolgy to the issue at hand. Staying technical your entire career is extermly difficult or easy depending on the amount of drive.

DanLM
DanLM

be so good at? Dan

JPRuiz
JPRuiz

In my experience, stage 3 usually comes by seniority and not by any other criteria. Therefore, most IT Managers find themselves dealing with issues and aspects of the department that are not the reason they got into IT in the first place. The longer one can stay at stage 2 and enjoy it, the better. Once you get into management, it can be overwhelming to some and extremely unstimulating to others. And keeping current with technology is something that you seldom have time for.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

When you struggle in stage two , you go into management so you can delegate for stage three. My advice Stage 1, admit you don't know much Stage 2, realise you don't know anything Stage 3, pretend you do for upper management. If you 'know' something there's no ned to check, examine, look at, apay attention, devote any time to any more is there. oops !!!!!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Never think "I'm a great pilot who's been flying for ever.. I'll never have an accident.." Even if your a flying ace with more years experience than your own age, fly like your new.

mjd420nova
mjd420nova

I really didn't experience stage one as you stated, I entered into the computer age as an experienced and mellowed electronics tech that was pushed into the computer age by neccesity and the advancement of processors being used to take the place of operators who initiated the functions manually. To me it came easy and my inquisitive nature led me to buy and play with the early models of single board systems. The PC was the next logical step and just continued my advancement. Stage two was and has continued to be the extent of my career so far. I have been able to stay abreast of the new technology by again buying and building my own systems with the latest and greatest processors, video and hard drive systems (PATA, SATA). I am continuing to learn and as long as the advancements are released by the manufacturers for purchase by the public, I will manage to stay abreast of these new technologies. The only way the younger generation will be able to beat me will be by being able to carry heavier loads or a bigger tool kit. Nothing can beat experience and willingness to learn more. Each day I learn something new and when that ends, I will retire and leave the work to those younger ones willing to take over. The best and most valuable tool does not come in a kit but resides between the ears and must be tempered with an openness to listen and learn and a drive to expand that experience.

sboverie
sboverie

In the paradigm of the article, I suppose I am having an extended stage 2. I also have a strong electronics tech background. It makes a difference to know how things work without having to invoke magic or doublespeak your way through work. I learned things that are not taught any more, these things give me an edge over the youngsters. The best method of success is to keep being curious and interested in learning new things. Stage 3 may be an indication that one has lst interest in learning or caring to stay current. Admittedly, new technologies have a lot of headaches because the new technologies have not matured enough. Stage 3 could also mean you are not working the tech side as much as the admin or management side.

Shriks
Shriks

I am supposed to be at stage 3 but I am where stage 3 and stage 2 overlap.. that i am required to know and do and required to ask and guide and manage... most often, the project management positions are in this area where one has to be technically 'aware' and yet ready to contribute hands on than just manage people and money issues and now i am not sure what I really know and what I really want to ask :)

IrishMike
IrishMike

I would have to say that I am on the first stage but I have rarely made a mistake And don't get me wrong I've had plenty of chances to. This is my first IT job and after 4 months the IT manager left, leaving me to look after everyone and EVERYTHING before a replacement was found...which took 3 months! And i think I managed well, which has helped me get a bit closer to stage 2 and well its helped me get a new job too. not too shabby i must admit.

tmalonemcse
tmalonemcse

I got to thinking about how my view of the working world has changed recently. I wondered if maybe I had moved on to a higher plane of existence. No, I think I'm just getting old. I hope you enjoy my observations on the three stages of a tech career. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/techofalltrades/?p=145 I know my experience is limited and would like to add your observations to the post. Put your creativity to work and I'll add the best comments to the original essay. Thanks for participating.

robo_dev
robo_dev

of being the 'uuber-geek' and having to undertand in-depth about everything. My role is more IT governance /consulting/security/compliance, so I'm expected to be an expert on everything. I was tempted to say that phase three is where you know everything but care about only the things that interest you.

sylvain.drapeau
sylvain.drapeau

I would add a stage 1.5, the stage where you think you know so much more than a stage1er and make big mistakes because you really don't. Stage2ers often have many embarrassing memories of the 1.5 stage. :)

mikesnewname
mikesnewname

"When I was eighteen, my father was the stupidest man alive. "When I turned twenty-one, I was amazed at ho wmuch the old man had learnt in three short years."

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I never looked at it that way but boy was I dangerous at that stage. I once crashed most of the backend operations at a Walmart doing contract Cisco work during the holidays. They lost database connection to their home office, their debit/credit systems and inventory system for about 2 hours (in a time where they make several $100,000 a day in one store) because I just "knew" what I was doing. Once you're in stage 3 or even 2 the people in stages 1 and 1.5 call you names and think you're an idiot who can't get anything done. Often times it's because you're spending more time thinking a problem through to avoid disasters (since you've seen them first hand) than actually working hands on with the task at hand. Once you reach stage 3 all the previous stages view you as incompetent and not worthy of your position because they aren't seeing the big picture...they just want your salary!

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

yeah, 1.5..... the phase where you know enough to do the REAL damage.

RationalGuy
RationalGuy

... comes during 3.5 where you slide back down the tech bell curve and climb up the management ladder. Just as 1.5ers are just starting to get comfortable with tech savvy, 3.5ers are just starting to get comfortable with their management abilities. They begin to make policy decisions affecting entire departments with the same wanton abandon and sketchy knowledge that a 1.5er might only be able to unleash on an individual system. The 3.5er is close enough to his or her tech glory days, that he/she isn't quite aware those days are over. Listen for telltale phrases like, "Well, back in the NT 4 days we did it like this ..."