It's easy to dwell on the things that make it tough to work in IT. However, we also shouldn't lose sight of the fact that technology continues to revolutionize the world and IT departments have a valuable part to play in the transformation.
Last week I highlighted some of the worst aspects of working in the information technology business in Five things that suck about working in IT. This week it's time to turn the tables and look at five things that make it great to work in IT.
5. You're the hero when you solve problems
When an employee is desperately trying to get a critical project plan finished under deadline but accidentally deletes the latest version of the file and then calls IT in a panic, an IT professional can swoop in and recover the file. Pow! Instant hero status. Some grateful employees will even bake you cookies, invite you to the finance department's annual barbecue, or tell everyone in the company who will listen what a miracle worker you are. Those are the days when this job will make you feel like a king.
4. You get to play with cool stuff
Although most IT pros spend more time babysitting older technologies than they do implementing new ones — as I first noted in 10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT — you'll still get to play with plenty of new stuff, too. Whether it's deploying cool new laptops and smartphones for executives and senior managers or implementing the latest server and networking gear in the data center, it's always fun to get new gear in the IT office, pop it out of the box and see what it can do. For the IT pros that really love tech, this part of the job is like being a kid that gets paid to play with the world's newest toys.
3. You help make people more efficient
When you break it down, the IT department's job is ultimately to maintain the highly-complex tools that help modern workers do their jobs — and to implement new tools that can make those jobs even more efficient. It's all about streamlining business processes. There's a tremendous satisfaction in helping workers take a process that used to take 2 hours and through a bit of software and automation magic turn it into a 15-minute task.
2. Your job is rarely dull or stagnant
There are some jobs in IT that can be dull and monotonous, such as running backups or low-level programming where you spend most of your time fixing bugs. But, those are definitely the exception and not the rule. For most of the jobs in IT, the products and the conventional wisdom it takes to manage them are changing so fast that IT pros have to constantly educate and re-educate themselves just to keep up — and keep their jobs. IT pros sometimes complain about having to do this continual self-education (often on their own time), but this is also part of what makes it great to work in IT. There is a natural excitement and energy in IT because the field is evolving so rapidly and there's always something new to learn.
1. You get to be a revolutionary
From the continuing leaps in microprocessors to the arrival of Web-based applications to the coming spread of wireless broadband, technology remains a revolutionary force in business and in the lives of average citizens. IT professionals have the privilege of being able to serve as catalysts in the revolution, if they focus their efforts on using technology to improve the organization and the lives of its workers every day.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about how technology is changing the way we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.