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Choosing a New Career Path

By deusbelli ·
Let's face it. The IT sector has a pretty bleak future. Why? There are just not going to be enough IT jobs to go around; the market is already flooded with skilled people drawn in by the over-hyped tech companies of the late 90's. Now with the high demand for IT people a fading memory, we are left fighting tooth and nail for a help desk position. Will a healthier economy be the answer to our prayers? If the economy ever returns to 'normal' (though Americans are used to it, an economy sucking in and generating wealth at unprecedented rates is not 'normal') then there will be a more reasonable and (hopefully) sustainable demand for IT professionals, not a way over inflated, unsatble demand like that of the late 90's. By the way, did I mention that a few of the jobs might end up over seas?

So, what to do with all this IT knowledge? I have decided for myself that relying purely on technology skills for a career is too risky. I must find a new career path where my IT skills can put me at the greatest advantage. That's why I'm here; looking for suggestions. My background is summed up: BBA in MIS, ASP, VB, VBA, TCP/IP, Access, SQL, MySQL, HTML, Web Developer for 1 1/2 years, consulting (PC maintenance and custom Access programing) for about a year.

I am considering accounting or finance, yet I don't really like either field so I am looking for suggestions. In what career field could someone with my skills really excel?

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Have you tried Public Health??

by dohNotGood In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

Like a lot of people, I picked up my IT skills on the side. My formal education is in Health Education and Epidemiology. While working I started to attend night classes and eventually left my chosen profession to pursue the field of LMS development. For a while I was doing work in the insurance industry with on-line training development.

I finally decided to come back to Public Health and now I work at a State Agency where I have been hired to provide research in the way that we can utilize all the data that is collected surrounding Communicable Disease Control.

One problem was that I had to move. I still am in the same state but I needed to relocate to where the job was. Luckily my wife was willing to change everything for me.

So I guess what I am saying is that you should look at what you are really interested in, which in my case was the use of informatics in
Public Health and just start looking realizing that your dream job will require some effort on your part.

I have gone from writing code every day to more of a program manager.

I see that you have a degree that includes some training in BA. Are there other areas of business admin that you are interested in besides finance?

Additionally, there are a lot of jobs starting to open up in public health arena. I am not sure where you are located but look at your local jurisdictional health department.

Since coming back into Public Health I have been involved with the IT infrastructure surrounding Maternal and child health issues, SARS, Avian flu, as well as a whole host of other topics.

But you do need a plan and start on it sooner than later. It took me over a year to get hired on in the position that I currently have but it was worth the wait.

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Career solutions of Technical people

by bobfranks57 In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

I'm sure there are many options for people in the IT industry who are technically inclined to move into other industries to use their skills. In the early 90's I was a Senior Systems Analyst and felt that I needed to get out of IT. After doing a couple of years in internal Audit I realized that I enjoyed helping solve problems with technology and people. I chose to move in the direction of PRoject Management and since then have managed project raning from multimillion dollar revovations to business process and downsizing projects while continuing to implement software solutions. From what I can see the IT industry is in need of people who can get people to solve problems collectively and those with a strong inclination to the tech side of the business can contribute significantly in this venue...

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Crossing Over to another career....

by Geeen In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

Well you have to ask yourself - is it the career or the lack of facing the next level - I disagree that the Tech Sector is lacking as you state - there are many other aspects of the "Tech" Sector - which part are you in? With all of the emerging technologies out there, something has to peak your fancy. Alot of stuff is old to some, new to others, but there is not a lack of jobs - just a lack of people that want to work in those areas. For instance - Nanotechnologies is starting to really build and take off. But is that something for you, look around more before taking on something that doesn't make you happy.

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Career Path

by ggabagat In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

You have listed only your technical skills. Do consider also your soft skills and pick what you enjoy doing or spending most of your time. Why go into a field you are not excited about to begin with? Do things you enjoy and do it well. With a little bit of luck, money will come in later.

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Reflection, Reality, Re-Evaluation, Reformation

by OregonLighthouse In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

I too underwent a huge drop from an IT Manager to the ranks of the unemployed. Despite certain slanted posts from rabid Democrat-haters, I don't blame any particular administration or policy on this... in retrospect, it was bound to happen.

To pander to the charge of "pessimism" some have made towards the original poster, I also agree with that "the times, they are a-changin'...": More and more jobs are going overseas; IT pros are in vast overabundance; pay scales are nowhere near where they were just 4-5 years ago; the technology changes so fast nowadays that even a few months out of direct contact with the field makes you essentially "unemployable" unless you keep up with schools and new certs; and of course after the dot-com crash there are a lot fewer employers out there.

However, on the positive side, and despite anemic job and economic growth, there ARE jobs out there, even in IT. Sometimes it requires a willingness to relocate, or take a huge pay cut, or retraining in some related field to "fit" into an inexact match, but they're there.

In one of my previous incarnations, I was a career advisor. The advice I gave (in the late 1980's/early 1990's, one of our bigger recessions and job-loss periods prior to 2000) still applies today:

1) Reflection: Take a good, hard look at yourself. Not only your broad list of skills and experience, but perhaps most importantly your likes and dislikes, desires and dreams. It may sound silly, but it's really far more important to be doing something you're in love with than something you're trained to do. Are you HAPPY in IT? Do you wake up every day excited (or at least moderately pleased <smile&gt to get to work and do what you do there? If not, it's time to reflect on what your ideal line of work would be, within reason (although it may be nice to dream of making macrame laundry baskets all day long, will it pay the mortgage?).

2) Reality: Take a good look at your job, the job market, the industry, and this country's and the world economy. Do some research. Then face reality... is your job in danger, or is the outlook bleak for a long-term career doing what you're doing? If not, God bless you... you're among the lucky few. If so, you're actually amongst the majority. Current statistics show that the average person will change their CAREER (not just their job) at least FIVE TIMES in their lifetime. If your research shows that your job may be in peril, either immediately or long-term, then it's time to start considering a new path.

3) Re-Evaluation: a) Even if you find that the general trend in your career path is OK, it may be that re-training or at least a broadening of your skill-base would be in order to make your job prospects more aggressively marketable in the future. Consider completing that Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, or certification that you've been putting off. Even more, consider getting skills and education in a totally different area which complements your existing training, either by going back to school for that second degree or by asking for work or projects at your current job either in another department or otherwise outside your current "position description".

b) The other side of re-evaluation is on the home front. Make sure your current living style, family life, and economic condition are as lean and "portable" as possible. What this means is that despite having what may be a nice salary NOW, don't live like it. Rent, don't buy. Drive the old car. The washer and dryer still work, keep 'em. Eat out less. Save money. What all this prepares you for is the possibility of having to relocate (often with little notice), to take a lower-paying position without hardship, or possibly to reconstruct your entire career around a whole new paradygm... such as getting out of IT altogether.

4) Reformation: Finally, as the philosopher Ernest Holmes said, "Change your thinking and you'lll change your life". We IT people have come to believe (thanks to the hype of the 1990's) that we were indestructable, unassailable, and indespensible. Sadly, despite at least four years of evidence to the contrary, many of us still retain this shocking lack of humility. The truth is everything changes. There is no life without change... the alternative is death. What is true of our bodies is just as true of our careers... we must change to survive. This doesn't mean just learning new tricks and technical skills... sometimes it requires real change, including reforming our career paths (and lives) into a more flexible, attractive package for potential employers. This involves opening ourselves up to new opportunities, new paradygms of our personal lives, and new future-looking outlooks for our careers.

I worked in IT for nearly 20 years, off and on. I left my last IT job in 2002 to start up my own company, which didn't fly once I found out that two of my partners bailed with their funding (and trust me, I've learned from THAT little episode... like getting everything in writing <smile&gt. I spent eight months basically unemployed, taking little IT contracts here and there to keep my car payments up. Finally, I followed my own advice and started the Four R's... to find, after facing the "reality" portion, that I don't really want to pursue an IT career anymore, not as my PRIMARY job anyway. I will always use my IT skills... but now I am going back to school to finish up a new Bachelor's degree in Sociology, which I plan to use in counseling and research. I also finished up my studies towards becoming an ordained minister, and have taken a full-time job as an Executive Assistant (with some Web duties) to get me through the schooling.

I am tranforming my life around a new paradygm, and I am happy. Perhaps the best advice I can give is simply this: Do what makes you happy, and don't look back. Every path we take in life is the right one, because every path teaches us something new, and learning is why we are here on this Earth.

Thanks for letting me contribute. I hope this helps someone in some way.

John Cline

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You need to look at your skills differently

by necoil In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

Everything you have described as a skill has in some way to do with information/data management and access. There are a number of fields beyond accounting and finance that have to deal with overwhelming amounts of data. Many companies in a number of service industry sectors -- engineering, health care to name a few, have not made the complete shift from paper to electronic. They may know that they need to be more sophisticated with their data management, but they don't have any concrete idea as to what the end product looks like or even how to get there. And the idea about how their employees would use and access the data isn't even thought out. Someone with your background could be a tremendous help. The trick is to actually know enough about how the business works and competes in the market and how people use the data and why. This are the things that techs are weak on so they come up with a clean programming solution that does not in any way reflect the individual user's real world work i.e. not intuative. A programmer who knows the business can often solve the technical problem and improve the work process. That's why I think you should figure out an industry sector you would like to be in and then find out what what they do with their data and how it can be better.

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Technology Management career possibilities - education for starters

by viennamicro In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

I've considered the ramifications of outsourcing, etc. and settled on my need for an additional degree in Technology Management. Several universities across the nation are offering similar programs, most notably the University of MD and Marshall University in the east. One of the few constants in ANY career field is change and someone will have to manage it. I've found having a technical background in IT is a very real plus in pursuing a position in this "new" career field.

Here's a brief overview of the program:

The M.S. in Technology Management degree program is designed primarily for working professionals with both technical and non-technical backgrounds who want a better understanding of technological change and its relevance to competitiveness and business strategy. Program course work has a practical emphasis, with real-world projects designed to develop skills that can be put to use on the job immediately.

Areas of emphasis are:

M.S. in Technology Management with emphasis in Environmental Management
M.S. in Technology Management with emphasis in Information Technology
M.S. in Technology Management with emphasis in Manufacturing Systems
M.S. in Technology Management with emphasis in Transportation Systems and Technologies

The primary differences among the degrees are 3-4 courses in the area of emphasis, making the possibility of dual areas of emphasis a real possibility (most of the area of emphasis courses could be used to at least meet the "elective" requirements of another area of emphasis).

Following is a link to a more detailed listing on the program at Marshall University:

http://www.marshall.edu/cite/academics/programs/PDescTmGCur.htm

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Experience

by mcomps In reply to Technology Management car ...

There are alot of good points made by everyone who has contributed to this discussion. I have already made a small jump from concentrating on IT networking to more of accounting/finance area, and let me tell you the market demand is not that great for people without experience in those areas also.

I would suggest that you redefine what you have learned from your application of your IT knowledge. For example, why did your boss/manager want you to make changes to the programs, how did that help the organization. Some of the points that a business focused education would expect you to learn.

If you decide to go back to school (not to teach) definitely choose a program that has a high success rate in placing its candidates with internships or post-graduate careers. The market is flooded with experienced people in all career fields which makes it difficult for new graduates seeking jobs.

There probably many other factors that you need to consider before you make your choice, but if you have to work for the rest of your life it would be wise to choose something that you like and something that you do well.

Good Luck!

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Health care Research

by eakaroll In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

Have you thought of taking your skills to the clinical research arena? There is a demand for SAS programming and database skills. You may need to pick up or update some skill sets but there is a demand in that area.

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Business systems / Project management

by Alfred E. Neuman In reply to Choosing a New Career Pat ...

It looks like you have a solid education. These days it seems the way to get ahead in IT is to be able to
handle more of what used to be management work and integrate your IT knowledge. There may not be a shortage of PC techs but there does seem to be a shortage of knowledgeable management especially when it comes to planning and implememting technology.

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