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IT Career... an oxymoron???

By Benjamin ·
Hello everyone. I have returned to the US after being in the UK for 8 years. While there, I was able to successfully join the world of IT and progress my career quite nicely. I was fortunate to get started in 1999, the year Y2K mania struck fear into most corporations everywhere. As such, I was able to work for several consultancies as we prepared major corporations for the "devastating" effects of January 1st 2000. Because of this I was able to obtain invaluable experience as I worked with and upgraded computer systems.

We all know what happened AFTER the cities of the world welcomed the new millennium so I won't talk about that. Fortunately for me, I was still able to obtain consulting work for other IT projects with some of these companies because I actually ended up saving them a LOT of money. I would take directors aside, go to the time and date settings of their PC, change them to a date in the year 2000 and ask them to work as they normally do. When asked why I did this, I commented that this is all you need to know about how your systems will be affected when January 1st rolls around. Because of this, I was called back to do legitimate projects. And I did this until last year when I finally decided it was time to return home.

Now, that I am home I have come to realize that IT work has all but dried up in my part of the country (Arizona) and the prospects don't look any better in other parts of the US. So, here I am providing phone tech support for a shipping company. Hmmmm. This can't be right. I keep hearing horror stories about how recent college graduates with a degree in IT can't even find a job! I'm sure a lot of you out there can remember the days when there were actually more jobs available than there were people to fill them. Not any more!

So, here I stand, (well sit actually) with 5 years of job related experience in everything from front end software and hardware support to running things and administrating from the back end. I can configure and troubleshoot just about anything out there and I can't even find a job in my field of expertise. The market is saturated with guys like me. Granted I don't have any letters after my name and have not actually taken the time to pursue such things as MCSE, CNA, etc. because I have the hands on experience. Now I am beginning to wonder where I go from here.

I am not asking for advice or anything. I would however be interested to know how many of you (and I am sure there are a lot of you) who have similar stories to tell and what you are doing about it. Supposedly with all the outsourcing that is happening, there "SHOULD" be more opportunities opening up for more technical jobs. Yeah, right! I'm thinking that if one of my friends who is an awesome software developer can't find a job, what chance in **** do I have?
I look forward to any and all posts to this discussion. Thanks for reading and all the best to all of you!
Ben

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Learn Psychology (or practice meditation)

by fbartolom In reply to It's the sad reality...

Well... it looks a long way from IT, but after all who are IT managers working with? Machines?! Wrong answer: people!
After all the big problem is not so much to manage computer, servers, storage area networks, firewalls or whatever: people able to manage those things "following instructions" come custom-made from the university (if not from high school or from a gaming contest).

So a wise worker should move away from the crowd and positionate herself where expertise is needed: in the position of those that "formulate instructions". And what do you need to formulate good istructions? Of course understand people and... here we come back to the title of the posting :-)

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Yeah, right...

by MT Pilgrim In reply to Learn Psychology (or prac ...

Give it a rest. I've heard that speech about "diversify your talents" to the point it begins to make one sick. Being currently poised on the threshold of having my position outsourced it would appear that your statement is callous, even typical of management pap. It's hard to compete within a field where some of us have given over 15+ years to the field that is now all but abandoning us for cheap labor markets. After going through more cutbacks, reorganizations, layoffs, et al, than I care to remember over the last few years my "diversification plan" is beginning to face the reality that both mid and upper-level management don't really care what is happening as they are driven by the proverbial bottom line. Being just north geographically from the originator, Phoenix (once an IT Mecca...) is just as bad with more jobs disappearing on a daily basis.

"Formulate instructions?" Sounds more like you need to get your steps back in the trenches of the real world. "Understand people?" Try fathoming the reasoning behind why stellar performances by those of us amongst the rank and file are being constantly rewarded with cutbacks.

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Diversify your talents or starve...

by Boomslang In reply to Yeah, right...

Try being in the woodworking industry in Oregon. Diversify or change what you do often to keep multiple income streams. It's nice to read about all the city dwellers who think they can keep one career all their life and never change. At least in the city, there are obviously more resources available to feed you than there are out here in the third growth timber where it's diversify or go on welfare.

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Think about an un-outsourcable job

by michael.oneill In reply to Diversify your talents or ...

I thought I saw the writing on the wall for programming jobs back in 2000. So I sat down and looked at my non-technology skillset to map out a career based on those non-tech skills.

I've always been a strong communicator, so I started looking at marketing and sales jobs for development tools. I ended up as a sales engineer in 2001: SEs need to have strong, hands-on technical skills to convince other IT folks that the product being sold can really do what it claims. The same problem-solving skills are needed to solve technical problems, and if you have regular user contact, you'll be fine with the sales side of things (with a little practice).

OK, may not be right for everyone. But it's a thought.

I also went back to school to get an MBA (NYU). Part of that was to diversify my options. But the other part was to guarantee my hands-on technical skills would be obsolete. I backed myself into a corner to force myself out of traditional programming jobs. (I am now in developer marketing for one of the big four Java companies).

Anyway, don't assume you need to run IT systems or program, just because that's your educational and experiential background. There's more out there. You just need to ignore all the acronyms for a little bit.

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Whine or act?

by tradergeorge In reply to Yeah, right...

I used to build PCs for a living. When that market ceased to turn a profit, I turned to IT and made a good living during the "boom". In 2001, I found myself in the same boat as the thread originator. Now, I manufacture candles, homemade soap and lotions to the tune of six figures after taxes.

One of my professors used to say, "If what you are doing is not working, do something else." Or, you could just whine about it until the bills come due.

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Act or Face Extinction

by Gorto In reply to Whine or act?

I started life in the Graphics industry as a Computer Graphics Artist. The computer tech's servicing our system were making far more money than me, so I started learning about computers and switched careers. That was 15 years ago. I became a Microsoft NT/2000 Admin and when the trend started to move toward opensource I moved in that direction. I did some consulting and eventually became a SysAdmin for a large book distribution facility. I had ideas and developed customer service skills to boot and was promoted to the Supervisor of our Technology group. Our I.T. Director is being pushed into the Business Development Division. I've been told that his job is mine to lose. Why! Because I'm filling a void in I.T. and getting projects done! Don't whine, find a hole and fill it. I.T. should be on the front line of Business growth and development.

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Act or Face Extinction

by Gorto In reply to Whine or act?

I started life in the Graphics industry as a Computer Graphics Artist. The computer tech's servicing our system were making far more money than me, so I started learning about computers and switched careers. That was 15 years ago. I became a Microsoft NT/2000 Admin and when the trend started to move toward opensource I moved in that direction. I did some consulting and eventually became a SysAdmin for a large book distribution facility. I had ideas and developed customer service skills to boot and was promoted to the Supervisor of our Technology group. Our I.T. Director is being pushed into the Business Development Division. I've been told that his job is mine to lose. Why! Because I'm filling a void in I.T. and getting projects done! Don't whine, find a hole and fill it. I.T. should be on the front line of Business growth and development.

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Act or Specialize

by huios In reply to Whine or act?

Th Key here is specialization. Too many help desk level / desktop Tech people when all the opening are in the specialized fields. If you think IT is drying up you are mistaken. I did a search for IT Jobs and I have found a plethora of jobs the problem is ther eare few people tha tqualify for those jobs. The key is to get your CNA or your MCSE or MCSA or get certified in CITRIX or UNIX or Java/J2EEE or whatever specialized area you desire. Its just like any other field, you must educate youself, get experience where you can, and pay the price to get the good jobs that are out there by the dozens just waiting for qualified people. If your looking to stay in the help desk or Desktop tech arena, good luck... anyone can do that stuff...what is going to set your resume aprt from the crowd? By the way.. check your states job bank, you'd be supprised at what jobs are avilable with the local Gov't.

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Exactly!

by scottma In reply to Whine or act?

I have worked, over many years, in several and completely different fields. Everything from cocktail waitress, to retail management, to systems analyst, to bridal salesperson. I have learned, no matter who you work for, other than yourself, the business does not care about you, the employee. The business is not going to put it's employees first in any business decision it makes. It's not good business, there are many stakeholders and possibly stockholders to consider. The "bottom line" is what is important, not the specific employee.

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may be calous but it's true...

by coldbrew In reply to Learn Psychology (or prac ...

The reply can be taken as calous but I know a lot of people who changed their whole career and are happy. I went into teaching and management after I was laid off. IT people are a dime a dozen and half of them are "paper certs" and couldn't operate a microwave much less a computer. It is a tough market out there for everyone in a lot of fields as the economy and the work force change.

Good luck to you.

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