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IT careers for introverts

By computerguy124 ·
This might be a weird question, but does anyone know of any IT careers that are generally geared towards introverts? I work at a help desk, which has turned out to be quite an extraverted job. I'm willing to get more certifications if necessary, but I really need to move to an IT job that doesn't require a customer service personality. I'm finding the social aspect of my job to be more than I can handle. Any ideas out there?

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You're a little unusual

by amcol In reply to You always have a choice

A fascinating and inspiring success story, but unusual nonetheless. It's not many among us who have the skills, knowledge, fortitude, resources, desire, and/or opportunity to do what you've done. I'm impressed, and more than a little envious.

The only exception I'll take to your post is your statement that "Most IT careers are good choices for introverted personalities." That's precisely wrong, and precisely what's wrong with IT as a discipline in most corporate environments. IT is a discretionary expense center, and more to the point it's a support organization. EVERYONE in an IT organization should be providing that support...our jobs are to make sure other people can do their jobs, and you can't do your job unless you know what other people's jobs are (bad sentence construction but you know what I mean). People skills are absolutely required in order for that to happen.

The most successful IT organizations within corporations (I make a clear distinction here between internal IT departments and pure IT companies, like yours) are those that maintain a customer focus, those that are run like internal consultancies.

That's not to say introverts can't thrive in such an environment, but introverts must take up the challenge of working to an extent against their own personalities and natural tendencies. It's possible, and it's not even all that hard. It just takes a certain amount of desire, discipline, and practice. The rewards are enormous.

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Don't totally disagree

by tagmarkman In reply to You're a little unusual

""Most IT careers are good choices for introverted personalities." That's precisely wrong, and precisely what's wrong with IT as a discipline in most corporate environments."
I disagree with your disagreement. IT is a good place for introverts. I don't think it should have "only" introverts but an IT position is much better with an introvert than a sales person is.

An introvert does not mean that they can't function in a team. It doesn't mean they can "sell" themselves or their ideas. It doesn't mean that they can't collaborate. It simply means they prefer to be alone for energy or concentration.

An extrovert does not mean they are good at communication nor is an extrovert a good team player. Being an extrovert doesn't mean that they are good at collaboration or even polite when talking to other people. It simply means they they prefer the company of other people for their energy and thought process.

But I agree with you deeply in the fact the introverts must take the challange not to alienate themselves.. that they must put themselves in uncomfortable situations in order to be effective. However, it is less taxing on many introverts to be in IT than it is to be a salesman or other carreer that require much more contact with strangers.

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Two things,

by stan In reply to You're a little unusual

First, Every job require interaction with other people. Some require much more than others. There are lots of jobs that are entirely interaction with people. And, of course everyone must be involved in supporting their customers since the goal of any organization is to please their customers. But most IT jobs require less interaction than most other jobs, I'll stand by my statement that its not a bad choice for introverts.

Personally, I've always been involved in customer support to some degree. But never full time. I think its very important to spend a little time each week helping out in customer support. Its the best way to find out what your customers really think of your product, and what problems they have. And its the best way to come up with ideas for improving your product to make it more useful and easier to use.

Second, anyone can do anything that I've done. I'd like to think that I'm special, etc. but I know I'm not. Its not hard to get a broad variety of skills. It just takes time, working in a lot of different areas, and the desire to learn continuously. Many people work in one narrow area for a long time and eventually realize that they have been type cast and its very difficult to move into other areas. Don't let a day go by without learning something new. And don't let anyone or anything keep you from reaching your goals.

I've found that just about everyone is capable of more than they think they are, and eventually settle for where they are and never reach their true potential.

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Bad news, Stan

by amcol In reply to Two things,

The bad news is your post, and the attitude and approach it describes, makes a boatload of sense but unfortunately you're in the minority.

It's basic human nature (for most of us) to want to be comfortable. I can quote you dozens and hundreds of surveys about how the one thing that seems to rise to the top of most folks' Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is security, in any form. That's why it never ceases to amaze me why it is that so many IT professionals, who are supposed to be change agents as a result of training, temperament, and professional responsibilities, are in fact so willing to get stuck in comfort zones.

There are many professions that change with the frequency and rapidity of IT. My brother is a physician, actually a world leading researcher in the genetic causes and treatments of memory disorders. He and I talk about this all the time, how he has this constant mountain of reading material in order to keep up with what's going on in his field, and my mountain is equally high if not higher.

"Don't let a day go by without learning something new." Amen, my friend. Wise words.

I do not maintain, and have not in any of my posts, that IT is a bad place for introverts. Quite the contrary, there are quite a few things about the profession that attract those of us who are not naturally gregarious. My position is the same as yours..."everyone is capable of more than they think they are", and in order to achieve that you have to willing to stretch and learn and take a chance on yourself. It's hard for introverts to learn the kind of people skills that seem to come so effortlessly to extroverts, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. The rewards are more than worth the effort.

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Stretching vs Comfort

by talentonloan In reply to You're a little unusual

I think this thread has a lot of insight. As one who deals with a lot of introverts (including the one I meet every morning in the mirror) the paralyzing struggles of people deeply introverted in ANY kind of people-enterprise are familiar.

For any of us, exploring the other end of the introvert-extrovert spectrum is a stretch and that growth can be an important growth step to learning a 'deeper' comfort level - one that comes with the knowledge that one can not only survive, then strive, but also thrive in places that we never thought possible. This builds healthy self confidence and trust, that is one of those intangibles in 'success'. This is one of the great experiences of life - to overcome such inner obstacles, and I think it important to do that early on in one's career, rather than burrow into the 'comfort zone' along the spectrum, wherever it may be. And once some of those areas have been explored I think most of us seek out places later in life where we can be comfortable to a degree, but with the insight that we are not trapped there, but rather know that our skills and personality traits can be be best applied in balance in that context.

tol

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Choices?

by Praxius In reply to You always have a choice

I feel that being a geek is something you're wired for, and it is "usually" correlated with introversion. In essence, we didn't choose computers as a field, computers chose us.

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Lighthouse Keeping

by Golfloon In reply to Why?

With the exception of Lighthouse keeping I can't think of any other profession that gives that degree of autonomy and certainly not one in IT. I encourage my team to work as a team they get a lot more from it....

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Obviously not alone at all

by glennlnrs In reply to Here's a weird answer

Reading these posts have made me realise I am not alone at all with my past, as was shy too and didn't talk to people much. Though did join toastmasters for a while and worked a treat!!

So, get out there, meet people at social things too, and talk to people it will just be great. And I have sort of gone from Introvert to extrovert as feel the need to be around people, though not necessarily talking all the time of course, though learning about other people at least, and becoming more extrovert.

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You hit it right on the button..

by technicallyright In reply to Here's a weird answer

I absolutely agree with your advice and the rewards it will return amcol.

computerguy124, the harder road reaps you more rewards.

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Good answer for some...

by bernice.ward In reply to Here's a weird answer

...but there are more than a few of us out here that have clinical social anxiety. I am one of them. gThe social settings you describe would cause an anxiety attack in minutes, even with my meds. I have been fortunate to have an IT job where I work at home, but can go into an office if I so desire. I'm not a total hermit as that would defeat the purpose of my treatment plan, so do go to an office occassionally.

Unfortunately, my work from home is ending soon as Sun has decided to outsource most of their IT to CSC. I'm still struggling with how to go about finding a job after 8 years in one company.

My point is, amcol, your ideas are all very good and I hope they are helpful for some, but I know from experience they won't work for me.

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