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Low tech, high people. Do I fit?

By heatz ·
As a recent graduate of a two year technical school, (Computer Communications/Networks), I am beginning to have doubts concerning the direction I have taken. I enrolled in the program because of a plant shutdown that took my job of 12 years. Computer training, at the time, seemed a natural choice because I have always been very technically adept, and have enjoyed and understood computer technologies. But now I am starting to realize that my greatest assets and strengths are people and communication skills. Even though at one time I thought I was very bright technology-wise, 3 months as a Network intern has shown me that I lag far behind. My co-workers are all true "techies"; more comfortable around the machines than they are the people whouse them. I am the opposite. I understand the need for technology as a tool for business, but also know that business is built around people, not technology. So I guess the input I hope to solicit is your thoughts and ideas on where within the IT sector is the need for people skills more in demand than technical skills? And how best to parlay 2 yrs of technical training into that position? From the IT Managers out there, would you actively pursue someone with limited tech skills if they had very impressive people skills? Sorry for rambling, but would really like reader input.

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Technical training

by Cactus Pete In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

Teach!

Corporations pay fairly well to have trainers keep their staff efficient. Perhaps this is more what you're looking for.

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dpetrak hit the nail on the head...

by TomSal In reply to Technical training

I agree fully with dpetrak on this one.

Since you asked what IT managers think, well I am one of them.

It sounds like you'd be a very good fit for being a trainer in the tech field.

If you love to learn (put in hours of study) so you can master the material you need to train, then I wouldn't doubt it for a second - your people skills would shine as a trainer.

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People skills

by Oldefar In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

There are a couple of places where people skills are more critical than technical skills.

The first place is with technology sales, particulary when the decision maker is outside the IT realm. The current technology market makes this a tough area to get into however.

Next is user tech support. Most issues require only a little more expertise than the average user has to resolve. This is a technical area where people skills are critical for customer satisfaction. The big problem here is with the salary cap. Most companies use this area as an entry point rather than a career path.

Technical management, like all management, is more about skills with people and business than with the particular work skill. A possible path would be from help desk to help desk management to other technical management.

Project management is another area to explore.

Finally, user trainer. As with support, the required technical skill is more than the audience. If you are weak in technology, any techies you try to teach will chew you up in a flash.

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You May Still Be on the Right Path

by dave4e2open In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

Depending upon the company/department you work for, your training and preferences may be an important combination. If you can apply the current/future technical landscape to the business need and objectives, you can be an important liason between user and technical management. If you either identify a gap between what the business need and what the network can currently provide, or can show management what features/processes new networking software/techniques can help the business, you could be a very valuable asset.
BTW, good teachers/trainers possess a combination of education and practical experience. You may not have enough of either to go that route.
Good Luck

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Try Business Analyst

by opatzg In reply to You May Still Be on the R ...

At our company we used analyst not so much in a technical support area but more as a gatherer of needs and nowing capabilities of pc's and the programming staff.

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Tech Support Requires Good People Skills

by mailcheck12000 In reply to You May Still Be on the R ...

Hello,
I won't drag this out. I bartended for 15 years and then decided to go to college to learn about computers. After graduating with 2 degrees and taking a job configuring PCs in a factory environment, I interviewed for a help desk job. Since most of my responsibilities find me at a user's desk helping with a software issue or just showing a user how to edit a document, these skills are mandatory. When I was hired, I was told that my people skills out weighed my lack of experience. Solook around and find the area that fits you best and emphasize your people skills...I did.

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your niche is where you make it.

by MallardtooXX In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

okay heatz here is the deal. If I am looking to hire someone I am going to look at my big three. In your case you have at least one of the big three in your favor. The problem is a responsible IT manager is going to need to asses all aspects of the pie not just a piece. I think you have made a career choice that is a tough one. If you want to parlay your two year degree I would suggest you look into what the rest of this thread has suggested. I would also say that you need to evaluate how you want to progress. I think you may be surprised at your skills. You may be trying for the wrong niche altogether. I would suggest looking into consulting or sales, they are not so much nuts and bolts IT as they are Generalities and basic Charisma. Don't abandon yourself yet there are opportunites for you everywhere, you just need to stepback and look at them.
BTW the big three are Experience, Adaptability, and Charisma. Hang with your charisma, it will help you in the long run.

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Don't let them side-line you!!

by jenniferN In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

I'm a little sad to hear folks try to divert you off to sales or training.

Tech service depts need people people.

I've had a very successful & enjoyable tech career with a profile that sounds like yours. It may be true for you, as it'd be forme, that the right place isn't in a large tech dept who all sit in dark rooms tweaking the registry, taking stuff apart or programming PIX firewalls.

I have worked in small operations: ie 80-150 PC's, as sole Support/NW Manager or with 1-3 staff. I was lucky to start in a large Corp HQ, before it was computerised, so I grew with them, eventually leading on network installs, HW/SW procurement, all of which included liaising at high level with CEO/Board AND SECRETARIES. I put training at thecentre of the support operation, especially of the admin staff, and built alot of good will, satisfaction and respect. I have found some "Tech geeks" to be dismissive & disrespectful of (esp female) admin staff, and unwilling to give user trainingtime they need. I won't hire these people for a IT service role. They have a place in the background for sure. I've worked yrs in the charity sector, again doing it all - business anaylsis, networks, bringing in contractors when my tech skills weren't specific enough. Back to the Banking sector where my ability to understand the business meant I had the trust of the Directors to manage the IT service.

Many of the places I've worked suffered from techies doing the job who'd spend days dismembering equipment to fix it, not understanding that the most important thing is JUST GET THEM WORKING - even if you hire an engineer for a day - not doing it yourself doesn't make you less technical: they'll love you more. Simple stable systemsare my mantra.

In short, go for smaller organisations where they can't have techs who only communicate through business analysts - where they need you to be both.

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Thanks to all

by heatz In reply to Don't let them side-line ...

Thank you all for the valuable input. Every post offered something constructive, and as I contemplate my future in this field, all suggestions will be taken into consideration. I probably understated my technical proficiency in my original post, which was written after a very frustrating day on the job where the problems outnumbered the solutions 2-1. (I've been told this is the norm. Argghh!) I just think I'm discovering that digging in with the nuts and bolts of technology doesn't bring near the satisfaction as does simple human interaction. I do find great satisfaction in my Help Desk duties. Unfortunately, as Oldefar noted in his post, these duties have traditionally been reserved for entry level personnel, even though I personally think that this is one of the more important functions of the IT department considering you are providing service to the network clients that drive your business.
I think what I needed more than anything was a dose of confidence. I am fully aware of the disadvantages I face regarding the level of formal education that is preferred(required)for positions on the business or non-technical side of IT. I certainly want to pursue a Bachelor degree, but as a 34yr old husband and father, it will take sometime to complete. In the meantime, I'll continue to grind it out with a keen eye open for desirable opportunities. Thanks again for all the replies.

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You have ore options

by phildz In reply to Low tech, high people. Do ...

There are many options availble to trained people though your experience is in networking you mightwant to try developing web sites. I alsowent through a two year technical program... only the progam i went through was based on webdevelopment rather than networking because i too am a people person. I have been able to network myself to local businesses in my area and i have been able to make decent money at it. You may want to take a couple of extra classes to extend you knowlege base and make some decent money and not have to deal with the "tekies". I wish you the bs of luck in whichever path you choose. Oh and one more thing you dont have to take classes on certian things, you can also buy a book and take a certification test...anywaygood luck.

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