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Real Value of IT Work?

By Packratt ·
Recently I've been pondering a lot about the real true value of what I do for a living, that being IT of course. When I say real value, I mean, what can I point out to my children and say "look, dad did this and it helps people and is worthwhile because ______."

I'm asking myself (and all of you) this not just because I think IT is being killed in the US as a potential career path, not just because business views treats us as a cost center and annoyance instead of an asset... But because I always wanted to help people and make a difference in this world, not contribute to it's problems and I wonder now if a career in IT doesn't do more harm than good in the big picture.

Seriously, I wonder... what have I done in this career other than increase efficiency and thus help line the pockets of already very wealthy people with even more wealth by allowing them to do the same things with fewer workers and thus put other people out of work who needed that money more?

As you can tell, I'm looking for more substantive answers other than "I saved my company x dollars" or "I helped a user figure this out." or "I got our network to run more efficiently." I'm looking for something of real value, something you could point out to anyone and explain in real tangible terms how your job made a real difference.

Is IT truely just a cost center, not just in the eyes of business, but also in terms of social worth? What real true value to the world do you think you have as an IT worker that makes it worthy of holding on to or sacrificing so much of your life for?

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packrat - time to volunteer

by dirtylaundry In reply to Over 10 Years

Seems as if you might need to look into volunteering your time and knowledge somewhere such as a blood drive outfit or local shelter or even your kids' schools utilizing your skills to feel as if you are helping your fellow man. Tho do not overlook that there is a great deal of value and pride in being a father, husband, dad and provider to your family as too often this is taken for granted. I have felt as you have and left the corporate world to become a PA for a disabled person that needs both my personal care AND my computer skills while also providing an in-home pc tech service in my surrounding area. I do not make as much as I would if I had stayed in the business world, but then I have no family to provide for so I can take more liberties. Taking all this to mind, I'm sure there is a way to satisfy your obvious need for further meaning and impact in the world while simultaneously upholding the extremely valuable position and pricelessness of being a family man.

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Dead on!

by buschman_007 In reply to packrat - time to volunte ...

You have to look at this in a glass is half full type situation. I work in IT and while my 9-5 contribution to mankind might not be staggering, I volunteer my time on the weekends to my Animal rescue ( That is an extremely fulfilling activity. I take a portion of the money I make in IT and donate it to the rescue. I have asked my boss to sell things, like old printer cartridges and other things that we as a company no longer need. Those sales go to the rescue. Other workers in my office do similar things for their churches, fund raisers, and charities.

I buy and sell more than any other person in my office. Being in IT is an advantage to me because of the cash flow that I deal with and the assets that are in my posession. Ask your boss if you can use your job to help others for whatever organization you feel strongly about.

Don't worry about what your job does for mankind, worry about what you do. If your job can aid in that passion, great! If not, it shouldn't hold you back from doing something wonderful for someone or something else.

Good luck with your quest,

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Education Needs Help

by RetAF In reply to packrat - time to volunte ...

There are times in the past when I felt the same way when I was in a different career. However, I am now working in a local school system as a middle school technology assistant. The joy I get seeing the students grow, both in their knowledge and learning how to use computers, makes it all worth while. I stepped into this position about four years ago when the technology at this middle school was going down hill. Although, I was supposed to be helping in other areas around the school, I took it upon myself to get the technology program back on its feet and stop relying on the district's tech support as the previous technology assistant was about a year behind in all aspects from software upgrades to equipment repair. Now the only time I see tech support is when I am stumped and call them to get another eye on the problem. I know I still have much to learn in IT, and I could make more money working for someone else, but working for the school system has big rewards by watching the students grow in all aspects, not just technology. Granted there are times when I see the district tech support trying to work on a shoe string budget in our poor district, but it could give you some pride in your work knowing you can do things you are not expected to do, because you want to make things better. Do not give up on yourself or your career, try different areas in IT. Good Luck!

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Split your time.....

by bill.affeldt In reply to Over 10 Years

It sounds as though you are feeling a little socially bankrupt at the moment. So my advice would be, reduce those free hours you are giving the comapny by a little and maybe volunteer your efforts to a 'worthwhile' cause. Use your skills and knowledge to help make the Tsunmai warning system better. Help a homeless center set up a system where people can look for jobs via the Internet. All the while use you job as a place to make a difference but mor eimportant to win/win and keep your skills current and viable so you can make a difference when the opportunity presents itself.

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Fulfillment not in career.

by steverd In reply to Split your time.....

I would agree about splitting your time. I've been in various engineering, systems developement, and management positions over the last 25 years. Although I enjoy my work, it sometimes left me hollow. I eventually realized that fulfillment came from areas other than work - family and spiritual areas.

I strive to do the best that I can in my career. I do it because it is a means to an end. It makes other things possile which are important - supporting my family, church, etc. This is where my heart is.

If you enjoy your career, don't try to get too much out of it. Use it as a means to an end and find fulfillment elsewhere. If you don't like your career, it's never too late to work towards a change.

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It takes all kinds

by jobothetechnopeasant In reply to Over 10 Years

Allow me to draw a few analogies and hopefully not mix to0 many metaphors :=)
Not everyone is going to be a trailblazer or a leader but both require followers.
Hopefully IT brings order (information) out of chaos (raw data points) thus helping to pave the way for the them.
Its not glamorous or even very rewarding to be the 21st century equivalent of bricklayer but where would the world be today without them?

If its my task to toil in the data-fields of the Info-Lords then I shall gladly do so. For there is honor and humility in a honest days labor.
Imagine a world where all workers brought a similar level of effort, diligence, dedication and passion to their daily efforts - would it not be a better place?

100 years ago the big advances were industrial. Now it technological. We're riding a great wave in a series thru the human experience, carried enexorably into the future. Fret not, friend, you are exactly where you're supposed to be and if you stay the course, your childrens children might not care but your children will.

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What kind of rewarding

by GentleRF In reply to Over 10 Years

What kind of rewarding are you looking for? Teaching certainly is one method when you desire to pass on the benefits of your lifetime of learning. I view things this way, if can touch in a positive way a single life, that should be reward enough. Because you cannot change the world like flipping a light switch, this does not mean one cannot begin a process of change. One area to begin a process of change is in teaching math or science. I have a son who is going to be an electrical engineer. While I didn't precisely teach him where to go, I did encourage him to find his own way and offer what help I could to get there. You could do a similar approach with those you propose to teach.

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Look beyond the job

by rfdemond In reply to Over 10 Years

Sometimes you need to look beyond the job itself as a source of fulfillment of your soul and look at what it enables you to do for others outside the work itself. For example, being in IT certainly pays more than a number of other professions that may have more of a feeling of self satisfaction and contribution to soceity. Use that to help others and contribute to the world. Also, as others have suggested, use your skills to volunteer to help others less fortunate, working with a charity to help train inner city children develop basic IT skills is certainly a noble and rewarding use of your skills. Lastly, don't be afraid to become a mentor to others at work. Personally, that is where I gained my sense of well being when in the Corporate world, I always had a few minorty or female employees that I provided career direction, sponsorship, basic life mentoring etc and I always found that to be extremely rewarding. I've been self employed now for 10 years, however, a number of the people I mentored over the years still keep in touch with me on a regular basis and it is extremely rewarding to see these people develop in their careers and in their personal lives and to know that I helped enable them to improve their lives and in turn helped them to help others as well. There are many ways in life to achieve the kind of self satisfaction and inner peace that you appear to be seeking, don't make the mistake of assuming that you can only achieve this through the work that you do, don't let your employment define you as a person, let your inner person show through by the way in which you use the gifts given to you and the resources at your disposal. I hope that this is useful to you...

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You can make a difference

by johnr In reply to Over 10 Years

I went through a similar career crises about 10 years ago. I like the challenge of solving problems that IT offers, but there was no other "greater good" satisfaction working on projects that I struggled to "beleive in." I was considering switching careers completely but through some luck and a little persistance found that I could work for organizations that do good work and need strong IT support. During a carrer search I stopped focusing on the traditional IT shops in my area and started searching for jobs with companies that did good work and just happened to need IT professionals (non profits, some governemtn agencies, etc.). In the past years I've been able to support initiatives including blood-banking, HIV/AIDS education and prevention in the US and abroad and Vaccine safety, to name a few. My pay has probably lagged those that chased opportunities with start-ups, telecom, etc. but I feel that no matter how bad the day has been, in the end I know I've been able to contribute to something bigger.

Hang in there, find your passion and follow it. I used to think that was a hollow assertion, but now I'm a beleiver.

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Line the CEO's pocket?!

by admin17 In reply to Over 10 Years

Unless you're working for a small company, in which the scale of a layoff would be greatly reduced, efficiency gains to not go straight to the CEO's pocket. The CEO is, by and large, a salaried worker like the rest of us (albeit with a few extra perks for being in his position). The CEO's job is to increase the profitability of the ORGANIZATION at which he is employed on behalf of the owners (shareholders). Those increased profits go to help fund the salaries of you and your fellow employees.

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