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Wow, how did I end up here? From Sales to IT

By jeffreygentry ·
I find myself in very unfamiliar territory, however I am hoping to find some insight or direction from the good people here.

Currently, I work in sales for a label (stickers) company. There are no complaints to be had as labels are in great demand in numerous industries. The location is great, the pay is great and the hours are great; all of which are key factors when you are ?attempting? to provide for a family in this economy. The only exception being that I am extremely unenthusiastic about the work I do. When you close a big deal ? you get a solid pat on the back and then its right back to the exhaustive process of uncovering the next big deal. What little satisfaction there is to be had is very short lived.

However two weeks ago, I found my self more excited and more preoccupied with my job than I ever had. I was making a spreadsheet. The basic function of the spreadsheet was to compare costs of one label material over another, but numerous factors that were involved in this comparison made the actual numbers very hard to arrive at. I found myself thinking about the process to get from point A to point B non stop. In the car, at dinner, over lunch; I actually put myself to sleep that night considering the possibilities of how, through this simple spreadsheet, I could derive the numbers I was seeking. When my project finally came to fruition, I gained a sense of satisfaction that to date remains undiminished.

If I look back, I can recall similar instances in my ?youth? (I?m 29 going on 30) where I still hold pride in some seemingly mundane function. This ranged from programming my TI-85 calculator in 9th grade to run a short animated game to scrutinizing my PC?s every process. Not because I needed to, but because I could.

My reasons for never pursuing the IT field are numerous, but I?ve reached a point where I?m looking to satisfy not only my families needs but my own as well. And I?m inclined to believe that perhaps my talents and enthusiasm are being flushed down the proverbial drain.

My questions to all of you who have endured reading this far: Where do I go from here? I laugh as I type, but does anyone enjoy a well thought out spreadsheet as much as I do? What kind of career can I pursue? Or what kind of education should I look at?

Any thoughts or comments will be gladly accepted.

-Jeff

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It sounds nice

by jeffreygentry In reply to To be honest:

That always sounds nice,

Be true to yourself, do what you want to do. I like images it makes me conjure up. But this is no easy task. As you mention, there are pro's and con's that I will need to pay attention to but appreciate the support Phillip.
--Jeff

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Ther'es a lot of work

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

particularly with excel macros and office automation. Whether theres a lot of money is another question entirely.

However you have a massive advantage and that's your experience in sales.
The biggest bullet they tend to fire at techs is we don't know how business works, far from true in many cases, but a charge that can't be leveled at you.

If you want to give it a go. I'd recommend MS's certs and then setting up a consultancy (you could build it up on the side maybe).

You sell labels to businesses, businessmen like spreadsheets, that's a substantial step straight into money.

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Good Idea!

by jeffreygentry In reply to Ther'es a lot of work

Excellent Idea Tony.

While my neck of the woods is small, it is growing very rapidly. I often hear that the only people available with these certs are charging a bundle because they have to drive so far to get here.

Thanks

-Jeff

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Been there--seen that

by mjd420nova In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I spent six years working in pre-press for a label company, so can speak from some experience. Try out computer graphics, designing and proofing labels. The latest trend in labels are the small folded types that are attached to items for instant refunds at the point of sale. I ran the night shift (4 days a week, 10 hour days) pre-press. I burned FLEXO plates, which involved proofing and checking the art work generated and appropriate negatives for rotary photo-polymer plates, selected the dies and mounted the plates to go to press. The most important part was the proofing, as if the negatives weren't right, the rest was junk. I saw many people pass thru the art department who didn't know their butts from a hole in the ground. The manipulation of photo shop and art generating programs may be right up your alley. It can be very rewarding and real pride can be taken in a finished product.

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A lot of work in prepress

by jeffreygentry In reply to Been there--seen that

We could certainly use someone like you! Prepress is always a struggle in our operation as the trapping is always done to much, or to little which as i'm sure you know results in tremendous down time for the press. I have thought about trying my hand with the grapic arts, but I think in order to really excel at it, you should probably have some artistic talent. I'm afraid to say that I am severely lacking in that department.

That said, I think if I had any of that talent I could see how that might be a rewarding area.
Thanks for the input mjd

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Become the technical person for sales

by grant@rb In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

When you finish the spreadsheet, show it to your colleagues. If they find it useful, see if there are other technical ways you can help out. If your other solutions work out, talk to your boss and see if you can do more of the technical stuff. Justify it by showing how much time your spreadsheet saves. If the boss says yes, great! You get to do fun stuff and keep your normal job. If the boss frowns, you might want to talk to someone higher up the food chain who will appreciate your productivity. If that person does not exist, you may want to look for an environment that better suits your talents.

At my company, one of the salesguys is very technical. He understands both sales and computers. We enlist his help for the databases and to improve workflow.

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Success....sort of.

by jeffreygentry In reply to Become the technical pers ...

I actually did as you suggested. Others in sales found it could be a helpfull tool when gaining new business, but the boss (and yes he is as high as I can go)preferered vague numbers and generalizations ("You could save 50%!") as apposed to concrete #'s on an individual customer by customer basis.

I hate to pry, but if your technical salesperson doesn't mind, please give him my e-mail address. I would like to ask him a few question about his role in the company and how he got there.

Thanks - jeffreygentry@hotmail.com

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Couple of ideas

by CuteElf In reply to Success....sort of.

Take a month off from work (paid if possible) and take a course in programming.

Go find a mentor somewhere (here?) about automation/ programming/statistics and think about bridging that and sales.

Sit down with someone highly paid from your state's labor department (the ones who help people find jobs). Sit down, explain your situation, and let them see if they can figure out a way to do it. *they get paid for it!*

Talk to your boss. Explain, You love job X. You are interested in combining Job X with Job Q. State you dont want to leave. You want to expand, not just do this. Can boss help? A good one will. A bad one would worry.

These are just ideas from a noob in the Arctic.

PS.
If you want to do something: you CHOOSE to do it, you CHOOSE your time.

Good Luck.

CuteElf

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Just wing it

by Tink! In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I'm just swinging through, no time to read the other's replies. Just wanted to say you sound alot like me...programming your calculator with games. :)

Being female there might be some differences in how we are approached with tasks, but I never pursued the IT field either. I sort of fell into it.

During high school I worked temp office jobs. After high school I worked as copy clerk, errand clerk, filing (legal pleadings) clerk, assistant bookkeeper and administrative assistant.

Within all these jobs I learned how to fix most office appliances, printers and computer problems as well as how to program macros and other small program batches on my own. This being due to my own curiousity and relentlessness. If there's a problem, I just have to know how to fix it. And my motto is "Where there's a will, there's a way" as in "There's always a way around it"

As an administrative assistant I was able to show off my self-learned skills and because of that was eventually placed as the office IT person. As the Admin. Asst./IT person I was able to learn more about IT and eventually "graduated" to be an IT department (like I am now).

So, it comes down to how aggressively do you want to pursue this type of career. If you are so-so about it (you love spreadsheets, functions and things like that, but perhaps no so into networking and hardware), perhaps you should stay in sales and learn IT things on your own. If you learn enough and are able to display your skills within your workplace you may eventually end up in IT.

If you really want to get into IT quickly you may want to consider certifications. The other TR people here will advise you on which ones. Perhaps even check to see if your workplace will offer paid or reimbursed training.

Either way, good luck and remember to have fun!

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You sound like a programmer!

by Bork Blatt In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

Based on your description of what you enjoyed about this experience (analysing the problem, coming up with different possible solutions, implementing the solution, seeing the new solution "born") I would say that you would enjoy programming / system analysis.

What you would probably like is not just being given a set of steps and told to code them, but analysing a problem and designing the solution, as well as implementing it.

This is probably what I enjoy most about my job. There are other aspects too, like meeting with clients, creating proposals and quotes, and the admin side, which I don't like as much, but the satisfaction of seeing the finished product in use by many companies is worth the "pain" - although being in sales, you may actually enjoy the interaction with people as much as the programming.

Steps I suggest - Investigate before you act. You can develop a full database program for a small company using only MS Access, included with MS Office professional. Ask some friends if they need a system for their small company, or to manage something. Try doing it in Access for them.

This is the quickest (and I think cheapest) way to discover if this is what you would actually enjoy by getting your feet wet. Many people study programming thinking they will enjoy it, but when they actually try it they are frustrated and find it is not what they thought it would be.

So in conclusion I would suggest experimenting before giving up your day job, and who knows, in your current company there might be more projects of this nature you could offer to do, and gradually "shift" into another role!

Hope you find a job that maximises use of your talents.

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