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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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Combine your skills and GO4IT!

by janta27 In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I think the power of any individual is in combining what skills he/she has with some internal desire and passion.
There's an awful lot of unprofessional Excel work going on at every company. Call it the hidden do-it-yourself IT dept.
So you might look for developing your Excel skills to reach a professional level and then, rather than go into IT, go to support Financial and other people struggling with lot's of badly integrated spreadsheets.
Start by looking at www.exceluser.com to better understand what I mean.

Lots of success!!

JanTr

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From IT to Sales

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

Wow. This is very interesting. I'm 29 going on 30 and have a family too, and I've been in IT for 10 years. Interestingly, I've gotten to a point (this last month) where I'm trying to move into technical sales. For the last several years, I've realized that the fullfilling projects that people think are everywhere in IT, just take forever to happen and by the time they do happen, the technology is practically ancient. More often than not IT projects just turn into paper drills, centered around policy and documentation. Unless you're very good and respected in your particular niche in IT, I could almost guarantee you'll make more in sales, and have the flexibility to sell in different industries. I think your best bet is to stay in sales, but keep supplementing your existing skill sets with more technical skills. Technical skills will have a lot of value in many fields, especially sales, as you've found out with your latest spreadsheet project. The more you can automate, the more you'll end up getting done, which will just make you better at your current job.

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Changing direction

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

Jeffrey,
I went through the same process at age 40, 20 years ago. I was in computer and peripheral sales and not very good at it. With the support of my wife and kids, I went through a government sponsored training scheme for 3 months to learn Cobol programming and Systems Analysis. Cobol I hated, SA was really interesting. I then got a job in PC Support with a national insurance company at about 1/3 of my previous salary and loved it. I progressed up the ladder to become a senior support engineer and 10 years ago launched out as an independent contractor supporting servers, PCs and systems generally. It was well worth it financially and I have now paid off my mortgage. You may be inclined to take that route, or possibly programming may be your bag. Don't be afraid to launch out into something new, but do get the support of your family. Things may be tight, but if it feels right, you will be rewarded.

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Using Excel

by g8hav In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

Hi
I moved from teaching Mathematics (which I enjoyed) to Research assistant at University developing and testing SAT math questions. when the data was collected I was using worksheets with 4 million active cells (all the columns were in use).
Applying umpteen functions to rows and columns to sort, correlate and display results is about as good as it gets with spreadsheets. I still am using spreadsheets (I am now retired) to process PAYE calculations for a company.
Go For It

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Young as you feel

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

I too am a jack of all trades. Started life on a farm and sawmill work. Was a mechanic for construction and special equipment, fire trucks. Now I'm in IT and have been for 32 years (before it was called IT) main frames, mini's, PC's. Don't tell my boss, but I would do this Job for half pay, well maybe three quarters. Every day it is something different. I'll be 64 in a couple of weeks and I'm still learning.

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Jeffrey don't dispare...

by WebJunkie1996 In reply to Wow, how did I end up her ...

I too was in your shoes. I had a rageing sales carreer and had medium experineces in the IT field. Then I decided at night I could persue my degree online. I am currently in my 3rd Quarter of ecollege and at the top of my class. I am not posting this for praise, but rather as an insight for you. I go here www.kaplan.edu . This university is huge with its main Campus in IA.

I've already taken Database Managment, where you learn to make macros that run spreadsheets and controls in a switchboard. Its just too cool.

IT is growing fast and according to the news and research in the area by 2019 society will be needing to hight an estimated 190,000 employees with IT backgrounds! Imagine you being in a top seat being able to program spreadsheets for a Major company! It's all do able, just search around a bit for what you need.

If you need money for school go here www.FSFSA.com Pell grants are worth $4,000-$6,000 depending on your school and what you take. Free money for school!

Good Luck!

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Business analyst?

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

my 2 cents = What you describe sounds like what many types of business analysts do...I have been in sales for over 12 years and really need the poeple who take the situations presented by the business and analyize them in various ways...this may satisfy your interest in how business gets things done and give you access to dissecting the business in many other ways...

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Geek Gene

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

Jeff,

Sounds like you have the geek gene...and that's not a bad thing! I wasn't able to read all the replies to your post, so I hope this isn't redundant, but I feel obligated to encourage you. I did read one about if you're good at sales you should just stay put...yadda, yadda, yadda. If it were all about money, I would agree, however, this seems to be about job satisfaction. You sound very much like me when you were a young man. You like to know how things work and you like to make things work. You want to work with your brain, but you want to create something, as well, in your own way with your own unique talents. I could be wrong, but the way you described being caught up with developing the spreadsheet and the other things you mentioned, I feel certain you have what it takes: curiosoity, motivation, self-actualization, logic, intelligence, love of things technical, etc.

So, here's my advice: pursue your dream. Start with maybe building yourself a new PC and setting up a home network. It's a steep learning curve to get where you need to be to make comparable bucks. You need some hands-on experience with both software and hardware. Develop a family website. Learn how to do some coding in HTML (actually very easy,) some scripting, some media stuff. Have fun and keep it fun. Read, read, read. Anything that catches your interest in the IT field. Experiment and play. Satisfy your inate talent using this strategy for a year or two, continuing to make the big sales bucks. If you keep this up and it continues to hold your interest, you'll know after a year or two what your path should be. Are you a hardware guy, an integrator, a software developer, a troubleshooter, an analyst who looks at business processes or some other specialist? In this business you usually have to specialize and be above average at what you do to have a lucrative career.

Once you know what you want to do, you really need to get some education. Just some certs and training for what you're going to specialize in. I know this sounds like a long haul, but if you really want it and love it, you can make a career change in a couple of years. If not you'll make yourself more valuable with your PC skills and understanding. You'll probably also have a bitchen' network at home that the whole family can use! (^:

Lastly, I'm going to suggest a couple of areas that make sense given your background. Web development makes absolute sense given you're marketing background. A position where you are the laison between IT and Management would flex your sales ability, too. It's going to depend on what you're good at and whether that "geek gene" is dominant or recessive. Keep in mind the more technical the job, the steeper and longer the learning curve. Maybe you stay in the Sales Department, but you're their technical Wiz Kid and you continue to develop spreadsheets, marketing analysis tools, reports and get people using cool little devices like laptops, PDA's, network-enabled cell phones, whatever.

Always follow your dreams and your heart. Life is too short to spend most of it in a job that doesn't make you happy.

Good Luck!

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Go for IT! I'm happy that I did.

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

Your situation sounds nearly exactly like mine... I'm currently 29, I used to sell copiers, and now I work as a programmer for the same company that I used to sell copiers for.

My opinion is that there is plenty of room in any field for those who are passionate about what they do. I got into IT with very little experience or education, but I had talent for it and obvious interest. I have been working hard & I got a couple certifications and I'm making the kind of money that I want to. Best of all, I'm exited to go into work in the morning & I'd work all night if I didn't have a family.

I worked as a bartender before I got in the copier business, and I had an experience that I will never forget. I was talking with one of my customers and we got to discussing his carreer. To make a long story short, he didn't like his job. He never did like it. He has been doing it for over 30 years!!! He said that he never even looked for anything else out of fear. I decided at that point that I would never get stuck in a carreer that I don't like.

If you love what you do, you can be great at it. I view finding great people as the greatest challenge for any company (ESPECIALLY TECH COMPANIES) and any great company is willing to pay dearly for dedicated, capable employees. You might find that the tech industry is not for you, but I don't think that will be the case. If you don't like what you do now, and you don't at least look at what else is out there, then I hope you can at least be the fool at the bar who inspires someone else to make something of their life.

What would I do if I was starting over? The exact same thing... I got both MCSD and MCDBA certifications and I busted my butt for two years before getting much results. Programming in .NET is very hot right now and it's pretty easy to get started with. Look up your local INETA .NET developers group and join it (it's free). It's a great opportunity to network and learn more about the field.

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Do yourself a favor. Get into IT

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

I was in a similar situation, I worked in sales and was extremely unhappy. I wasn't interested in my job until I got a chance to do some IT-related work around the office. I wasn't interested in our sales seminars, I wanted to tweak the spreadsheet template for our weekly sales reports! Eventually, I too shared this nagging feeling that I was wasting my potential.

Eventually I came to my senses and left my job and went back to school. I won't kid you, it was difficult and the sacrifices were enormous. But man, was it worth it. It was the hardest decision I ever made in my life and also the one I'm most proud of.

I got my Masters, worked professionally for a number of years and made a very good living. This gave me the financial strength to further tweak my dream and zero in on computer graphics. I've now nearly completed my doctorate in computer graphics and am interviewing for faculty positions at major universities.

I can't imagine being more satisfied with my career. I enjoy the rare privilege of being as interested in my work as in my play - as they are one and the same.

I owe my good fortune to my taking stock in myself years ago and making a very hard decision and sticking to it. Do yourself a favor, plot a new course closer to your heart. You won't regret it.

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