Working in IT
People who are trying to break into IT don't always know what they're getting into. This list paints a realistic picture of what may lie ahead.
Like most IT pros I know, I occasionally have friends or family ask me to get them a job in IT. For some reason, a lot of the people who ask me this have a perception that everyone who works in IT is a millionaire or a billionaire. Aside from having an incorrect perception about IT salaries, few people outside IT seem to understand just how tough working in IT really is.
You probably know all too well that there are both advantages and disadvantages to the job. My reason for writing this article is to give you something you can send to your friends the next time that they approach you with unrealistic expectations of working in IT.
1: The hours are long
There are all sorts of IT jobs, but most of them have one thing in common: They involve working long hours. If you want to work in IT, you better be prepared to work nights and weekends.
2: Your personal time will be interrupted
If you handle a critical support role within your organization, you will likely be tied to a cell phone. And that means you could be called upon to deal with an emergency at any given time. When I first started dating my wife, we were watching a movie at about two o'clock in the morning on a Friday night when I got called to deal with a system problem. Thankfully, she was a lot more understanding than some of the other women I had dated. I also once got a call in the middle of Christmas dinner. Working in IT can be almost like being a firefighter or a paramedic, in that you never know when an emergency will occur and you'll have to drop everything you're doing to deal with it.
3: You have to deal with a lot of angry people
One of the worst things about working in IT (especially for helpdesk roles) is that you encounter a lot of angry people. Almost everyone who calls you is upset because they have a problem and they expect you to fix it right now. Often, there is a great deal of hostility behind these calls. Those who are calling are under pressure to get a job done and the problem your system caused is preventing them from doing it.
4: Work tends to be deadline driven
Most IT jobs are deadline driven. For example, developers are under constant pressure to deliver code on time. Likewise, network administrators may be called upon to create user accounts or deploy and test new systems by a certain date. Oftentimes, the deadline is completely unreasonable for the amount of work that is involved in the task, but you are expected to meet the deadline anyway.
5: People expect you to fix their home computers
Another thing you are almost certain to run into is that your coworkers will expect you to fix problems with their personal electronics. Don't get me wrong -- I try to help as many people as I can. However, sometimes, you may simply be too busy to help somebody or they may not understand the implications of what they're asking. For example, I once had a user approach me about upgrading his Tandy 1000 (which was manufactured in 1988) so that it could run Windows XP. Oh yeah, and he wanted to keep the budget for the project under $200.
Date: 2015-02-03; view: 736