When I first started working in IT, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting myself into. One thing that really surprised me, however, was how many people lie to you on a daily basis. I found out quickly that end users constantly lie about the nature of the problems they are having. After all, nobody wants to get in trouble, so end users try to cover up self-inflicted problems.
You can also expect to be lied to by vendors' technical support departments. I have lost count of the number of support technicians over the years who have told me that a problem is not related to their software, but rather to the computer's hardware or to the operating system. And of course I won't even begin to talk about the number of vendors who have lied to me in an effort to make a sale.
7: You have to keep your education current
The IT industry is constantly evolving. IT pros have to learn a tremendous amount of information so they can do their jobs, and that information becomes outdated quickly. The only way to keep your knowledge relevant is to make sure that you keep your education current.
This can be surprisingly difficult to do. Never mind all the complicated technical material you have to learn. The things that most often stand in the way of keeping your education current are the long hours you are already working and the ever-shrinking IT training budgets.
8: Things don't always work the way they're supposed to
Earlier, I mentioned that projects can be deadline driven and that the deadlines tend to be unreasonable. Believe me when I say that there is nothing worse than trying to complete a project by the deadline you have been given only to have things come to a grinding halt as a result of technical problems.
Computer systems are complicated, and sometimes in spite of your best efforts things just do not work the way they're supposed to. Something as simple as an inconsistent chip version on a series of system boards can derail an entire project. Naturally, it's up to you to find the problem and fix it.
9: You may have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy
In the 20 years or so I have worked in IT, there has always been a certain amount of office politics and corporate bureaucracy to deal with. Of course, that is the case with most jobs. However, in the last several years, the bureaucracy has been taken to a whole new level. Corporate scandals such as the Enron incident have led to IT professionals being forced to comply with numerous federal regulations. These regulations almost always make IT projects more difficult, time consuming, and expensive.
10: Your job is to make yourself obsolete
When I first started working as a network administrator, a longtime friend told me something I will never forget. He said that my job was to make myself obsolete. I didn't really understand what he meant at the time, but he was absolutely right. An IT pro's job is to make everything work perfectly. However, if everything did work perfectly, IT pros would not be needed.
Over the years, I have had plenty of people tell me that as long as you work in IT, you never have to worry about being out of work. However, some of the latest generation of management products make it practical for small numbers of people to manage huge numbers of systems. Likewise, a lot of IT positions are going away as systems are being outsourced to the cloud. Even though the IT industry itself probably isn't going away anytime soon, having IT knowledge is by no means a guarantee of employment.