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Are You Right for a Job in Tech?

Are You Right for a Job in Tech?

R. Marc Phillips

June 09, 2009

High salaries, new technology, and (at least relatively) strong job demand make the tech industry an attractive place to be. But how can you tell if a tech career is right for you? To get a better idea if you’ll enjoy a career in tech, answer these five questions:

Do you geek out on things?
Let’s start off with the most important question. If you’re not the kind of person who starts working on a project (whether personal or work), starts to really get into it, and eventually realizes it’s 3am and you haven’t moved in four hours, a tech career might not be for you.

I’m not saying that you’ll be doing this all the time or even frequently, but if you’ve never experienced that all-consuming drive to figure something out or to see how the solution works, you might have a problem. Tech workers — especially coders — often work long, odd hours, and you’ll be much happier doing that if you can get absorbed in your work.

Could you recite the specs of your current machines off the top of your head?
We all end up there in different ways, but everyone who’s happy in IT is there, in part, because they love technology. That doesn’t mean you have to be a gamer or that you need to have built your last three PCs, but it’s important that you care enough about computers to know what you’re using.

It helps on the job, too. If you’re trying to diagnose why someone’s machine is “slow,” it helps to have a few points of comparison. Knowing knowing as much as possible about your hardware makes that much easier.

Do you enjoy problem solving?
Whether it’s word problems from high school, or those Microsoft-interview-style riddles, successful techies tend to love problem solving. That’s critically important in an industry where the hardware and software you’re using to do your job can change monthly or even daily. The fast-moving nature of IT means that often the problem you’re working on hasn’t been solved yet.

Are you the person our friends come to with tech problems?
More to the point, are you the person who solves all your friends’ tech problems? Tech careers aren’t just about making computers and software work, they’re about making computers and software work for people. And that, despite the stereotype that software and IT departments are their own islands, means working with people to understand what they want from their technology.

Clueless as your coworkers may be, if you can’t put yourself in their shoes (or at least tolerate their presence long enough to understand their problem), you’re going to have trouble getting your job done.

Can you get your work done even if it’s not engaging?
Coding, building systems, and setting up security can be fun, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be working on super interesting projects. Every project contains at least some busy work, and many of them include entire sections you’d rather avoid altogether. Whether you use a method like Getting Things Done, or you rely on simple professionalism, you’ll need to find a way to power through the work you couldn’t care less about.

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