After more than 30 years as an IT specialist, I believe it is interesting that while a lot has changed, some things remain the same. Here is some tips I’d love to offer to people starting out in their professions.
A couple years ago, I experienced an outstanding landmark in my entire life. My son graduated from college and started his first job as an information technology professional — the very same route which I started almost 30 years back. Things have certainly changed over the years (computers are becoming a LOT smaller, for one thing) — and this past year alone was filled with tension and uncertainty. However, as I reflect on this past year and the milestone my son and family experienced a few years before, I am reminded that there are a number of lessons learned in IT which will always be true, whether or not you are working on landline phones or the latest microchips. Here are some I can share from my experience.
Focus in Your Passion
One of the things which I wish I had known earlier in my career is that discovering your passion is the most crucial part of the job. Don’t misunderstand me — finding your passion doesn’t imply you’ll be doing exactly what you love daily. It is about finding a business, business, or role that you think can make a difference.
Working in IT is challenging. You will have hard deadlines to meet, customers to impress, customers to assist — and working weekends, nights and holidays are all an inevitability in most jobs. However, the thing that can push you through it and make it worthwhile is if you are enthusiastic about the work that you do. How can you tell if you’re passionate about a company or an industry?
- You get excited thinking about what the company or business does. This is so important. If you are not enthusiastic about the possible impact of your job, you are not passionate about the industry. This passion will help to push you through the monotonous components of your job.
- You’re helping your customers: So many IT businesses are currently inventing issues to resolve with their goods instead of focusing on the issues consumers face. Look for work which sees you consciously helping customers — this will give you a sense of achievement at the end of the day.
According to study from BioSpace, workers who are enthusiastic about what they do will be happier and more effective.
Don’t Chase Money
As your career progresses and you get calls for more senior positions and opportunities, you’ll have to be clear about your values. Life isn’t just about earning a few extra million bucks. If you’re doing your best and making a difference, the money will come to you — there’s no need to pursue it.
Ethics are Everything
Passion without integrity is harmful. Maintaining your values at the forefront of your career (and your life) is essential to success, and not just your success. Obviously, it is required to maintain your values in the center when you are progressing your career, but these values become even more crucial when you become a manager.
When you become a manager, you need to think about not only your career but also the livelihood of somebody else. It will be your responsibility to make sure that the people you manage learn, grow, prosper, and probably move on. It’s vital to get this done with honor and respect. We’re all people. The occupation title isn’t about just everything you do, it is about who you are.
At the commencement of your career, think to yourself what type of man would you wish to be? Do you need to be called somebody successful who gets things done? As someone who always does the right thing, no matter what? As you go into managerial roles, private branding is vital, and I find that a number of the top managers are the ones who have taken the opportunity to think about who they are interested in being at the workplace.
Always Keep Learning
You’re never going to know everything, and if you take this in the start of your career, you’ll go far. IT is constantly changing. You are going to have to work to stay on top of the latest technology development trends and inventions. What do I mean when I say stay on top of trends?
- Attend training regularly: Regular training is a crucial part of the job. Just take every learning opportunity your companies provide you, and do not be afraid to do your research and take this part of your career into your own hands. Research courses if you believe you have a skills gap and return to your supervisors with an actionable plan about how the class will help. The worst they could say is no hearing and — that answer will probably answer any queries you have about the way that company values its employees’ training.
- Read all the industry information you are able to get your hands on: So much information is different out there that you learn from — you have to sit down and find the opportunity to go through it all. Read business magazines, online IT publications, etc., and look at the latest trends and learn about the Most Recent data.
- Listen to the people around you: This is something I wish I knew much earlier in my career. The people around you are a goldmine for learning new abilities, but only if you take some opportunity to listen to them. Speak with your managers where appropriate and ask these questions. Talk to your coworkers, too — they might have insights you don’t. When you become a manager, it’s essential to follow your junior staff members, also. Their fresh perspectives and thoughts are all worth their weight in gold. It should always be your objective to listen more than you speak.
See Failure as A Growth Opportunity
You are going to make mistakes, and making those mistakes is okay. Nobody is good at something the first time. The errors you make do not define who you are, but it’s the reactions to those mistakes that can predict the success you’ll see on your career. A recent article from Forbes beautifully outlines why you should see failure as a chance:
- It helps you determine what works: Every time you fail, you find invaluable advice — whatever it’s you tried doesn’t work. Whenever you fail, you become better at your job, and you understand a bit more than you did earlier.
- You find out that your friends are: You find out which coworkers have your back. The people who stick with you once you fail are the men and women that are really in your corner. Pay attention to who’s still about when things aren’t going well.
- You become a better supervisor: Failure reminds you of your own humanity. When you become a mentor, it can help you get ahead of any future errors with your own employees.
Never forget that failure is a massive opportunity to show up and try again.
The takeaways? First, listen. Secondly, do not be afraid to take risks. And, most importantly, find something that makes you want to go to work in the morning. Everything else will fall into place.
Jeff Fields is CIO and VP for SERVPRO, a job he has held since 2012, where he oversees and mentors the technology team, directs SERVPRO’s technology development projects, and provides technical supervision of their company’s products and services. His previous CIO missions have been in National Council Compensation Insurance, SafeAuto Insurance Company and also Magazines.com. Jeff earned his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. He also completed Executive education at Stanford University, with a concentration on e-commerce.
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