When you think of today’s most successful companies, you probably think of Apple, Google and Facebook—tech giants. While these are some of world’s most lucrative and successful brands, they are not alone in reaping the riches of today’s information technology industry. As technological advancements continue to be made, the industry as a whole continues to grow and offer a plethora of IT career opportunities for interested and dedicated individuals. According to a December 2013 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software publishers and computer systems design and related services are among the industries with the fastest-growing employment.1
Below, a few leaders in various kinds of information technology jobs offer their insights on the evolution of the industry as well as their advice to those considering IT careers:
Become a Good Communicator
“While technical support has become a commodity over the years, the partnership between small businesses and their trusted IT service providers has remained invaluable. If you're just starting out in IT services, my recommendation is to not only focus on your technical studies, but to increase your personal communication skills.
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“We see a lot of applicants that look great on paper, but when we meet with them they're unable to relay technical information to nontechnical people in an empathetic and understandable way. IT is as much about client services as it is about technical knowledge, and those that communicate effectively move forward with greater ease.”
- Eric Schlissel, CEO at GeekTek IT Services in Los Angeles
Learn Your Craft
“One of the largest changes over the past several years is the ability for clients to have access to their information, run programs and work from anywhere at any time. This requires IT professionals to be able to do the same in order to quickly assess and resolve issues. We must be mobile and have the tools and availability to work with our clients wherever they may be when they are experiencing an issue. In addition, with every change in the industry comes new security risks and challenges for protecting our clients’ data.
“My advice for someone that is interested in pursuing an information technology career is to learn the basics of how everything works and put it to practice. Students need to decide if they want to be a jack of all trades or focus on an individual subject in the field. You can either learn everything there is about a certain field or learn a little bit about everything.”
- Ryan Zegers, partner at Sierra Technology & Consulting in Reno, Nev.
Practice Your People Skills
“In some ways the industry and roles have stayed the same – there are still programmers, just with different languages than 20 years ago. However, technology has changed dramatically and continues to change. More things are automated today, code is reusable and there are tools that make everything technical easier.
“One of the biggest changes I have seen is that there is no such thing as a ’back-room’ position in IT anymore. No matter what your position, you are expected to be able to interact and communicate reasonably effectively with the business. There are also less formal ways to break into technology as a career or get your next role than there maybe were several years ago.”
-Tracy Cashman, senior vice president / partner at WinterWyman in Boston
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Make Your Own Experience
“IT touches every business unit and sets technology foundations that are as vital as a building’s foundation. Growing businesses must take a long-term view when evaluating IT investments.
“If one is interested in pursuing a job in IT, I recommend narrowing your focus to a specific area, such as infrastructure, systems, security or networks, when pursuing formal study. Nothing beats learning in your own playground, so set up your own IT infrastructure at home. If you enjoy solving puzzles and problems, you will probably enjoy working in IT.”
- Sue Spanovich, manager of Information Technology at Code42 in Minneapolis
1 U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Projections: Industries with the fastest growing and most rapidly declining wage and salary employment. [online] Available at: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_203.htm [Accessed 7 Feb. 2014].