Have you tried turning it off and on again? The perks and realities of working in IT

The perks and realities of working in IT

If you work in IT, your job title is probably something along the lines of professional developer, programmer or engineer, but to the technologically illiterate, you’re a technopath capable of solving problems by mind melding with machines. Working in IT comes with all the glamour technical knowledge affords, but also with a few obvious drawbacks. Read on for a glimpse into the real perks and find out how to deal with the not-so-satisfying side of the industry.  

Perk: Exercising your brain

Getting down to brass tacks, a job in IT is a job as a problem-solver. It requires an analytical mind and a persistent work-ethic. You are constantly being challenged to find better, faster and more secure ways to do your work. This means that keeping-up-to-date with the latest technologies and a perpetual state of learning is part of the job description.

Reality: Making yourself obsolete by fighting obsolescence  

Even though new technology can make our jobs easier (and more exciting), sometimes it can be a little too good and run the risk of making us obsolete. New technologies are the great enablers of change and failing to be aware of the risks they bring could mean being left behind in an ever-evolving industry.  The increasing speed at which emerging technologies are arising can quickly render your knowledge outdated and irrelevant. It is an opportunity for the dedicated to remain at the forefront of innovation while simultaneously hoping they are not replaced by it.

What you can do about it

Create a technology awareness strategy by first determining which aspects of the technological space you need to be across. Assess the resources available to you, prioritise them in terms of usefulness and then allocate time to use them. Already being in the IT industry provides you with a wealth of information which can be bolstered with books, magazines, seminars or a good, old-fashioned Google search.   

Perk: The money is nice

The ubiquity of tech means that your are in high demand, and with high demand comes the high salary. Companies are realising that offering more extensive remuneration packages is increasingly necessary to attract and retain your expertise. IT is not an industry where you will easily feel undervalued.

Reality: Pressure of deadlines

With higher salaries comes a greater pressure to perform, sometimes to strict and unreasonable deadlines. Designing, developing, testing and deploying new tech solutions is a team effort and you will constantly be under the gun to deliver your part so that those responsible for the next phase can deliver theirs. It can also be extremely difficult to determine ETAs with the level of accuracy so coveted by management. IT can leave you working nights and weekends in hopes of locating a single error in the code that’s somehow preventing the entire system from functioning.

What you can do about it

Help foster a relationship with other departments and management by promoting transparency and open communication and do your part to break down departmental silos. Being upfront and honest about seemingly arbitrary time boundaries will result in more realistic ETAs and less pressure, without the need for gross over-estimations.

Perk: A unique kind of job satisfaction

The feeling of insurmountable pressure in an IT role is countered by the satisfaction felt after locating and decimating the bug that has kept you up all night, seeing your solution work as you had envisioned. Not only is it personally satisfying, but you are simultaneously demonstrating your value to the company. Your presence is paramount to the successful functioning of all things tech. People will look to you to solve all their technology problems.

Reality: People will look to you to solve all their technology problems

The knowledge that makes you so valuable is the same knowledge that will leave you bombarded with help requests. People will look to you to solve even the most minor of tech-related issues from forgotten passwords to printing to replacing the batteries in their wireless mouse. It doesn’t help that they don’t understand what you’re explaining, but most aren’t even trying. There is real a communication gap between IT and everyone else. Not everyone will take the time to try and understand. But everyone will expect you to fix it.

What you can do about it

First and foremost, accept the fact that being in IT makes you the go-to person for everyone else’s technical woes. To help alleviate some of the workload, take each request, however small, as a teaching opportunity. Educate the other members of your organisation in hopes that they will pass the knowledge onto others or at the very least, not return to you with the same problem. Focus on keeping the jargon to a minimum lest your teaching efforts become an exercise in futility. If you think that your people skills could do with some work the good news is that there are many books, online classes and courses that can help you improve your communication methods.

The reality of IT

For all its pressures, tedious engagements and communication barriers, IT is ultimately an industry in which the reward is the work itself. Using the latest technologies puts you at the cusp of innovation. Solving problems through your own creative ingenuity makes your work meaningful. It is an industry that continues to evolve, seldom seeing a boring day, forever in high demand and with great financial compensation to boot.

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