The most qualified, compassionate nurses are always women. Every teacher gets into the profession to enjoy their summers off. All lawyers are ambulance-chasing charlatans. Every profession, from waste management and public service to library sciences and law enforcement is plagued by its own set of outlandish but long-held stereotypes. This fact holds very true for the men and women who work in the field of information technology.
You Think You Know I.T. (But You Have No Idea)
Here is a short list of sweeping generalizations IT professionals face every day and the revealing truth behind the vocation:
IT Specialists Don’t Have a Head for Business
Many believe an IT specialist’s typical day is spent bent over a computer screen, with no other inkling about where their employer is headed or any of the other financial or logistical aspects of the company or firm. In actuality, many IT technicians wear two hats and are actively participating in the business end of the field. This necessity was born from the realization by many working in information technology that their destiny doesn’t only lie in writing code or engineering. If they want to branch out and start their own firm, IT professionals must learn where the money is coming from and where it’s going.
Everyone Working in IT is a Socially Inept “Nerd” or “Techie”
You might have a particular image in mind of a “typical” IT professional. This person is more than likely a single, unattractive man who spends his days in a poorly lit backroom wearing a t-shirt brandishing a video game character. His nights and weekends are filled with hours spewing technical jargon to his other IT friends while they watch a marathon of “Doctor Who” or play another round of “Dungeons and Dragon” in his mother’s basement. In reality, the majority of IT specialists are in fact male… but also have rewarding and fulfilling lives outside of work and the ability to converse with non-technical laymen about more than computer code and “World of Warcraft.”
Women and Minorities Don’t Pursue Careers in Information Technologies
Once again, this stereotype is for the most part untrue, but white men do still dominate this field. Fortunately, more minorities and women are finding a rewarding career in this seemingly gender and race-biased arena. The only way to completely eliminate this myth is for more women and minorities to act as role models for future generations and rock the world of IT.
Working in IT Guarantees $$$
The popular thinking on many college campuses is to seek a career in a.) computers or b.) medicine if you want to earn the big bucks in your first job after college. Many of these same uninformed individuals are in for a rude awakening, because as with the majority of vocations, having an information technology degree doesn’t always guarantee you’ll earn an enviable salary immediately. You’ll start at the bottom rung with a modest salary and work your way up the proverbial corporate ladder, until your wages are more competitive, just like everyone else has to.
Only Math and Science Geniuses Need Apply
Although the majority of IT professions necessitate a rudimentary knowledge of math, there are many other attributes required to be successful in the field. Teamwork, leadership, creativity, artistic abilities and a wide variety of other skills are all valuable attributes of a well-rounded professional, including those that work in information technology. Remember that programming isn’t the only job in IT out there; there are many other facets of the field that don’t require employees possess an in-depth knowledge of obscure mathematical theories.
Every Day is Casual Friday
Several films, television series and even stories in the media have portrayed the offices of information technology professionals as wonderlands filled with Hawaiian shirt-clad, laidback individuals without a care in the world or a pressing deadline to meet. In reality, IT specialists must answer to their superior if their work was sloppy or late and remain on call and subject to the needs of company’s other major departments, including accounting, shipping or human resources. If you’re entering the world of information technology because you’re under the impression every day is casual Friday, think again.
Before you seek an information technology career, learn the ins and outs of the field by interning at a local company or speak to a seasoned professional with years of experience under his belt. You might be surprised to learn the job’s true nature, and the stresses and triumphs IT professionals experience on a daily basis.
This article was written by Justin Davis who is pursuing an MBA degree online and taking all the necessary CFA exam prep classes he can to prepare himself. He expects to have his degree by next year.