A career in IT can be frustrating for many reasons. Specifically for fresh graduates and people without prior experience (or with limited experience), one of the major causes of frustration in an IT role is the problem of translating a business request into a deliverable task.
While the discipline of IT is all-embracing – meaning anyone from any field of discipline could train to be an IT professional, there are specific personal and lifestyle attributes that are required for you to succeed and avoid frustration while adapting to your new role as an IT professional.
Here are five qualities that you need to succeed the IT profession:
1. Willingness to learn and try new stuff:
In 12 years of my career as a Technology and Business Management professional, my openness to learning and embrace of new ideas has helped me overcome the daily challenges of the profession. For any IT role, there is always some basics you must learn in order to succeed. Whenever you are employed in a new IT role, you are much likely to succeed if you spend the first few months learning the business structure, the tools available for your role, the contacts available to you in your role, the vision of the company as it pertains to your role, and the technical skills you already possess or need to acquire in order to succeed in your role.
2. Listen, read and discuss:
Don’t be surprised if, on the first day of job in your new role, you turn on your computer and wonder what in the world you got yourself into. Don’t be surprised if, in the first week, you have been in several meetings with your team and manager, but find it difficult to connect the discussions to your new role. Here’s my advice, take notes and make a list of anything that sounds new to you. Ask questions about your list, take more notes even if you cannot make sense of the notes. Then go online and research the terminologies you have picked up. Search online for free short courses that could test your knowledge of the new ideas you are gaining. One of the progress you will notice is that you become bolder in those meetings and you can at least ask questions that create interesting discussions among your new professional family.
3. Analyzing components: I know you feel like you must start meeting goals and completing projects right away. But always invest quality time in breaking your tasks into components or milestones and delivering requirements in milestones. Does this sound like agile methodology to you? That is because it is (in a basic way). If you are not able to break down a task into components, you run the risk of overpromising but under-delivering or failing to deliver altogether. Some people can hit the ground flying, but some folks just need time to understand the pieces that make up the task being required of them. When you deliver your tasks in components (or at least share meaningful updates), you are able to gain good ratings with your team and you avoid running out of breath on the job.
Do not worry if a mentor decides to take or share credits. You are simply paying your dues, plus your mentor may also need to justify the use of her time to your overall boss.
4. Align with a mentor (or mentors): It might help to find a person on your team who is much experienced and has been in the business for a while. Such people may be able to review your projects or offer help and allow you to take all the credits or share in the credits. Do not worry if a mentor decides to take or share credits. You are simply paying your dues, plus your mentor may also need to justify the use of her time to your overall boss. However, you should not become a pesky team member by going back all the time for help to get your job done. You must try to limit your mentors help to review your projects or at least sharing any past work that you could use in your task. Without a mentor or support system, you will likely get burned out pretty fast and become frustrated on the job.
5. Negotiating: You could be on a team that tries to pile all the “dirty” work on the new guy, or you might be on a team that avoids allocating any task to the new guy. These are a possible scenario to expect in your new role as an IT professional. And either of those roles described above is not in your favor. Being piled on with all the “dirty” jobs could be overwhelming and could prevent you from shining on your team. Meanwhile, not being allowed to do any meaningful task could soon make management think you are a waste of investment. So you must learn to negotiate. If you gain a sense that you are being shielded from the real action, discuss with your team members and let them know you would like to own your own projects (if you feel confident doing so). If there are no opportunities coming your way, study the current process and try identifying opportunities that you could take on as projects. In my first years as a Business Analyst, I did a lot of process optimization by doing simple automation projects, which helped the team and made my boss looked well. It wasn’t long that I started being invited to meetings and being asked to take on projects for top management.
No matter what your situation is currently, I should let you know that the IT profession is profitable and respectable. A career in IT can be very exciting and highly rewarding. If you find yourself being frustrated, take some of the advice I have offered or share with someone who new to the profession and is experiencing frustration. I think the wisdom in here could go a long way helping you. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.