After spending a considerable amount of time on forums like the Cisco Learning Network, it is apparent that there are many challenges for those entering the field of technology. Freshers, as they are known in the industry, have many challenges. Some of these challenges stem from the gap between the education process and the real world work they will be expected to do. This often leads to job seekers asking the challenging question of how to get a job without experience and how to get experience without a job. While that is a formidable challenge, I believe there is another important question that often goes unasked.
The question I think every technology fresher should ask themselves is this, “Is technology a good career choice for me?” Technology, while it can be a rewarding and intriguing field, is not for everyone. I personally get frustrated by those who think they can just jump into a career in networking or systems administration and make a bunch of money. Those getting into this type of career for money are doing it for the wrong reasons. Technology, like any type of work, needs to be matched the traits of the individual. Work should have the right amount and the right type of stimuli in order to be enjoyable (or at least tolerable).
Ideally an individual would assess themselves prior to getting their first job. However, it is never too late to change directions. The question I posed was, “Is technology a good career choice for me?” The easiest way to answer this question may be to ask some additional questions that help describe technical work to the individual.
Below are some thoughts that may help individuals decide if technology is a good career choice
- Would you prefer to make something work or understand how you made it work? Good technicians need to continually ask WHY and gain enjoyment from understanding details that may seem menial to those around them.
- Do you enjoy reading non-fiction or technical documents? This field of study is continually changing and requires individuals to educate themselves continually.
- Are you afraid to tackle the unknown? Those in the technical arena are very rarely trained on everything they do. A typical day for many requires a lot of research, trial and understanding, and deductive reasoning.
- What are some of the technical problem solving experiences you had in the past? How did it make you feel?
I actually had this conversation with someone from Cisco just prior to delivering a webinar on careers. I think their initial reaction was concern for those that aren’t ideal candidates for technology. Internally, I’m thinking that they should just find another field of work. It is really a GOOD thing when you determine a road is not one that you should take. There are some technical career choices that are less technical. A sales role is an example of an area that may be a little out of alignment with the statements I made above.
My hope is that readers find a career that works well for them personally. I find it frustrating when I hear of technical schools advertising certifications that will produce sure result in a certain income. Recently, I’ve been reading a book called “The Lean Startup“. The presiding principal in this book is to fail quickly and learn from it. Like the agile business processes in the book, technical candidates need to quickly determine if their career choice is not the right one. For those who quickly determine the choice is not for them, they can more quickly move in a suitable direction. Those having traits that align with the points above will likely enjoy this challenging and rewarding industry.
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