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10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started In IT | Featuring USF Team Members


USF IT

Photo courtesy of Greg Moore.

Jobs in information technology (IT) are seriously in demand these days. Since technology is evolving every. single. day, we need more professionals equipped to handle that evolution. But what is it really like working in IT? In this article, team members from the USF IT department give us some insight into what they wish they’d known before they got into IT.

1. Versatility Is Key

“I think a lot of people enter IT with a specific career path in mind. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, it has the side effect of cutting yourself off from opportunities that might come up in other areas. I have had an unusual path. I did field support, phone support, Windows administration, Unix/Linux administration, a little bit of security, and an even littler bit of networking. I’ve done personnel management, database management, relationship management and project management. To borrow from Johnny Cash, ‘I’ve been everywhere, man.’  All of those things taken together help me do my job now. Point is, if you have an opportunity to learn something that might be a bit outside your personal plan for world domination, do it.” ~ David Hearne, Archivum Platform Architect 

2. Adapt, Adapt, Adapt!

Working in IT means that your ability to adapt to new technology will be much more valuable than your initial qualifications or degree. Speaking from a graphic design perspective, I know that some of my family and friends from previous generations who have degrees in illustration and graphic design did not have the opportunity to learn how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign because the Adobe Creative Suite simply didn’t exist yet. In today’s environment, knowing how to create digital artwork in those specific applications is a necessity for most positions. Additionally, knowing how to troubleshoot with a mastery of ‘Google-fu’ (being able to skilfully search for information on the web) and teaching yourself is invaluable no matter your role.” ~ Cayla M.

Two brilliant minds tackling a project

What do IT Team members wish they’d known before starting in information technology?

3. Did We Mention Google?

“As an IT employee, you have one specific job (or several) in a whole complex matrix of IT services. To the outside world, however, particularly family, IT is one thing, and they expect you to know how to build a computer, program in Linux AND Windows, build a website, host it, and apply security to it as well. IT is a singular job, so knowing how to Google is a skill one must master … if you don’t want your family to think that you’re a terrible IT person, that is.” ~ Greg D.

4. Know Your Stuff

“If you have a perfect skill set as a web developer, but lack a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) concept, it is the same as you don’t know where you are going. SDLC is the basic concept as any type of computer developer/programmer including software/application/web/system. However, unlike other major software development, you don’t need to follow Waterfall model, which can be fixed only during the phase, in web development.” ~ Jihyun Kim, Senior Application Developer, Technical Lead

5. Learn To Solve Your Own Problems

“I’ve learned in my time in IT that being a problem solver expands beyond just your work. Everyone thinks that working in IT means you have the best tech service. Not so much. You also need to troubleshoot your own technology issues.” ~ Christina Freeman, Instructional Designer

6. It’s Always About The User

IT has more to do with user experience than people think. It’s not an elitist club for ‘techie’ individuals but rather an industry that strives to understand how users interact with a particular platform or application in order to develop ways for people to accomplish things efficiently and with accuracy.” ~ Shani Fails, Web Development Product Owner

7. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

“The first project I was product owner for was a web application. We had a small dev team of one junior developer and one senior developer. All the while the junior developer and I are learning on the job about how to develop an application from Adam to the end of Eden. We also had a large panel of customers whose input was absolutely essential. Any one of those parts could have developed an application that ‘did’ what our stakeholders had roughly outlined they wanted. If the junior had built it it likely would have been a simpler app with fewer features, if the junior had only the senior’s input it may have had even more bells and whistles attached, if the senior had been lead the whole time it may have been the most beautiful app ever. We could have built exactly to spec and had Minnie Mouse avatars. We took all of those things, the good ideas, the bad ones, the years of experience from experts about app dev and epidemiology, cardio pulmonology, and pediatrics. We came together as a team, over several months, and developed something none of us could see when we started and it worked! Customers were happy! That teamwork isn’t what I expected when I came into IT, I always expected that things just kind of came out of a focus group at Google or something like that.” ~ Matthew Warner, Product Owner in Digital Innovations

8. Everyone Can Succeed

“I wish I would have known that degrees and certificates are preferred but not required in IT. Essentially, a hobbyist can make good money without any of that. Places like USF, too, sometimes hire students for part time positions in IT, and the students can work their way up in the field.” ~ Juan Almonte, IT Support Specialist

IT Customer Interaction

IT can be hard work and exciting.

9. The Customer is Always Right… Right?

When dealing with a customer, never assume they are ignorant because there’s often important clues in what they say. It can feel that way because they often come to us from different areas with their own culture and language that clashes with our own. The thing to keep in mind is these customers are the subject matter experts of their area. Instead of blowing them off, steer the conversation away from what they’re doing wrong or what they don’t understand. Instead, let them know you’re happy to help and together you can make it happen.” ~ Greg Moore, Senior Web Developer

10. The Only Thing That Stays The Same Is The Thrill

“There is no final answer. Sometimes you think you’ve found the best technical solution, but there’s always something better, something more efficient. But that’s just what makes IT so exciting.” ~ Jasmine Dorsey, Applications Developer

 

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