How to find success in IT

I’ve had my nose to ground and head in the books trying to finish out my BS in Computer Science. I’m finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel but it’s had me thinking, will this make me successful? I’ve been reflecting on my own journey and while everyone is different, I wanted to define success. More specifically, I believe there are three areas that I’ve used to find success in IT.

Education

Education is sort of a hot topic in the IT industry. I have witnessed heated debates whether a 4-year Computer Science degree is required or not. As someone who is self-taught and made it pretty far without a college degree, I would say it depends. On one hand, a formal education, such as a 4-year Computer Science degree, doesn’t necessarily give you the pratical or real world experience to immediately go out and be successful. Experience is gathered over time and rather than learn by doing, you are stuck writing papers on Anthropology to finish your college electives. That doesn’t help you when you are troubleshooting a bug in production. While I’ve been fortunate enough to gather experience, I’ve also felt somewhat embarrassed when I wasn’t “qualified” for a job opportunity or I could be placed on a bid for a project all because I didn’t have my degree. Nevertheless, there is still value in gaining a degree but it’s not everything. I have aspirations of being a CTO someday and if it requires a piece of paper that says I passed a few programming and Calculus classes, than so be it. Whether it’s self-taught or formal education, the most important thing to do is further your knowledge.

Tech

I’ve learned over the years that following the right tech can lead you to success. This can be a bit tricky, however, because the IT industry commonly falls for the new shiny toy cough Kubernetes cough. I was lucky enough to jump on the cloud wave while the company I work for started to pick up projects that included cloud technologies. My point is, be on the look out for what tech is trending and go for it. Before I was working with cloud technology, I was answering help desk calls in a cubicle. There was no future in that. The career growth was as high as the walls of my cubicle. I’ve worked with system administrators that have been patching Windows servers for 20 years. Perhaps in their mind, that’s how they’ve found success but not for me. I saw cloud technology become more and more necessary as businesses were able to benefit from all of the cloud offerings. At the time, I saw AWS as the leading cloud provider and I went all in with trying to learn as much as possible. This opened all sorts of doors and opportunities because I was following the right tech.

Motivation

If there is one thing that is certain in this industry, it’s change. Technology is constantly changing and evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s difficult to find the motivation to keep up. Frankly, it’s exhausting to learn something and then have it be obsolete shortly after. Often times I am frustated to work on a solution only to find out that AWS has come out with a service to solve this problem. My Twitter timeline is a firehose of information about new tech and how it can optimize enterprise architectures. In some ways, this is a good thing. We are in the age of information and you don’t have to go far to find what you’re looking for. The bottom line is don’t get down. Never stop learning. A lot of my success so far has been because I stay hungry to learn more. I don’t think it’s realistic to stay on top of everything but pick a few areas and work your butt off to be a leader in it. I’ve found that I’m much more confident when speaking to clients because I put in the effort to continuously learn and get better. Although, be careful because no one likes a know-it-all.

Ultimately, people find success in many different ways. In my opinion, I’ve found success in IT with education, the technology I work with, and the motivation to keep getting better. This might just be me getting my thoughts onto a blog but I hope this helps someone out there to further their career.

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