A guide to a career in the tech industry

18 thoughts on “A guide to a career in the tech industry”

  1. Fun overview of the field, Steve. Your first point, “working in IT sucks,” is a perfect example of why I’m hesitant about the idea of turning your passion into work as the way to find happiness. Just because you have an interest in many IT-related things doesn’t mean working in it every day is necessarily a pleasure.

    In some of the organizations where I’ve worked, it’s embarrassing the way IT was often treated as an afterthought to corporate strategy. The non-IT executives would lay out what they wanted with little regard for technology capabilities and constraints, and IT was left to “figure it out.” I suspect that 50 years from now, as technology becomes the core competency of more companies, executive leaders will more often come from technology backgrounds. But today, we still live in a world where many C-suite executives making business decisions can just say, “oh, I’m not a technology person.” That’s brutal on the IT department, both for workload and morale. IT also always seemed to be the department most frequently on site all weekend fixing issues and launching new systems, and the one getting the fewest thanks when everything runs smoothly.

    On a related note, I once had the pleasure of being the middleman between IT and an executive team that wanted to see a 30% reduction in IT spending. I’m sure you can imagine how fun that project was.

    1. Thanks Matt. I can only imagine how that project went. It’s interesting to me how little that some companies want to spend on their IT, but how much that they depend on them for their very existence. It’s tough to have it both ways. Reality doesn’t work like that. 🙂

    2. Ha, you’d think that having executives coming from a technology background helps with management? Sadly that’s not always try. Sony is a good example of executives with a strong tech background… in hardware. The result is that working for their software division sucked dramatically, from the reports I’ve had from many engineers. “we design and create the cool hardware, all you software guys have to do is write the tiny bits of code to glue things together, why is it taking so long?”

      Bad executives are bad executives, no matter what their background might be. Conversely, I’ve worked with executives who had no tech background, and knew that they could not make some of the tech decision without proper advice, which led them to empower some of their dev teams…

  2. I work in tech and can say there is a huge difference between working for a tech company and working in tech for a company. Tech company is better for perks, culture, and speed of change but tech role in any company is good for being promoted quickly, less competition for management roles, etc.

    1. Yup, that’s very, very true. I’ve worked in both types of positions and, like you said, they are quite different. Definitely less competition working in an IT department! 🙂

  3. It’s interesting to learn about your field! What’s especially fascinating is how much of that applies to my work, even though I’m in a totally unrelated field — I think a lot of it is just common to consulting generally (the urgency, 24/7 reachability, coming in to a situation that’s already a mess, etc.). It’s great of you to pass on this knowledge before you peace out! 🙂

    1. That’s definitely true, this kind of stuff happens in all different types of organizations. But in IT, things tend to get magnified, especially customer-facing things. And who’s on the hook to get it fixed? Very often, fairly low paid and overworked staff. I’m no longer low paid, but I remember when I was. 🙂

  4. Wow, you’re giving me nightmares Steve!

    I lived this life for way too long…and I’m glad I’m done with it. I don’t want to remember the days of angry executives calling me about some broken system….and they always want it fixed *yesterday*.

    There’s a reason folks in IT tend to gravitate toward FI/ER. I kind of think it’s the job that pushes us there.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Tako. I agree, there is a reason why IT folks are common in the early retirement world. It’s not fun sometimes, especially after 10 or more years doing it.

  5. That was a really good overview of a career in IT. I’ve been in it for 34 years now. You are very correct about the constantly changing complexity. After 34 years I still find myself using my main debugging tool, “Google”. You would think I’d be an “expert” by now! However, as you indicated it is a lucrative field and I’ve been saving my entire career. Unfortunately, I also got caught up in buying lots of stuff and ever bigger houses. So now I’m 57 and waiting for an impending layoff. I can’t stomach the thought of another job in IT so I sold the big house and am planning on using the equity to pay cash for something much smaller. That will enable me to retire early next year (If I can hold out that long!). Keep up the good work, your story and continued adventures are inspirational.

    1. Thanks Robert! I got caught up in that very same habit of buying stupid stuff that I didn’t need, and now I’m paying for it, literally and figuratively. Appreciate your encouragement!

  6. Thanks for the post detailing a little about your experience in IT! In school, I couldn’t stand debugging because it took me 5 hours to look for that one missing comma but after I found the mistake I loved debugging and coding. The roller coaster ride never ends!

    IT I’m assuming has been so big recently because of all the security issues. I’ve been a victim of a security breach and it’s kinda scary how easy it was for the hacker to find out my information.. When will it ever stop is the million dollar question, right?

    1. Roller coaster indeed, Finance Solver! And I don’t think it will ever stop. The more sophisticated corporate security gets, the more sophisticated hackers become. It’s a never ending cycle, and just something that we’ll have to be content with. In IT, nothing will ever be full proof.

  7. What an interesting article. I have been working in the IT industry mainly as a consultant for more than 17 years and your description as impressively precise ! 🙂

    Yes, there is some good money to make but directly related with the amount of stress you can handle. So far I have been able to handle a lot so money has been very good. But the more I work in the industry the more I realize the false sense of urgency that keeps manager pushing over and over is slowly but surely makes me realize that the support might not be the right job for me 🙂 !

    That’s why on the side I’m trying to build my passive income with investment and dividends. But in order to build an interesting portfolio that generates income I need to keep working on supporting system that crashes over and over again…

    I also agree with you that working in the industry as a web developer, QA analyst or any role that is far from the production system support might be the solution to lower the associated stress but also the pay that comes with it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. It’s great that IT pays so well…it definitely helps us to save a good deal of money. For us, it’s one of those careers that we can do for a while just to stockpile money, then get out. Even if I wasn’t planning on retiring this year, I couldn’t make it through another 10 or 20 years of IT. Not a chance.

  8. I’m a graduate of IT. Yeah, its really difficult especially debugging. It irritates me knowing im just missing a single comma or not even closing a statement. sometimes I get lost in my codings. But in the end, ita all worth it. All those stress and hard work has payed off and by the way I just graduated last year thats the good things but I know theres more to come. Im glad though its an experience as well. Awesome Article though, Good job!

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