For many people, IT represents the department called when there is a problem with their computer at work. It’s the nerdy in-law called when you download an app that you shouldn’t have and need them to unfreeze your phone. Information technology covers a variety of careers, from hardware troubleshooting to cyber security.
So how do you decide what road to travel? And how do you get started? Before you go and sign up for a bunch of courses that you most likely are not ready for, take the time to examine where your interests lie, so you don’t waste time and energy going down the wrong p.
Before doing anything else, figure out WHY? Why IT? Are you looking for a career change? Hoping to take a few coding classes, build an app, and cash in? Do you like examining different applications on your phone and computer? Are you curious about how data flows back and forth between the various applications that you use daily? Do you want to be able to pull large amounts of data into a manageable set of information? The WHY is the question that needs to be answered before you even think of writing a single line of code.
The WHY: MILLION DOLLAR IDEA!
Getting your application to market is going to change the world and make you rich! Well, once you figure out how to tell a loop from an integer. Can you picture yourself five years from now expanding your skill set to new and ever-changing developments and applying what seems practical to your own work?
Programming web and mobile apps might be a great choice for you. So what language should you start with? None. Before you start programming, you must understand programming. This means getting a basic understanding of what programming is before focusing on a specific language or framework. Sure, you could go out and purchase a book in any language that suits you and start typing away. You may put together some competent applications. Inevitably, there will come challenges that leave you stuck if you don’t have a solid foundation of programming principles. At a minimum, learn the ins and outs of functional and object-oriented programming before you do anything else. Nailing down these concepts will give you the confidence needed to proceed in the programming language of your choice.
The WHY: WHERE DOES THE DATA COME FROM?
A top of the line application has top of the line data architecture. That architecture takes into account every possible path for that data, from storing it in various repositories, or presenting it to an end user in a variety of ways. Nothing ruins the reputation of an application more than not being able to rely on data to be where the user needs it to be WHEN they need it to be there. Just like with programming, start with the building blocks. Understand what data structures are, as well as the different ways that data can be stored and transferred. Study those concepts, then decide how you want to proceed. Possible career paths include fields from database programming to data mining to any other number of options involving data management.
The WHY: HOW DOES THIS WORK?
Technology gets complicated. Even those who build and manage it can get lost in the details. Documentation is critical and often neglected. Having the ability to break down a piece of architecture into components that can be understood by both technical and non-technical users is critical for technical writers. Having strong writing and communication skills, along with an aptitude for computers and programming lends itself well to this career path. The most important part of technical writing is the WRITING, so shore up your basic writing and grammar skills. Learn how to use programs that allow you to diagram critical structures of the system. Become versed in how to present these visually so that end users of at any technical level grasp the concepts.
These are just a few questions to consider when deciding if IT is a viable career option. An ever-expanding field, new opportunities open up every day for people from all walks of life. Look for programs at higher education institutions. Consider online options if your schedule won’t allow for traditional classes. There’s no one true path to IT. Your path can lead you to the IT shop of a Fortune 500 company, or allow you to build your own website to support a business. What’s important is finding what’s right for you and being willing to build a solid foundation of knowledge.