21 Jul 2013
How I Made a Successful Career In IT
I actually get quite a lot of feedback from people asking me how I’ve managed to make such a successful career in IT at the tender age of 28 (well, 29 in a few weeks). To be honest I think a lot of it is how career driven I am as an individual, but I’ll go on to explain some of what I think has helped me along the way.
I’ve been working in the IT industry for 10 years now, starting of as an Information Systems Engineer within the British Army, then going on to being an IT engineer, and then manager for a great company called The PC Support Group. I now work for Hewlett Packard as part of a team of engineers that manage enterprise level security systems for many large companies. As well as this I also run a successful and profitable technology blog and a small but growing web design company. So what has driven me to take on so much and so far make it a success? Let’s take a look…
Be interested in what you do
Sure I have days were I can’t wait to get home and chill out, but most of the time I do really enjoy going to work. I enjoy web design, and I enjoy writing blog posts like this. I think if you don’t enjoy what you do then it will inevitably show through and have a detrimental impact on your career. Not only that, but because the IT industry is so dynamic you need to have a genuine interest in the industry just to keep abreast of the latest technologies and trends.
Creating a blog just to make money isn’t the way to thing either. Do it because you enjoy it and write about a subject you care about. This will show through in your posts, which should earn more visits over time and then in turn start to make you money if you do it right. This is very difficult to do though, I think a lot of my success with RefuGeeks has been down to dumb luck. Just don’t blog to make money as it really shows through.
Be willing to learn
Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. This was most prevalent when I worked for The PC Support Group. I worked with a brilliant group of engineers and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learnt from the two company directors. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge or inclination to start KQ Creative (my web design company).
Keep expanding your horizons. Personally I started out working with Microsoft technologies, and it’s still what I specialise in now. However, I wanted to learn something new so I went ahead and installed a copy of Ubuntu on my home PC and the rest is history — I started to learn Linux. Working with enterprise security devices now, I use Linux every single day — both professionally and privately. I’m not scared of learning new things, I actually relish the opportunity.
Everyone makes mistakes — learn from them
I’ve made some absolute cracking mistakes in my time. From blowing up a PSU on a server by accident to actually quoting and ordering the completely wrong server for a client. This cost the company around £3,500 if I remember rightly. But I tell you something, I’ve learnt from those mistakes and I will never make them again.
To be successful in any career path, not just IT, you need to be willing to learn and make mistakes. The great Albert Einstein once said “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” So if Einstein made mistakes, then surely all of us can! Just remember not to dwell on them. Learn from them, dust yourself off and move on knowing that you are a better person for it.
Experience is everything
Some people may find this quite controversial, but I personally don’t believe in university degrees. I don’t have a degree, and I don’t believe the vast amount of the population need a degree either. Unless you’re going to be a lawyer, doctor, teacher, or something similar; I really don’t see the point.
Whenever I used to trawl through prospective engineer CV’s when we had an opening, I always looked at that persons experience over what qualifications they had. Because for all the reasons I have listed above, I think it’s fare more important than any piece of paper (not to mention the debt that goes with it).
In my role as the IT Manager for The PC Support Group we always conducted two sets of interviews. An initial one with the MD to see if they are fit for the role, and a technical one with myself and the OD (Operations Director). I don’t recall a single time that the three of us had a discussion about an applicant and the subject of them having a degree or not coming up. Because it isn’t important!
I’m not saying that degrees aren’t important for all jobs. I’m just saying that young people today need to spend less time doing pointless degrees, for example in fashion design (why do you need a degree to be a good designer???), and spend more time getting important career experience that will actually help them in the future. That’s what I did and I don’t regret it for a second.
Am I a millionaire? Absolutely not. Will I ever be a millionaire? Probably not. But I am financially comfortable, happy in my job, and happy in my personal life. Success is completely subjective, one person may view my career as a complete success so far, and others may find me an absolute failure as I’m not a .com millionaire.
I don’t really care, and neither should you. Make up your own measures of success and stick to them. If you reach, or even surpass them then who is anyone else to tell you that you’re a failure. I say f**k them! As long as you’re happy that’s all that matters, and that’s what I am…happy.
I know this post has mutated from it’s original subject somewhat, into some kind of self-righteous, putting the world to rights post and I apologies for that. I’ve gotten a lot of emails from visitors and social follows asking how I manage it all, and how I got where I am today. So now you know, and you got some pretty long ramblings to go along with it. Talk about opening a can of worms. :-)
I hope you enjoyed the post nevertheless. How do you measure your success or failure? I’d love to hear your thoughts…