Every once in a while you’ll come across a doom-and-gloom article along the lines of “Ten Reasons for Quitting IT.” Writer and Linux expert Jack Wallen must have been in a particularly bad mood when he penned this piece for TechRepublic back in February. Weirdly, when he asked commenters to chime in on what kinds of careers they’d rather have, a long conversation about family farming took place. Is IT so bad that your average techie would be happier cleaning chicken coops?
Of course not. Perhaps it’s time for an optimistic mid-year reminder of why information technology is the place to be today, and why it will continue to be the place to be in the years and decades to come.
IT Is Interesting
First of all, technology is an ever-changing puzzle that never fails to keep its practitioners engaged. The negative spin is that IT changes too fast and is too hard and too confusing to ever master completely. So what? You don’t have to. All you have to do is embrace your specialty and hang on tight as it pulls you into the future. Yes, you need to keep learning along the way, but isn’t that what the human mind is designed for? Coal miners don’t learn something new every day, but you do.
IT Leads the Way
Journalists often talk about the fun of having a “front row seat to history.” IT has that, too, in a way. Technologists are the people who lead their organizations into the future. They did it 30 years ago by putting PCs on desks. They did it 20 years ago when they started hooking up those PCs to the Internet. They did it 10 years ago when they began to deploy sophisticated network-based apps, the kinds of things that are still in their infancy today. Your colleagues depend on you to show them what the future will bring. It’s fun to the be the first one to know, isn’t it?
IT Is Everywhere
It’s easy to forget that IT isn’t just about server rooms in the basements of big city skyscrapers, designed solely to process petabytes of boring data for Fortune 500 spreadsheets. Technology is everywhere: in real estate offices and college libraries and stadiums and at turtle sanctuaries on Caribbean islands. Your skills can be of use in any kind of organization anywhere. Companies need to become more efficient and to connect. That’s what IT delivers.
IT Makes Money
Over the past few years we’ve all read articles about how IT has earned its place at the boardroom table and how from the CIO down, technology is regarded as a central part of the business process, not just an infrastructural enabler. Techies don’t make technology cases anymore. They make business cases, and that makes them invaluable to the organization.
IT Will Grow
Although we’re still in a downturn, the number of IT jobs in the U.S. has reached its pre-recession level of 4 million, and is certain to keep rising as survey after survey tells us that the “jobs of the future” will have technological components, and that the nation’s leading growth industries — biotech, healthcare, energy — require lots of technology jobs. Politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about this all the time. You’re sure to hear about retraining for technology jobs in lots of 2012 stump speeches.
IT Will Save the World
One of the main reasons I’ve always enjoyed technology is that it makes me — and the world — much more efficient. Yes, it uses up a whole lot of energy, but people are working on that (maybe you should be too). Stop and look around for a minute, and you’ll see that the biggest problems the world faces — ecological, economic, social — can all be addressed by cleverly deployed technological solutions. Some of them haven’t been invented yet, but they will be, perhaps by someone like you. Ten years ago we couldn’t have imagined that Twitter and smartphones would help foment revolutions or that websites would help us make microloans to Cambodian farmers, but today they do. And tomorrow…