5 things you need to know when starting your first job in IT
“Have you tried turning it on and off again?” We all know that phrase from popular TV shows that make fun of a company’s IT crew. Things have changed, however, and today IT is the beating heart of the organization. You hold the key to success for most business opportunities.
Cloud technology, artificial intelligence, automation, … In the coming years, IT will only become more important for companies in a wide variety of industries. So, if you are looking for your first IT job, you stand at the beginning of an amazing career full of challenges and opportunities. To make a successful career start, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Don’t focus on technology, talk about the business opportunities you create
Virtualization, open source, machine learning, DevOPS, … When people ask about your job, these words sound like Chinese and they have no idea of what you do. Instead of focusing on those fancy names or on the solutions you deliver, explain the business opportunities you create. How you increased the efficiency of teams, how you helped to improve the customer experience, how you supported the company in developing new business models …
Think big! Even as a starter, you will play an important role in your employer’s success story. After all, you have a refreshing view on the way the company is working. Take your time to understand the business and goals of the organization. It will help you identify bottlenecks and propose the best and most cost-effective solutions for each challenge.
At C-level, managers are not interested in technology terms, but they are willing to pay a lot for someone who helps them boost their business. Make it happen and you will soon climb the ladder.
2. You need to understand many ‘languages’
As an IT expert, you speak to almost every department in the organization. Therefore, avoid the typical developer speech and try to understand the language of people in finance, HR, sales, etc. If you know what obstacles they encounter in their work, you can translate those insights into technological solutions. So, ask the right questions and always be patient. While new technology is a small step for an IT expert like you, it can be giant leap for your average colleague.
This may sound like an enormous task, but you will build those skills and expertise over the years. Steal with your eyes and ears, learn from your peers and try to see the bigger picture of how IT and the use of technology in a company have evolved.
3. IT is a team sport
We know there is an “I” in IT, but there is also a “T”. And the “T” stands for “Team”. Usually, you are part of a larger team. The bigger the organization, the more IT profiles exist in the ecosystem. But even in smaller companies you will always be working with other people. Just like some football players are there to give assists and allow the strikers to score goals, you as an IT expert are responsible for making sure that other people can be successful. In other words, you need a certain level of collaboration skills.
When people realize they can talk to you and discuss their challenges, you will also get much more satisfaction from your work. As in any job, IT has its frustrating moments. But remember: a team player is never alone.
4. Learn how to disconnect
Being responsible for the success of a company is wonderful, but it also comes at a price. It’s easy to lose yourself in your tasks and work long hours. Make sure to leave stress at your desk and disconnect when you get home. Or if you work from home, create a separate workspace and try to find a ritual to start and end your day. For example, you can go out for a walk to clear your head.
Even the best team player needs some time for himself, so explain that you don’t read your emails or messages after you close your pc. Unless you have agreed to be on standby, of course. Other things can wait until tomorrow.
5. Never stop learning
Young people like you know that graduation is not an end point, but the beginning of lifelong learning journey. Just as many of your peers need to upskill to work with technology, you need to focus on staying up-to-date on the latest solutions and developments. Nothing changes faster than IT, and taking training courses or reading blogs can really make a difference for the company your work for. Besides, you cannot be an expert in everything so you will learn a lot on the job and from colleagues.
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