Friday, February 19, 2010

Information Technology as a Career

Information Technology. What is it? It is the use of computers, computer software and computer networks to transmit, process and store information (or data). It is happening all around us every day. From the cash registers at your local department store to your favorite restaurant. It is on the job in your cell phone and your car's GPS. It helps us travel as tools to control traffic lights and air traffic schedules. We even rely on it to manage our money within our financial institutions.

So, with so much Information Technology in the world around us, what does it take for a growing young person to make a career out of it? I'll tell you.

First and most important, you have to have a love for technology. It could be a love for electronics, robotics, computer software, computer networks or computer hardware, but the love must be there. The cool thing, and possibly my favorite, about Information Technology is that it can be the combination of ANY information and ANY technology that you choose. Like the examples that I gave in the introduction, the limit is your imagination.

If you are interested in art, then you could combine that with your love of technology by becoming a website designer, computer generated graphics artist, or video game developer. If you have interest in money and finances, you could use that to develop new systems for accounting, banking, or stock trading industries. Maybe you're in to sports or auto racing. You could develop a complex database to store, compare and report on team and player statistics to be used by professional sports organizations.

Whatever you decide, the more experience you can get working with computers and computer systems the better off you'll be. You can start as small as I did by simply taking a look inside your family PC (get your parents' permission first... I learned that the hard way). Take out a memory chip and try to start the PC to see what results you get. Then put it back and watch what happens (make sure the power is off before adding or removing stuff inside your computer). Study the way the software on your computer is organized. What files are important for the system to start up and function? Which ones are just extra? Which ones should probably not be there? All of those things are very valuable pieces of the puzzle.

School will give you the skills and knowledge you need to perform the tasks in Information Technology, but experience with those skills is what you'll need to develop the wisdom to make quick and efficient decisions in a fast-paced technology career.