Like many people who end up working in the technology field, I haven’t learned everything I know from a textbook.
There’s a lot to be said for real world experience, and that’s especially true in the current world of Information Technology. These days, technology is in a constant state of flux, with new software releases driving hardware advances; with constant demand for gathering more and better information; and with new malicious software outbreaks around every corner. Clearly, if you don’t keep up, you’re going to be left behind.
That being the case, though tech school and book learning are essential to provide a good grasp of the fundamentals and to give context for solving problems, it’s never REALLY going to prepare you for the real-world experiences of being a technician in 2015. The world of IT is a vast ocean of subject matter and the tech school curriculum is only a short cruise in an outdated vessel; it doesn’t have the capacity to dive into the 20,000 leagues beneath you.
In tech school, we were taught the basics (computer components, security measures, and basic programming language – which, for the record, was COBOL, which came out in the 1960s!). It wasn’t until I got my first job as a tech did I really understand how integral computers were to the business world – and that’s the great divide between school and real life.
So, as a public service announcement to those interesting in entering the field, here are a few things that fall under the heading of “what they don’t teach you in tech school.”
First up: How much proactive work you’ll be doing.
The best IT companies rarely operate in the “break/fix” mode, where technicians simply react to outages and tech crises, as I believed would be the case. I wasn’t prepared for all the proactive work that goes into working for a Managed Service Provider, where most tasks involve monitoring, upgrading and keeping an eye on possible issues BEFORE things go off the rails.