The Father's Day before this past one, I asked myself — given the huge workload and constant change associated with working in IT — whether I would advise my son to choose IT as a career. I ran through a several different possibilities: app dev, security, analytics, and so on. Starting with the assumption I'd support anything legal my son wanted to do, I decided that, yes, I would recommend a career in IT, provided he began that journey with a real passion for tech.
At the end of that post, I asked what others would recommend and got a number of thoughtful comments, pro and con. Then this full-length response arrived the other day from a reader who, for reasons that will become clear, did not want me to reveal his name. I felt it was worth sharing:
I just read an article you wrote about a year ago talking about what you would tell your son if he wanted to follow you into IT. I have a bit of a unique perspective on this because I actually did follow my dad into IT, and my answer would be to warn them against a career in IT with every fiber in my being.
I grew up never considering for a second that I'd do anything but what my dad did and still does, but now at age 34, I look back and realize how miserable and disappointing my career has been. When I was a kid, it looked to me like my dad made a lot of money doing cool stuff most people couldn't, and to be fair, I may not have been far from the mark in the '80s.
What I didn't expect was that, by the time I graduated college in 2001, my prospect for the kind of career my dad had was basically nonexistent because of a combination of the dot-com bust and the flood of new "techs" who, to put it bluntly, would have been working in the mail room five to 10 years earlier. I did what a lot of people in my position probably did and loaded up on certifications and all, still got no interviews for anything outside of support, and found myself settling for a promotion to management because, despite two CCNPs, a CCDA, and more Microsoft certs than I can count on my fingers, I couldn't get a job doing anything other than support. I didn't want the job and only took it because it was the only way I saw myself making any more damn money in this business.
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