What makes an IT professional a successful person? This question has been discussed, debated, and considered for many decades. While technical skills are important for success, I want to focus on the character traits that every IT professional should have and the things that every IT pro should know. It is harder to develop and improve character traits such as honesty and curiosity. However, it is possible to learn and improve professional skills like being able to recognize when something is unclear or to call technical support.
If you are interested in a career as an IT professional, consider your character traits. No matter how long your experience in the field, everyone can learn and improve in the Things You Know and Do section.
Character traits are often things you are born with, or have a natural tendency to. Working hard can help you improve your talents. If you have goals, these skills will help you succeed.
If you prefer a routine with few interruptions and high levels of predictability, IT may not be the right fit for you. To be a successful IT professional, you must be flexible at both the micro and macro levels.
Things change at the micro level every minute of the day. Your email server goes down, your drive crashes, or a senior employee deletes an important file. It is crucial that you get it back quickly in order to attend a large meeting. These are all common situations that occur every day.
Your hours are the same. While you may work 9-5, there’s a good chance you will need to work overtime or weekends to solve a problem. This is IT’s nature and it’s why we are paid well in comparison to other careers.
At the macro level adaptability is crucial. Our way of doing things changes constantly. Network servers replaced mainframe-access PCs. This resulted in server sprawl, which led to virtualization, now known as cloud computing. There weren’t many standards in 1980 for networking PCs. Floppy disks were used for sharing information between computers, or, if you wanted something really innovative, to share data via a 9,600bps modem. This was the beginnings of ARCNET, Token Ring, and FDDI in 1990s. In the 2000s, Ethernet physically was introduced, as well as NetBEUI, IPX, and TCP/IP. To manage, control and secure traffic, many switches, routers and other devices were needed. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are changing the networking conversation. Novell Netware replaced Banyan Vines. This was replaced by Linux/UNIX and Windows servers. Similar transformations occurred in programming, storage and many other areas.
Each situation requires you to adapt and change.
Inquisitive/ Curious/ Want to Learn
Next is curiosity, inquisitiveness and a willingness to learn. All these traits point to the same thing: an insatiable desire to learn new things. This is closely linked to adaptability. To be able to adapt, one must continue to learn new things, keep up to date with industry trends, and decide which areas to study. There is so much more you can learn in IT. Find your passions and get started studying them. It is important that you understand the relationship between IT and other areas. Be aware of any changes in the area and any related areas. It is possible to determine if your locality is in decline.