CIS "Digital Advisor" @ OC

The Information Technology (IT) Lifestyle

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. -Steve Jobs

Welcome to the IT Lifestyle page of the CIS Digital Advisor. This page was was created to provide you with some thoughts and tips as you start a career in the IT field. Please take a moment to click on the banners below and read through the various items. Thanks!

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Career Expectations (Click to view) +/-

Types of IT Positions:

"My diverse background, work experience, and education enables me to work across multiple facets." -James A. DiIanni Consulting, LLC

For many, a position in IT is exciting and rewarding. IT jobs are in demand and offer high paying jobs. The reason for this is IT is hard. It tends to be very technical, requires constant professional development, and often takes long hours. It requires dedication. Some of the broader areas in IT are networking/security, programming, Web development, and technical support. In addition to technical knowledge, today's business environment requires "soft skills" that include communication and interpersonal skills. Computer Information Sysytems (CIS) at Olympic College offers various programs in these areas. Please explore the CIS Digital Advisor and review program outcomes and required classes to see what may be a good fit for you. Attending an advising session is strongly recommended.

Lifestyles of the "Rich" and IT:

"Learning all the time. Being able to implement new technologies. Everyday is like a mystery you never know what will happen." -Lynne Abbay, Information Technology Specialist 3, Olympic College

If you are doctor, you have doctor’s lifestyle, if you are a student you have a student’s lifestyle. In the IT industry, you are not signing up for a 9-5 job that relies on time clocks. Rather, many IT jobs support a 24-hour day. Just getting a degree in an IT related field is the start of your professional development. You will also need to stay current in your field by reading journals and Web sites related to you field, attending periodic training and conferences, and developing yourself to where you want to be in five years. IT is constantly changing and so will you if you want to be valuable to your organization. Being an IT professional takes work.

Organizational Expectations of IT Staff:

"Success requires great communication and teamwork... Good processes will never trump having good people." -Jake Christensen, Chief Technologist, Paladin Data Systems

Working in IT is different than most other positions within an organization. For most organizations today, IT is what makes the organization function. Period. If the computers that run the servers that make data possible for the staff and public go dark, most organizations today grind to a halt. IT doesn't typically make money for the organization, but they make it possible for the organization to reach its goals. Most positions in IT are subject to the needs of the organization 24x7. This means, you may be both a cost-entity to the organization and at the same time a vital resource. Your skills are needed at all times to get servers back online, manage Web pages, and troubleshoot programs that stop working when such issues impact the functionally of the organization or the support to its customers. Things need to work and work well. That is where great IT professionalism comes in.

Great Link:

Voice of experience: What IT newbies should know @ InfoWorld (A must read!)

Managing Your Education +/-

Learning is hard... Why do we say that learning is hard? Because it goes beyond passively participating, and instead challenges your assumptions and beliefs. Learning requires your active involvement. The goal of any presentation, by lecture, video, or a book, is to give you a reasonable framework for *your* learning at a given point in your learning process. Learning doesn't come from hearing or watching, it comes from doing, thinking, and reflecting of what *you* know and how it might be applied to thinking about issues or solving problems. Learning is more than doing the even-numbered questions at the end of the chapter and looking up the answers. This is not learning. Learning is hard. You need to be the one to spend the time to experience learning by research, activity, or discussion. Self-expression is a key indicator of *your* learning when you can explain yourself and your ideas to others in a useful and meaningful way.

There are two basic areas in your personal life you need to consider. First being your time. Education takes time. Being a full-time student can easily take 40+ hours a week to help ensure success. As you become a student, you will need to consider how your life might need to be reorganized and what you may need to forgo for a period to be the student you want to be. Second may be the expectation others have about you and your time. If you are the first person in your family to attend college, the people around you may not be aware of the new time demands on your life. It will be tempting to try to live a "double life"--the one you had before school and the one you have now as a student. Another issue, especially for first generation students, is the possible drift between your family and friends as your knowledge, skills, and outlook starts to change. Your interest and their interest may begin to separate and you may find it hard at times to "connect" to your family and friends the way you did before you started your academics.

Transitioning to the workplace +/-

Your transition into the workplace starts when you start your academic career. Below are a few suggestions you may want to consider now to be job ready when you graduate. Your future is not only based on your education, but also on your relationship to it.

Career Spotlights +/-

Feel free to peruse the following links from for added insights into various IT-related careers.

Career Spotlight: Software Developer

Programming is the backbone of information technology. Programmers write the code that runs everything from Web pages to cell phones to computer games. Without software developers, there would be no Google or Halo II. Read more about the Software Developer's job at Software Developer.

Career Spotlight: Web Developer

A Web developer is responsible for the behind-the-scenes code and programming of Web sites and Web-based services. While the edges are often blurred in Web positions, Web developers typically have a more technical orientation than Web designers, who focus on a site’s look and feel, and information architects, who focus on sites’ organization. Web developers’ projects vary widely, ranging from bare-bones active Web pages to complex, multilayered Web applications that might power an ecommerce site. Read more about the Web Developer's job at Web Developer.

Career Spotlight: System Administrator

Sysadmins are responsible for various components of an organization's computer systems, depending on their experience and department size, as well as the roles played by other tech professionals, such asnetwork administrators, database administrators and technical support workers. System administrators typically handle such tasks as troubleshooting, server configuration and managing security. A sysadmin may be fine-tuning a server for a Web-connected application one minute and the next fielding a call from a marketing manager who needs a new multimedia application installed. Read more about the System Administrator's job at System Administrator.

Career Spotlight: Web 2.0

Just what constitutes Web 2.0 is hotly debated among in-the-know techies, but the term generally refers to a new generation of streamlined, easy-to-use Web-based applications and services designed to mimic the look and feel of desktop applications. Typically highly interactive, these programs encourage information sharing and draw on a common set of techniques and technologies -- in particular, AJAX, which stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Read more about the Web 2.0 Specialist's job at Web 2.0.

Career Spotlight: Technical Writing

Contrary to what many assume, working as a technical writer involves much more than sitting alone at your PC. The job requires plenty of contact with technical professionals, from programmers and project managers to machine operators and medical technicians. Solitary? Not quite. Collaborative? Most definitely. Read more about the Technical Writer's job at Technical Writer

Career Spotlight: Computer Forensics

Specialists in this field, known as computer forensics, combine technical expertise with investigative skills and in-depth knowledge of the legal system. The field's techniques are used not just by law-enforcement agencies but also in the corporate world for investigations into workplace improprieties as well as potentially illegal behavior. Read more about the Computer Forensics job at Computer Forensics.

Career Spotlight: Game Programmer

When you think of game developers, chances are good you think of a programmer. There is no surprise there, since code is the core stuff of games. This is according to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), which is an important resource for aspiring and working game programmers. Read more about the Game Programmer's job at Game Programmer.

Career Spotlight: Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Today's CIO CIOs plays a key, highly visible role in working with other top-level executives to set strategies and make decisions that reverberate throughout the company. Read more about the CIO job at The CIO.

Self Quiz! How did you do? +/-

Select the best response(s) for question/statement (multiple selections may apply)

1) A successful CIS student...
learns to prioritize life and school demands
should make a commitment to life-long learning
waits until the last possible minute to complete assignments

2) Education is about...
taking ownership of your learning
reading and watching videos
preparing yourself for future learning

3) Most IT positions...
typically do not interact with others
require a 24x7 response
exist to support the goals of the organization


Your Feedback! +/-