Working in IT: The Eternal Frontier

As the world trudges forward, industries that are unable to change are often left in the wake. Video rental, land-line phones, print news — these are just a few examples of technological models that have been rendered nearly obsolete by emerging technologies.

Tech seems to be a safe-haven and even a growing career field. Emerging technologies are especially safe, requiring human evaluation and acquisition.

Careers in technology are in focus this week as part of the celebration of National STEM Career Day. MSU IT Human Resources and Training Manager Chris Brandenburg discussed some of the highlights that make Information Technology an exciting and rewarding field.

The Advantage

While tech has continued to remove the human element from both manufacturing and service-based industries, there will always be a constant need for humans to evaluate the efficacy of emerging technology.

Chris believes that this opportunity to explore new technologies is one of the most exciting things about IT work.

“You’re on the front line of the technology that’s impacting your organization. You’re a Guinea pig. You get the new tech, you poke around in it, you try to play with it…it’s neat. You see something brand new, and that’s exciting.”

The Challenge

While the opportunity to explore new technologies can be rewarding, Brandenburg also acknowledged that the pace in which technology develops is also one of the biggest challenges of the industry.

“Information Technology is constantly changing. You’re always trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. In IT, you’re up-to-date today and out-of-date tomorrow. It’s a huge competition.

Once Apple does this, here comes Samsung, then here comes Google. It’s a constant battle to be on the cutting edge. Even here at MSU, farm equipment is now digital. There are screens telling me all sorts of stuff that 10 to 20 years ago no one would have access to.”

Navigating Change: A Skill Set

This constantly-evolving nature is what makes working in IT so unique: the most important skill set for a successful IT professional is the ability to adapt to change.

To do this, IT professionals require flexibility, inquisitiveness, and a commitment to working through difficulties using sound judgment and critical thinking. While some of these may be considered soft skills in many industries, in IT they are essential.

Chris had this Advice for Prospective IT Professionals:

“Go into it willing to learn as much as you can. There are tons of areas in IT that are vastly different but intertwined. It’s important to understand them enough to pursue whatever focus you want to work on. Be a dry sponge that’s willing to soak up as much knowledge from any area of IT as you can before making up your mind and saying, ‘This is what I want to do.’”