The following is a post I made on TechExams.net, an IT certification messageboard, in response to a young man that had been turned down for a position recently and complained that he felt IT was too elitist because of it.
In the words of the great Ben Croshaw: “Allow me to hold your head under the putrescent waters of knowledge.”
Is the IT industry elitist? In a word: yes. It’s one of the few industries where the words “entry level” actually mean you should have several years of experience before applying. It’s an industry where there is always someone younger, someone smarter, someone willing to work longer hours out to take your job and steal your promotion. It’s an industry notorious for its demand that we update our skills faster and faster with each passing year, and that’s simply to stay current with the job(s) we already work in.
However, there are some pretty good reasons.
The first reason is that, in IT, the spectrum of responsibility you are expected to carry can range from simply making sure a few office-workers can connect to the internet and download their email, to keeping system-critical servers and equipment working for hospitals and banks. We need to stay sharp, we need to keep ourselves up to date, and we need to grow with technology or we can’t do our jobs and maintain that technology. That, of course, brings me to another reason.
Technology changes, the needs of businesses and users change, and we have to change with them. There is no way to do business today the way we did in the 80′s, the 90′s, or even the way we did in 2005. If you want to complain because you’re just now learning what a server is, and most companies want someone who understands virtualization, that’s nobody’s problem but yours. One of the points that Ayn Rand once made is one I whole-heartedly agree with: a person is not hired for a job to his or her best, they’re hired to do what is necessary to complete that job. This industry requires a VAST amount of knowledge on our part, a great deal of flexibility, and a practical understanding of how to use that knowledge to keep the world running. On to the next point.
As Sabalo mentioned, there are lots of people who get into IT thinking it’s easy money, then complain when they find out it’s harder than they thought. Oddly, no one expects to be a doctor, physicist, astronaut, firefighter, or engineer without a lot of work beforehand, and this industry is no different. And, honestly, it’s not for everyone. Not everyone “has the right stuff”, and some people even spend anywhere from two to eight years in school before they figure out that IT isn’t for them. (This is also true for those other professions I mentioned, as well as many others, like computer science.) You keep working, you keep learning, and then you figure out if this is the path for you or if your best simply isn’t good enough and another path is a better choice.
It sounds like you’re fresh out of college, so you’ve got plenty of time to decide what to do with your life. You were told you weren’t a good fit for the job(s) you applied for, so right now you’ve got a choice:
A.) Blame the hiring manager(s) that turned you down for being unfair not realizing your genius.
B.) Figure out why they didn’t want to hire you, and work on those things.
Maybe you need more experience? Volunteer your time. Maybe you need more certs? Study and earn them. Maybe you need to work on your interviewing skills? Talk to professionals, (like the ones on this board,) and ask them for help. Maybe your communication skills are rusty? Take some writing and speech courses. There are lots of things we all need to improve on, don’t expect to be the exception to the rule.
If all this sounds a little harsh, it’s because it is. IT is a competitive industry, and it doesn’t suffer fools. It’s better to know what you’re getting into and try to live up to that, than it is to get thumped on the head a few times and grow bitter because of it. We’ve all been new to IT, and most of us are here to offer help. . . but only if you can accept that you just might need it.