Tuesday, February 16, 2016

IT Management Career Guidance

Last Friday, before the long weekend, I went over to career day at Inver Grove Hills to present to eighth graders.  I still can't tell whether they were forced to sign up, could volunteer to avoid other classes, or what the deal was.  They didn't seem particularly excited to be there.  I joked with one of the girls as one of the three rounds was getting underway that perhaps I should have used "Highly Salaried IT Manager" as my career title just to get more people to listen to me.  She gave me the obligatory he's-old-I-should-laugh-to-humor-him-so-he-doesn't-do-something-crazier laugh.

It was three twenty minute sessions and I ad hoced it rather than coming with something prepared.  I think I suffered in comparison to uniformed police, dog handlers, and EMTs.  I'm not sure how I fared compared to the therapist.  And I dressed down in jeans, a corporate t-shirt, and corporate hoodie, so hopefully I looked more relaxed than the guy in the suit and tie and dress shoes.

I talked about not starting in tech, but ending up there.  How career decisions can change but you can leverage what you'd already been learning if you're careful.  What a typical day on an agile team looks like (oh yeah...dream on).  How self-direction and continuous learning play a big part (sounding better and better, isn't it eighth graders?).  And then I talked about how my job has changed several times without much in the way of additional interviewing (more interesting).  That I've been abroad as part of my job (even more interesting).  And then my salary.  Which perked a few of them right up.  I babbled about tech a lot and talked about programming speakers (the mechanical kind) and the internet of things, content, code security and SOC 2 certifications (it always sounds more glamorous in my head than coming off the tongue), and working with different roles locally and internationally.  And, of course, people management.  The sub gave me some helpful advice after the first round and said, "They might not even know what CompSci means."  It was a good point given how much it annoys me when people assume I know their compressed words and acronyms.

My daughter's friends were in the library when I started and were jealous of my free donut and coffee.  Those might be the two people most inspired by my visit because it came with free food.  I think next time I need a fancier presentation with interactive web apps and code visualizations.  Think shinier.  Because obviously every day as an IT manager is shiny and I should trick them into an appropriate career choice.

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