Ask the Expert

Pinpointing an IT field to meet your skills

I'm currently trying to decide which specific area of IT I want to devote myself to. I'm currently in the networking area but have not found the work to be too compatible. What resources can I use to pinpoint the area that would be most compatible with my experience and skills? I would really like to be connected with a mentor as well. Where can I find mentors who are already in the IT field?

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If you're not happy in your current position, you might try speaking with senior-level colleagues in other areas of your IT department. Talk to them about aspects of their jobs that they find rewarding. Ask how they got started, and why they ended up where they are now. Consider how their experiences mirror yours. This should offer you some added insight into what's important to your career. In addition, you might find a potential mentor in one of your colleagues.

Another valuable resource is a user group or industry organization such as the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) or the Association of Internet Professionals (AIP). In addition to great networking venues, these groups' meetings can provide you access to career advice, job opportunities and potential mentors. You might also consider project work through a placement firm specializing in IT professinals. You're able to work on assignments in different environments and with a variety of technologies until you find a specialty that suits your needs.

This was first published in April 2001

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