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Dos & don'ts for making it in IT

Do you have what it takes to make it in IT? Do you know how to choose the right IT employees? Microsoft trainer Doug Paddock's guidelines can help IT wannabes know themselves and provide good questions for employers to ask prospective employees.

As Microsoft Certified Trainer, I've seen many people fail in their quest to become IT professionals. When I give the standard orientation to new computer networking students I always tell them: "I'll see 50% of you in a year." The next thing I tell them is that I've heard every excuse for failing in the book. I've heard about mean instructors, hard tests, tuition's costs, unsettled love lives, and life's basic unfairness. These aren't the real reasons people fail to make the grade in IT.

Gleaned from my years of experience, I've put together this list the dos and don'ts for choosing and preparing for a career in IT.

Don't make yourself finish computer training if you find that you flat-out don't like working in IT. You won't succeed if you don't like what you're doing.

Don't enter the IT field just because you've heard that it's lucrative. If you don't like working with computers, you will lose interest and fail.

Do check out all the divergent opportunities in IT. Don't just quit because you don't want to manage a corporate data center. Look into robotics, graphic design, animation and the many other career paths in IT.

Don't enter IT if you don't want to work hard. Hard work is a way of life in IT. Then again, you're not digging ditches.


enter IT if you don't like school If you are going to succeed in this field, you're going to be studying the rest of your life. You might as well develop good study habits now.

Do learn right away how to network. From the day you start IT training to the day you retire from your IT management job, you're going to get the best tips and learn the most important things from your peers, not from a textbook. Talk to your peers. I know this isn't easy sometimes, but you'll be surprised at how willing IT pros are to share their "trade secrets." Most of the time, all you have to do is ask.

Do go over, go under, go around, but never give up. In all likelihood, there's a career path in IT that has your name on it. Have faith in yourself, and you'll get there eventually.

About the author: Doug Paddock is a SearchWindowsManageability Ask the Expert advisor and an MCSE, MCT, MCSA, A+, N+ qualified teacher at Louisville Technical Institute in Louisville, Kentucky.


Check out Doug Paddock's Webcast on "IT Career Paths" at 1 pm EDT on Aug. 26, 2002, or read a transcript of the Webcast at any time.

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It's not quite clear what kind of IT occupation is the example. Some dos/don'ts might be useful, some irrelevant, some detrimental in application to specific jobs. This applies both horizontally and vertically.