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I get a number of emails each week (especially from students) asking what the best way is to get into IT. There is rarely a simple answer to this (everyone is different, and everyone’s situation is different) but there is one thing I do come back to often as a sure-fire way to create the best opportunity to enter an IT career with.
It is this: Passion.
Students and young people are always passionate about something. Your passion is your total dedication to a chosen subject or goal. Your passion creates energy and motivation beyond anything a salary or manager can do.
Do you have a passion, and what is it?
Here’s my story. I have a passion for creativity and problem-solving. I just love a challenge and a complex problem to overcome. Whether it’s a business problem, a puzzle, or a quiz, I love it. This is why I work in innovation now, and also how I entered the IT profession as I demonstrated my aptitude as a problem solver when I joined Microsoft as a support technician. I talked about the problems I’d solved in the past (such as my final year project, where I wrote a natural language interpreter for a computer language), and my passion shone through. It wasn’t really my aptitude that got me the job; it was my passion for problem-solving.
When you talk about your passion, your whole body language changes, your eyes light up and you talk with a smile. This is hard to resist. People respond to passionate people.
What if your passion is gardening, or science fiction, or playing games on the PS3? What good are these in getting an IT job? Well, maybe more than you think.
Truly passionate people tend to show their enjoyment in their chosen interest by joining clubs and associations, writing papers, newspaper or magazine articles, participating/chairing societies or bodies, or connecting with other passionate people. What happens is that you become an authority in the subject, and have influence in the subject. Just because your passion isn’t IT related, it doesn’t mean you’re not developing business muscles and practising corporate yoga. And there is often some angle to find that demonstrates your commercial acumen.
Who will be employed first: a president of a regional camera club who can demonstrate leadership, commercial practise (such as managing budgets and committee membership), or a simple amateur photographer who has a mild interest in the subject?
The trick is to understand what you do when you pursue your passion that will have benefits in your IT job application and in performing your IT job.
Get this – everybody has a passion of some sorts. The question is, can you spot what it is and understand the commercial value of it in an organization?
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