A lot of IT work seems to be contract now, especially at the desktop level. I’m lucky in that my current contract situation pays extremely well. But most of the time you’re a contractor you need to keep your head down and kick ass. I’ve been in a situation more than once where I pissed off the wrong person and received an after hours call from the staffing agency telling me not to come back the next day. Now I have the benefit of having a fuckton of experience which gives me some leeway but I’m still keeping an eye on what’s out there, just in case they decide they don’t need so many of us anymore. If you can get hired on as a regular employee somewhere then do it. But still watch your back. The IT workplace is very volatile these days and you wind up out of a job due to circumstances beyond your control (as happened to me a few months ago).
It’s true that life as a contract worker is hard since you don’t know if/when you’ll be looking for a new job. On the other hand, if your work ethic is good and you’re good not only at your job, but at finding other things that need to be done, you will get offered full time employment. Think about whether or not you really like the environment before you say yes, though.
All of this advice applies to you since you are out there on the left coast. But here in the barren wastelands of the Midwest it’s not generally like that.
You want to work at Eli Lilly, or Honda or something, sure I bet you get your temp time in, but more likely you’ll work as regular employee at a mid sized company. Maybe it’s part of just being the middle of the tech revolution instead of the edge.
I think more contract jobs will come to other parts of the country, even if the midwest is a bit behind the times.
Then again, I work for a contracting company, and know we do have a number of offices in the midwest, albeit not as many or as densely as the coasts (where sometimes we have 2 or more for a city).
I’ll +1 on that. Coming from the North Coast to the East Coast, I see a big difference in the contracting. I started my contracting back there and yeah, it was a lot less volatile. You still did a contract but it was either a definite end of the contract or you were hired on. Basically you knew how it was going to end. Now out here, it’s contracts for years or sub-contracts of sub-contracts. Very touchy sometimes but it keeps you on your toes.
We have a lot of small and medium sized businesses as opposed to gigantor sized businesses. I think that makes a big difference as well. When the owner knows every employee by name and face I don’t think there will be as many contract employees. That being said my former employer did hire quite a few temps in all departments right after the ACA passed to strike while the iron was hot and run away with a butt ton of money. But they were all well aware that they weren’t permanents, we did hire from them before hiring from outside.
Not getting pulled into office drama/politics is way harder than I would have ever thought…
Only because you’re an extrovert. For us introverts, it’s pretty easy to just concentrate on the work and forget about the people.
Disclaimer - I am in Australia, where social values remain quite British. Things may be different in your part of the world, @Johtoguy .
One thing I learnt is: when you’re lowest-ranked peon in a team, don’t comment on anything that other team members do.
Example: my first real job out of school was in a retail computer shop, as Sales/Tech Support. Essentially that meant that I had to greet and direct walk-in customers, be first to answer the phone, and perform simple upgrades and repairs.
My desk was the front desk, so anyone coming in or out of the shop had to walk past me (there was no back door… strange now that I think about it).
One day while the manager was out, the assistant manager walked past at about 3:30pm, and I said (conversationally) “Where are you off to so early?” She mumbled something and shuffled past, and I thought nothing of it.
Next day the shop manager took me aside and said “I know you had absolutely no ill intent and that you were only making conversation, but you should never ask anyone why they are leaving early. It comes across as nosy and makes people feel that you are watching them too closely.”
Since that moment I have always made a point of just saying “see ya” whenever anyone leaves for the day before their official finish time.
(This can also be applied to listening in to others’ conversations. Sometimes it’s impossible not to overhear, but don’t let on that you’ve heard.)
What in the actual hell? If I saw my manager toddling off two hours early I’d always ask to know precisely where she thought she was going, mainly because we need to be able to refer to her in cases of complaint escalations. It’s actually expected for you to know where management staff are.
Only as far as here, not here, or returning soon. I’d ask if they were out for the day if they were the only management there. I don’t ask people questions I wouldn’t want asked of me.
Edit: that reminds me of something. If you want time off, you don’t have to say why, it may help on short notice to explain an emergency, but if you need the second week of July off, just ask for it off. If you are giving the proper notice, and aren’t asking for a favor, just ask for the time. Unless your boss is actually your friend they don’t need to know.
All this talk of the ‘First IT job’ let’s discuss the 23rd.
Just a heads up that you will burn out. I think everyone burns out at some point no matter what career you’re working in, but I think IT is special. I see us as mechanics that work in a retail store but we never leave. We have very specialized knowledge that helps everyone else go about their day. And most people don’t want to know the dirty stuff we do behind the scenes but everyone assumes the job is easy and they could do it if they wanted to. It’s just typing right? They don’t know the effort we put in to know that a simple registry fix will sort out all your internet woes. That brings us to the second part, the retail store you never leave…
Most people have had to work retail or some sort of service job. If you haven’t, you probably know what the job would be like, people coming in asking for help. Sometimes you get nice people who obviously appreciate what you do and work to make everyone’s job easier. You won’t see too many of those. Most of the time you get the angry secretary trying to figure out how to fax an email or a sneaky co-worker trying to cover some god awful mistake. No one ever calls or emails in a good mood it seems. Even at the higher levels where you tend to not deal with end users and instead you find more people like you, you’ll probably still have to deal with people’s problems. It can be tiring, frustrating, and unlike a retail job, quitting is not always an option. You’ll just end up doing the same thing someplace else (The names have been changed to protect the innocent). The best thing you can do is try and move into some other niche of IT work to try and minimize the little things that will drive you crazy. As an aside, I when people ask me what I do, I tell them I clean toilets. I don’t want to be fixing their phone
That’s what this place is for. Here, Keep (I don’t care how much time has passed or how many boards we go through, he will always be Keeper of Tickets) has created a nice little place for some of us to vent. A lot of us go through similar experiences and gripes and not everyone can relate so this is a great place to to vent. Granted he keeps us in a closet upstairs but it’s warm.
So expect to have those bad days (or weeks or projects). Have an outlet you can vent to. Get a hobby that helps keep your mind off the shit storm you have to walk into tomorrow. ‘Try’ to leave your job at work if you can. And always remember you’re welcome in the closet.
Changing your “major” as it were can help with this. I’m coming up on 30 years in IT now, and while I’ve had some rough patches, I’ve avoided burn out. That’s because I had/took the opportunity to keep shifting my focus. Sometimes the shift has been large (like moving from mainstream IT to security), sometimes really small (moving from supporting Commercial Unix A to A + B).
It served a couple of purposes. It stopped me getting stale, as I kept having new things to learn. It also stopped me becoming the person who’s done the same job for 20 years, and has nowhere to go now. How often you switch, and how big a change you make, depends on where you want to be in the future. I’m not even talking about long term career planning, even just whether you’re enjoying what you’re doing, or hating it.
On other points
From a long term perspective, don’t be afraid to say yes, or no, to requests. You can’t do everything (that’s a good way to end up down with stress, or a heart attack), but you also don’t want to turn away the things that you don’t yet know how to do.
Always though try to be positive, or at least don’t be negative. If you’re the one who’s dragging people down by complaining about things all the time, nobody will want to help you, or promote you. Word also gets around, and you can find it harder to get a job if people know you in a bad way.
Don’t ever be afraid to look around for a new job. Looking doesn’t mean you have to apply, and applying doesn’t mean you have to accept. If you’re not looking though, opportunity will pass you by.
Build your professional network. Knowing tech stuff is good, but it’s the people you know, who think positively of you, who’ll help you get things done. They’ll help you get jobs, or steer you away from the rubbish ones, or “just” help you get things done.
Don’t stop learning. It’s easy to focus on things relevant to today’s day job, but learning new things keeps you fresh, and makes it easier for you to spot (and make use of) new opportunities. I have zero use for Docker or Kubernetes in my day job currently, but I’m learning about them regardless. Once I know more I may discover that i really do have a use for them…
Your health matters. If you (or others around you) start seeing signs of stress, or burn out, do something about it. Whether that’s slowing down a little, or getting the heck out, it’s up to you to ensure you don’t end up physically or mentally broken because of work.
There’s a lot of great advice in this thread and most of it can be applied to any career. I’m not in IT, but I’m one of those types of end user that are appreciative of the often thankless jobs they have.
I cannot stress this enough.
Over the last 30 years I have seen many colleagues "Rest on their laurels"
When technology changes, and it ALWAYS does, they’re left behind.
Whether it’s maintaining certifications or setting up a sandbox to “play” with new O/S’s you should always try to stay ahead of the curve. Simple things like reading techie forums can help with cutting edge technology. At one time I subscribed to several physical magazines (LAN Times, Byte,Computer Currents etc…) but most have stopped publishing. Obviously there are a vast amount of websites that you’ll want to read on a regular basis. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my IT career, it’s that there is always more to be learned about any subject. That is the main reason I’ve stayed in IT for so long.
It’s never boring as it is always changing!
Good luck in your IT career!
I wouldn’t turn down moving up from never to rarely getting massages from supermodels.
I would assume super models are actually pretty shitty at massages. Or at least no better than the average person, it’s just not in their skill set for the position. Most of them are too scrawny to get decent pressure going. I’m sure they’d look great doing it, but I doubt if it would be better than Helga Olafsdottir’s massage.
Maybe they just need more practice
When I think supermodel, Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford come to mind. Built, not scrawny.
Plus, there are different types of massages.
They aren’t exactly the latest, ahem… models any more.