Being an IT professional is more than just learning a programming language and getting a job. A complete IT professional has many traits – and they use these traits to stand out from the crowd and become a better employee – and ultimately make more money!
By working in the IT industry, you should already have some level of technical skills. These skills could be software developing (e.g. writing applications in .Net or Java), database development (SQL and its variations), networking and support, or other similar areas. These will have been developed from either a university qualification, or on-the-job experience – in most cases, both. To become an IT professional and ensure that these skills are at a high level:
Practice them regularly
This will most likely happen during your job. Additionally, you could enhance them outside of work or study by practicing them at home or other areas. A side project can help with this – website development, constructing a home network, or similar projects.
Keep up to date
The IT industry is constantly changing, so the more up-to-date you are with your skills, the more effective you’ll be with them. Know when new releases or versions of your specific technology is released. Know the developments of these companies and what’s being planned for the future. Get some practice with the new features.
Looking up features or things that you don’t know how to do is a great way to fill any gaps you have in your knowledge in the area. If you’re not sure how to do something, don’t be afraid to ask someone, or Google for information.
A big part on how to become an IT professional is to have good people skills. Sure, talking to people can be simple to do, but to be better at your job and stand out from the crowd, you need to build on these skills and get better at them. This involves:
Asking the right questions
This comes with practice and experience, but to know the answer to something you need to learn how to ask the right questions. Practice this on the job by asking questions of people.
Knowing how to talk to different audiences
Different groups of people and different types of workers have different levels of understanding of the IT field. One of the best ways to be seen as a good communicator is to know how to adjust your language and method when talking to different people. Generally, managers don’t need to know about technical details of your work. Business users usually prefer a real-world explanation instead of an overly technical explanation. Database administrators or other technical people like details relating to their field or area of expertise. This comes with practice, but it’s something to realise and start developing.
Work and Time Management
As you spend time in your IT career, you’ll find that you have a lot of work to do, and what seems like no time to do it in. The best way to avoid this feeling of overwhelm is to manage your work and time well.
New employees in the IT industry have a tendency to overestimate the amount of work they can handle, and underestimate the time it takes them to do it. I know – I was there once, and it was something I realised I was doing. An article I wrote on the number one tip for working in information technology goes into this point in further detail.
A good tip on how to become an IT professional is to learn to manage your work and time. A great way of managing your work and time is to make lists of everything you need to do. If you know what you need to do, and have it written down, you can work out what your priorities are and how long it can take you to get things done.
This will also need to be communicated to your boss or manager. If they know what you’re doing, they can be more aware when they give you work to do.
A great IT employee (which is you, or will be you soon!) is someone who knows how to be professional. Essentially, being professional is doing a job well and acting in a mature and considerate way.
This point involves treating others with respect, acting professionally, and speaking well. If you’re acting like a professional in the workplace, then others will recognise this – and you’ll stand out from the crowd of other IT employees! And you know what that means – better chance of promotion, more money, and more opportunity!