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Did You Choose Your Profession? Or Did It Choose You?

April 17, 2018

When my daughter was 12 years old, she told me that she was going to join the army and be a veterinarian. She’s now 23, in her final two years of grad school and a 1st LT in the US Army Reserves.

When I was twelve I think I wanted to be a forest ranger, or maybe an astronaut.

I didn’t pick IT as a profession when I went to college. I was studying to be an engineer. But, I ran up against Linear Algebra and despite my best effort (the second time, not the first) I just didn’t have the math chops for it.

Even then, I didn’t really choose IT, so much as I looked at what classes I had completed and picked IT as the most likely to fit my current transcript.

I actually left school to join IT. I was recently married and had a new baby. I needed more than minimum wage on campus jobs. A little computer company named WordPerfect was hiring and that’s how I decided to go into Information Technology.

Of course, at the time, it might have simply been a one time thing, but I found I had an affinity for it. I enjoyed it. It let me interact with people, but also play with computers. Later, I added trainer and program manager to my resume.

WordPerfect eventually started to fail. I managed to jump ship at just the right time to land a gig at a slightly bigger company called Microsoft. When I joined in 1993, it was the biggest, baddest computer company in the world.

After that, my path was pretty well set. After five years at WordPerfect and nearly 10 years at Microsoft, changing careers would have been very difficult. I would have had to start over, experience-wise, in a new industry.

And that would have been difficult at that point. I had ten kids by the time I left The Evil Empire. I needed a senior level salary to support them. And, like I said, IT suited me.

Today, I’m in a role that takes great advantage of the experience of a 30 year career in IT. I get to work with people, sometimes feeling like I spent most of my day on the phone.

I also get to work with computers. I’m the “IT guy” on a senior staff of account managers. They expect me to “figure out the IT side of it.” And I do. That lets me mingle with the engineers. Occasionally, I get to talk to programmers, but most of what I do is pure system admin level, and network engineering level work.

In addition, I get to be involved in really fun and exciting projects. I typically have 10 or more active projects in various stages of development.

Mostly my job makes me feel important. If I do it well, I can immediately see the results. When I do it poorly, the results are equally obvious. Fortunately, I do it well much more often than I do it poorly.

But, despite loving my job, I realize I didn’t really pick IT. If anything, it picked me. It was a convenient job when I needed one. I then was one of 500 people hired in 1993 by the world’s most prestigious software company. And from there, I just sort of went with what I know.

I look at my daughter and realize that she had her life figured out at a much younger age than I ever did. And there are people who know exactly what they are going to do from the time they are young. I’m not one of those people. I’m impressed that my daughter is. That she knew precisely what she wanted to do with her life and she told me so at a young age.

Of course, she also told me she was going to marry someone named George, so she didn’t get everything right.

Did you pick your profession? Or did it pick you?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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