Next-Gen IT Workforce: One Person's Struggle To Crack Into IT - InformationWeek
Business & Finance
09:25 AM

Next-Gen IT Workforce: One Person's Struggle To Crack Into IT

There's a premium on formal IT education and training. Here's one person's frustration.

Whenever we write about IT careers, we hear from people disillusioned with the profession. Those heading into a tech career should do so with their eyes wide open: It's fascinating because it's always changing, but it means a lifetime of learning. Here's one person's story of frustration:

I started out wanting to work with electronics back when I was about 12. I got my first computer (a Commodore 64), I played games on it for a couple of weeks, then I found the books on it and started to learn about programming. It helped that after six weeks of playing around with sample code, my school changed me into a computer class. During the next 10 years, however, I learned little to nothing new about computers as my family was not rich, and I didn't get any encouragement. I dropped out of high school and got my GED. I started saving some cash for a college education, but I settled for an electronics course at a local voc-tech school. This was a good thing as I still love electronics, but it's not an electronics degree. The few companies hiring wanted a degree.

So I ended up working for myself, doing small contract jobs. I got a break and went to work as a tech support rep for a big computer company. I loved the job but overheard one day that there were no promotions unless you had a degree. I formulated a plan to stop working for two years and head back to college, at 28 years old, with a federal loan and Pell grant. But near the end of the first year, I ended up in the hospital with no insurance, which ate up my savings, and I missed two weeks of class and a couple of finals. I needed those credits to keep the grants and loans, and I ended up losing my enrollment.

So I'm now working for a hospital installing antivirus software on new computers and doing an occasional OS reinstall, making close to $10 an hour after 10 years of working with computers. I'm 32, have no savings, with an old car that keeps breaking, and I'm still renting a trailer. The company will reimburse tuition, but the classes I need are during the day, and I don't have the money to pay for them up front.

So to sum up, I'd say the reason for the tech workforce lag is that, with so much new coming out so often, why would you want to learn something that's obsolete at graduation? It would be nice to know that there are companies willing to hire people and train them like they used to. I guarantee if a company would send me to college and let me work for them, too, I'd be more than willing to work my heart out and stick with that company. But I fear I will never see that day.

Return to main story, In Depth: How Businesses Can Attract The Next-Generation Of IT Workers

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll