How To Refresh A Stale IT Career - InformationWeek

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8/6/2015
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David Wagner
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How To Refresh A Stale IT Career

In a recent survey, nearly three quarters of thirtysomethings said they want to scrap their current career. There are obstacles to making such a big move. Before you give it all up and become a lumberjack, consider these options for refreshing your IT career without completely walking away.
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(Image: Flazingo Photos via Flickr)

(Image: Flazingo Photos via Flickr)

Nearly three quarters of US professionals in their 30s want a new career, according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix. We're not talking about new job but an entirely new career, according to the survey, which had 1,044 respondents aged 18 or older who are currently employed in the US.

Granted, University of Phoenix wants to know this, since it provides education mostly to adults, and adults interested in a career change will often need a new degree. Still, the numbers are pretty eye opening. What does it mean when three quarters of respondents in their 30s -- an age group that spans Generation X and Millennials -- think they're in the wrong career?

And it's not an issue limited to thirtysomethings. More than half (59%) of respondents in all age groups said they'd like an entirely new career.

Clearly, there is some "grass is always greener" stuff going on here. Don't we all look at other departments and think they have it easier than us? InformationWeek readers know the problems facing  IT, but do you know what your marketing and sales folks go through every day? From the outside, it probably looks like a breeze.

[ Finding the right job involves more than playing with keywords. Read 10 IT Job Search Habits To Nail A New Gig. ]

There's more to it than that. There's a general problem with the way we're told how to pick what we want to be "when we grow up." Only 38% of respondents in all age groups said they got into their current jobs because they were interested in the field.

Growing up, we're often slotted into education tracks long before we see what jobs in those fields are like in the real world. We take a test and some guidance counselor tells us in 8th grade that we should "do something with computers." Next thing we know, we're a computer science major, without really knowing the various options available in IT. Do you want to be a software developer, network engineer, help desk worker, or CIO? "Something with computers" sounded lucrative and fun when we were in school. Upon graduation, we probably took the first "something with computers" job we could find. Now we're stuck.

If you decide you should have been a lumberjack instead of an IT professional, there's not much we can do to help you. Rather, with a look at the career-changing research in the Harris Poll, plus insight from additional reports, we can help you find a new career within IT that might make you happier than your current track. There are ways to change things enough to energize yourself without abandoning all your previous hard work and qualifications. Check out the trends, then stick around for ideas on how you can apply your existing skills in fresh ways.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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