Thompson knows how common his story is, to go from exciting, lucrative work to questioning if he has a future in IT. "I was no different than anyone else," he says. "I sat on a rock watching the sun go down and asked, 'Now what?'"
Thompson's strategy has been to hitch his future to applying IT to one vertical industry, in his case, the construction industry. It happened, like so many career turns, by accident. While watching his son play baseball, he told an acquaintance he was looking for work. The guy mentioned he was going to Florida for a pilot project testing synthetic concrete to build homes.
Thompson spent a month fixing printers, LANs, and PCs while learning everything he could about how the industry uses--and underutilizes--technology. He immersed himself in learning, visiting projects in California, Florida, Texas, and Mexico. That helped Thompson convince a developer and builder, CasaMex S.A., to hire him as a consultant setting up IT infrastructure for the construction of a planned 1,400-acre waterfront development in Mexico.
Thompson says salary is "still a struggle." He knows that a lot of self-taught technologists like him have left the field. But he hopes that taking an industry-centric approach will open new avenues. "You have to stay current," Thompson says. "Even if the job dries up, even if the market dries up."
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