Tripple had no idea what he would do next, so he went to register at a local community college. The only course that had a slot left open was EMT Basic. He registered for the heck of it, but he wasn't in the class very long before he realized that working as a firefighter was what he was always meant to do.
"I needed a field where not everything is known and predictable." Not everyone would agree with that characterization of IT, but Tripple clearly wanted more excitement than, say, a network outage might provide. When he told his wife he wanted to be a firefighter -- a favorite career choice of 5-year-olds -- she was cheerfully supportive.
Tripple says he loves his new calling and advises those who want to get out of IT to pick something totally different, mainly because "no matter what else you do, they will find out if you know something about IT and ask for your help." Tripple should know: At the Des Moines Fire Department, when he's not putting our fires or rescuing people, he handles several of the department's IT tasks.
Thomas Wojcik, Jr., vice president for strategic accounts, Fidelitone Logistics
Thomas Wojcik, Jr. spent 17 years as a programmer for Sears, Xerox, Ryder, and ConAgrafoods. By and large, he liked working for those companies, but he wanted to move out of IT and on to the business side. Today, Wojcik is the vice president for strategic accounts at Fidelitone Logistics. His responsibilities are business development and strategic account management.
Wojcik says he learned a long time ago that IT doesn't exist unless there's a business problem to solve. "I always had that thought in mind and used it to drive my development."
That perspective has helped Wojcik become a bridge between the propeller heads and business users -- vice presidents of distribution, for example, who don't care about RFID. They just know they need to ship out 20,000 orders.
"It's guys like me in the middle who can translate what the IT guys are saying and not get shined, and explain to the business guys the problems in technology to get something designed, tested, trained, and implemented," he says. "Many business users don't really understand why you have to measure twice and cut once."
If you're looking to change careers, says Wojcik, there are many companies like Fidelitone that recognize the need to solve customer problems with people, process, and technology. If you have the communications skills and understand business problems, there are opportunities out there.
"Fidelitone could get a smooth-talker sales guy, but that is not what we want," says Wojcik. "We are looking for people who can listen to our customers' problems, translate it to a need, and apply a need to a process and technology."
For IT people looking to transition to the business side, Wojcik's best advice is to talk with customers and learn what they do -- either in a sales position or as a business analyst. "That leap may cost you a level on an org chart or dollars and cents," he admits. "But I found that applying the IT knowledge I had and how that solves business processes is very valuable. And I don't know where I would be today if I stayed on an IS path."