Yesterday was Father's Day, so I found myself wondering what I'd say to my son if he asked me whether he should go into IT.
Now, obviously, I'm going to be supportive about almost any legal activity he really wants to pursue. But say he was in college, on the fence, and asking my advice (not necessarily a realistic assumption). What would I reply?
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Before I narrowed things down -- like, what part of IT are you talking about? -- I'd have to ask him if he really loved tech. Because if you don't, you'll never have the stamina to pull long hours to wrestle problems to the ground. You need that bulldog grip for just about every area of IT.
If he wanted to be a developer, I'd encourage him. At its best it's highly creative work, and with widespread adoption of agile development, you interact a lot with the business side, which can be good for job security. Developers will be the big winners in the cloud era: When dev and test infrastructure can be provisioned in a flash, there will be more and better apps, which will in turn increase demand.
Funny, isn't it? A few years ago pundits warned that programming was headed offshore, never to return. That happened in some areas, but not creative app dev that requires up-close-and-personal understanding of business requirements.
And if he wanted to be, say, a security professional? Well, the need will certainly never go away, and battling relentless bad guys is a challenge he would probably enjoy. You just have to prepare yourself for a career imagining everything that can go wrong, laying down rules that people forget to follow, and staying one step ahead of cyber criminals' cleverest ideas. You have to be patient and tough-minded, and must avoid letting your professional paranoia color the rest of your life.
What if he simply asked me point-blank what area to focus on? Then I'd have to say big data. It's the one truly new area -- at least, the ability to dump terabytes into a Hadoop hopper and look for patterns is new. And it applies to an almost unlimited range of areas, from network optimization to health care to financial services to just about every scientific discipline that involves gobs of data. If you have endless curiosity, it's a good place to be.