Thursday, June 28, 2012

Moving Along

It is now official. I am leaving my current employer for a new gig in the private sector. I've been in the public sector for seven years now and its been a tremendous experience. It's time to get back to the world where I can accept a cup of coffee from a vendor. I'm not going that far from government; My new employer is in banking. I suspect the view from the IT dungeon will be similar in many ways.

Now, here comes my sales pitch.

Dear IT workers of the US: Please do a stint in public sector at some point in your career!! Look specifically for jobs in local government!

If you want to have the most sizable impact possible on an industry and have the opportunity to start from scratch in an underdeveloped field you have an amazing chance in local government. There are counties and cities nation-wide that are so far behind the rest of the world that words like "typewriter", "minicomputer", "dial-up concentrator" are still used in the present tense. These are places with so much IT low-hanging fruit that you just cannot imagine.

The difference IT can make in local government is profound. I've seen it and, with all humility, have had the chance to participate in making that difference I think. This is an industry just begging for a talent infusion. As the IT world continues to forge ahead there is a skills gap growing in local government where the right people would make a huge difference.

The problem with local gov't is that the pay isn't so great and locations often leave something to be desired (in some peoples' opinion). On the other hand, benefits are often decent/good, time off can be generous, and the gratitude is deep.

You will meet people incredibly dedicated to their job and the people they serve. There will be a surprising mix of problems for IT solve from mundane and easy to insanely difficult. If you are a driven individual with some motivation you will never be bored. Frustrated at times, yes. Bored? Very rarely.

Look at it this way: Local gov't is a chance to serve your country in a way. The sacrifice is a lower paycheck. The pay back is getting the chance to serve the people in your community and make a difference at a level of government where the rubber really meets the road.

You will never regret the difference you'll have made. I know I won't!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vacation?

I listen to so many complaints that people need to take a break from their electronics. That statement will probably never cease to baffle me. If I were paying a lot of money for my family to experience something I might think differently.

Myself? I want a vacation from job and people to get a chance to use my electronics for what I want. Not for doing my job, not for fixing someone else's problem, not even for communications (maybe). I want a chance to play a video game. Do some reading. Build or create something.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The IT Legacy

Those of you who only know me online probably don't know that I grew up on a farm. It was a small family affair raising primarily corn and soybeans. About a week ago was the end of an era as all the equipment was sold on auction. It's very emotional to watch so many things being sold that have so many memories attached.

I think it was only natural to find myself thinking about legacy and how the time we spend working leaves a lasting impact. Watching the family business being liquidated has that effect.
We IT and technology types work in a very short-lived universe. I've been doing this as a career for eleven years myself. I can almost guarantee that none of the systems I installed at the beginning of my career are still in use. How about you? What kind of longevity has the work you've done in your career had?

A farm has a very obvious legacy. There's many assets: equipment, a building site, real estate. There's also the impact on the people who've grown up and worked there. Work ethic, a wider perspective about our food, deep appreciation for the cycle of life just to name a few.

So what is the IT legacy? When it comes down to the end of it all, what can an IT worker say she/he has accomplished and has a lasting impact? When your grandkids ask you what have you done what will you be able to point out?

Sure, we have an impact on the business, the processes, the systems. However, the lasting impact is on the people we and our technology serve. We tend to interact with people most often at the worst part of their day, especially if you are in any sort of tech support. The people we help are unhappy, often angry, frustrated, even scared. At that point we have the chance to touch a person's life, to improve it. There is the possibility to care for and nurture the people around us through our support of technology.

I'll be telling my grandkids about the crazy things people needed help with. How to deal with and help people when they're bent out of shape and scared for their jobs. Most importantly that confidence, kindness, and understanding in difficult situations will leave a deep impact on people for the better.

Technology for its own sake is pretty pointless. Technology for improving our lives and the lives around us, now that is where the good stuff starts to happen!