Taste of Informatics

Information Technology as a career

April 19, 2021 Informatics+, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University Season 1 Episode 2
Taste of Informatics
Information Technology as a career
Show Notes Transcript

What's needed to launch a successful career in IT? Emily Taylor chats with host Mike Nitardy, providing insight into information technology as a career field. Emily is a lecturer at Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics.

Brian Jaynes:

Greetings, Northern Kentucky University's College of informatics, and it's outreach arm Informatics+ would like to welcome you to the Taste of Informatics podcast series.

Mike Nitardy:

Welcome to the informatics cafe. My name is Mike Nitardy, and I will be your host. Today's special is on information technology. Thank you for joining us. With us in the cafe today to discuss Information Technology is Emily Taylor. She's a lecturer at the College of informatics. Emily, thank you so much for joining us today.

Emily Taylor:

Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Mike Nitardy:

Well, we really do appreciate your making the time to join us in the in the cafe. And I guess the best place to start off is just to ask you straight forwardly what is information technology.

Emily Taylor:

So I'll start with a just classic textbook definition of information technology. Information Technology, simply put is about the study of computer based information systems. If we drill a little bit deeper, though, it's actually about using technology to solve business problems. It's about managing data. So if you think about the data that companies work with, information technology helps to support the storage, the retrieval, the transmission, and even the manipulation of this data. And hopefully, securely, right, that's a huge aspect of information technology. And really, it's just about supporting the users supporting the operations, keeping the businesses running and achieving their objectives. So Information Technology, it really covers a wide variety of areas.

Mike Nitardy:

Definitely, definitely, it does sound like a very broad area. And I guess, trying to nail it down just a little bit more, what should our guests know about information technology?

Emily Taylor:

Absolutely. So as you mentioned Information Technology is a bit of a broad area. So I think what guests should know about it is it's a very customized field in terms of pursuing a career, pursuing that education. So Information Technology, it covers several different pillars of IT, so to speak. And those pillars are things like database, and web systems, cyber security, networking. So we have these different sub areas of IT, that you can focus on. Now, of course, you do have your IT professionals who are kind of that jack-of-all-trades individual, so to speak. So there's really quite a number of different directions that you can go with IT. And the nice thing, even if that sounds overwhelming, it's actually gives you a lot of options. And a lot of your education path will early on give you high level exposure to all of those different pillars, and that's a fantastic way to pay attention to what you really enjoy. And then you can really hone in on that specific subset of IT that you're interested in.

Mike Nitardy:

Very good, very good. And then, and you kind of mentioned this at the beginning, when we were talking about, you know, managing, storing manipulating data, but why is information technology so cool, and how does it help the world?

Emily Taylor:

Yeah, I think it ties into a lot of what I've talked about already, that we can dig in even deeper to that. So personally, to me I think it's so cool is again, just the fact that there's so many different areas that you can pursue, and you're not just limited to one area. So even if you pursue let's say, a database-focused education, just having that on the job experience means you can really expand your horizons and you can move throughout those different pillars throughout your career. There's so much room for growth when you think about it from a career perspective. When you think about information technology beyond just your education in your career, and you think about it in real world terms. It's so cool because it it just keeps everything moving information. technology's the backbone of our businesses. And I think that's become even more obvious over this past year with everybody struggling through this pandemic. Information Technology has supported all of these lifestyle changes. Being able to do so much more remotely now from careers to a doctor's appointment, to attending classes. Information technology, is supporting all of this. It's supporting all of those Amazon Prime purchases we've been making multiple times a week throughout the pandemic, right? It really just keeps his wheels turning.

Mike Nitardy:

Yes, yes. Now, do you need a technology background to pursue an education and information technology?

Emily Taylor:

Absolutely not. And what's interesting about that question, it's something I encounter quite a bit. As a lecturer, I teach an introductory course, for the major, that's one of the courses I teach. And so many students come into this major concern, because they're brand new to IT. And you do have a lot of students out there, they've been doing this as a hobby for years, which is an excellent way to build experience. But these incoming students, they compare themselves to that and feel like, 'well, I have to basically already have a resume to start an education'. And that's absolutely not the case. I always tell the students, you're here at college to learn something new. And that's true for any major. And I think what students don't anticipate, and this includes the students coming in with a more solid tech background is that success in IT is more than just the technical skills, it expands beyond that, to include soft skills from communication, to being able to work effectively within teams. You know, in fact, I've had companies tell me that, you know, if they're down to the final two candidates for a position, and they have one candidate who's maybe a little bit stronger, technically, but the other candidate has stronger soft skills. In many cases, they're more likely to consider that person with the stronger soft skills, because the tech skills, you know, realistically, you know, tech skills are easier to teach them the soft skills. And the other thing to keep in mind too with IT, you're going to be a lifelong learner, that field is always changing. So you will just continually learn. So no, long story short, absolutely not. That's what your education is for. And don't forget about the soft skills, they will serve you well.

Mike Nitardy:

Wow. That is great advice. Thank you very much. But what types of jobs are available in information technology?

Emily Taylor:

So many options are available. And I think that ties back to those different pillars of information technology that I was talking about, you could find a network-focused job, and maybe you would be a network analyst, and network architect and network administrator. If you go into databases, maybe you would be a database specialist, you would be a database developer. If you are just getting started. And you don't have a lot of background behind you, maybe you would start off in some type of a computer support specialist position, like in a help desk type situation. There's also a lot of cybersecurity jobs out there, you could be a cybersecurity analyst. And even beyond the strictly technical world, you also have a lot of it oriented roles that crossover with the business side of things. So you have IT project manager, you could be a business analyst. There's just so many options. And even within one career, there's a lot of upward growth within that pillar. And like I said earlier, there's also a lot of options to move beyond that as well and expand his horizons. So really, there's so many options, it just really depends on what you want your focus to be.

Mike Nitardy:

Now, let me ask you a question about that. If you start with a focus in one area and start going down one road, is there enough flexibility maybe to switch into another road? Are you pigeonholed in one area of your career?

Emily Taylor:

No. And that's the nice thing about information technology is that you don't get pigeonholed. Usually within companies, there are going to be opportunities. If there's something you're interested in learning, they'll try to start assigning you to projects. So I think a good example my husband, actually, his formal education was in economics. And he ended up with a job outside once he finished his master's degree, where he was crunching numbers for a company but then that eventually led into a little bit of IT work and it just built from there. And now he's a senior database developer for a company. And the nice thing is he's interested in programming as well and his company's allowing him the opportunity to start taking on some .net programming projects. So he's not the lead on his projects, but he is getting his feet wet so he can learn more. So, again, it's going to depend on the company, some companies may want you more focused strictly on that role. But so many organizations are going to be open to learning and applying that knowledge. And, you know, I've spoken to a lot of individuals in IT, you know, some pretty high on the, in the ladder, so to speak, and they've talked about that evolution, and they've been in so many different areas of IT over the years. So how you want that growth to happen is really largely up to you. There's a lot of flexibility there.

Mike Nitardy:

Wow, that is good to know. And I know that our guests here at the informatics cafe will be very pleased to hear that as well. Well, Emily, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be with us here today and for telling us about information technology. Thank you so much. Have a great day.