Atoms, then Bits

March 7, 2017

A word to prospective employees: If you fancy a career in technology, you’re probably going to start off in tech support, maybe the Help Desk.  You may find yourself better able to do the job if you’re a tinkerer, or have some sort of hobby that involves doing things with your hands.  Let me explain…

I’ve managed many IT support teams, both directly and indirectly, and the ones who seem

to get ahead faster, have the best customer service rankings, are those who know how to fix things in the physical world.  If you can replace a garbage disposal.  If you know how to rewire a lamp or replace a light switch.  If you’re a weekend electrician, do you own car repair, or can do drywall repair, you can do IT support.  Because in your head, you know how to proceed from where you are to where you want to be.  You BUILD AN ALGORITHM, whether just in your head or writing down the steps necessary in the order to completion.

If that algorithm involves multiple people and resources and scheduling, you’ve just taken your first steps towards Project Management.

Student workers at the University of Tulsa, Centralia College, and the University of Washington, Bothell all would come work for me, and the ones who knew how to do something with their hands and minds were the ones who I knew would advance over the years.  And if they combined those talents with a sense of customer service/charisma/personality, there was no end to their accomplishment.

Learn how to manipulate atoms, then transfer that skill to working with bits and bytes.

It didn’t matter whether they gravitated toward web design, networking, or supporting the common desktop applications.

As Albert Einstein stated, his time spent working the Swiss Patent Office “stimulated me to see the physical ramifications of theoretical concepts.”

At the Tulsa Area United Way, both I and my associate John Cory are more “salesy” than your average technologist.  Our histories of running our own businesses have meant that operations, marketing, and prospecting have made us atypical in some ways, but perfect for doing more than just tech.  And yes: we both know plumbing, electrical, and car repair…

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