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Choosing the Area of IT That's Right for You

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Computer Programming

Programs make the technical world go round. We use computer programs every day. They are the widely used word processors, operating systems, games, and Web pages that make our computers functional and productive.

Naturally, someone has to write these programs, and it is the job of the computer programmer. Programmers are generally a determined bunch of people, dedicated to keeping us up-to-date in the ever-changing world of IT. It is up to the programmers to design, test, and fix all programs we use, which is no small task given the speed at which the masses demand more functionality from their computer systems.

As a profession, becoming a programmer is a solid choice. The demand for programmers is predicted to rise, a trend that is likely to continue as long as the industry-wide shortage of programmers persists. This shortage of skilled and experienced personnel has put many companies and businesses in the unenviable position of having to aggressively recruit programmers, which in turn has led to ever more creative and lucrative benefit packages, luxury work conditions, and higher salaries.



Personality

Checkpoint Programmers must be self-motivated and ready to work long hours to meet deadlines. When writing code, programmers are often required to work independently of others. Conversely, when a program is in the development stage, there is often a great deal of collaboration on the project. Programmers who do not function well in a cooperative environment will need to develop the skills to do so.

Stress Factors

Okay, so working independently is no problem, and you function well with team collaboration.You need to consider other factors before entering a career in programming. If you want to work in a stress-free environment, you are not going to find it in programming. As we already know, bananas have a longer shelf life than computer programs, and software is constantly in a state of change. It is up to the programmers of the world to keep these programs coming and coming fast. The release dates and deadlines for software applications, software upgrades, and patches are often unforgiving.To miss one deadline is to potentially give the edge to the competition and disappoint clients.

Programmers are hired on the assumption that they are able to write, design, and debug programs in their chosen language in a timely fashion. This expectation means that the responsibility is squarely on the shoulders of the programmers to deliver quality and on time. Although it means potentially working long hours, good programmers meet their deadlines, and those who don't will not be programmers for very long.

Personality Checkpoint: When deadlines are approaching, programmers may find themselves working in a stressful environment as the push is on to meet the deadline. Programmers must be able to maintain composure and remain productive in a stressful environment.

Character Sketch

Much of a programmer's time is spent writing programming code. To do the job well, programmers need the ability to think logically, while at the same time, creatively. They must take a thorough and methodical approach when writing and debugging programs. Programming can often be a painstaking process, and to rush through the job can mean having to retrace steps to fix problems. With tight deadlines, no one has time for that. Procrastination is a programmer's nightmare. With the speed at which things can happen, tasks simply can't be put off until tomorrow.

Personality Checkpoint: Whether programmers are debugging an existing program or writing new ones, they need to pay close attention to detail. For programmers, patience is definitely a virtue.

Network Administration

Computer networks initially started out as a means of sharing peripheral devices, such as printers, between computers to avoid having to purchase redundant equipment. The idea of networking from there has, to say the least, become quite popular. There can be no doubt that nowadays companies, whether large or small, are reliant upon their computer networks. Local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs) are the name of the game for businesses, providing the connectivity and communication backbone for companies.

Essentially, a computer network is comprised of several computers connected together for the purposes of sharing files between them, sharing devices between them, and maintaining security. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well the theory isn't, and the practice is often even harder.

The complexity of computer networks has advanced significantly to the point that a layman entering a network server room may mistake his surroundings for the cockpit of a space shuttle. Network administrators of today must contend with many technical factors associated with maintaining a network, and also the personalities of the people who are reliant upon the network. In addition, they must have the ability to support products from various manufacturers, all of which need to be made to work with each other.

Personality Checkpoint: Network administrators often work in environments that require minimal contact with end users and involve extensive time monitoring and improving the network. Other network administrators will find themselves spending large amounts of time with end users and less time monitoring the network. In either case, network administrators must have good communication skills and the ability to relay technical information in an easy, non-threatening manner.

Stress Factors

Unfortunately, network administration is not without its stresses. Most companies rely on networks for everything from printing to Internet access. If a network goes down, often times so does the business.To some businesses, such network disruption is an inconvenience, but to other companies, a non-functioning network can be a devastating financial blow. In either case, network administrators will be getting a call, and will be expected to be a swift and effective resource in what can be a troubling time.

It is not just about fixing problems, however. Long hours on weekends and evenings are sometimes required to upgrade networks or to maintain them in an effort to keep them up and running. Much of the time, upgrades and maintenance need to be performed outside of normal office hours. If you become a network administrator or network engineer, don't be surprised to be working after everyone else has gone home.

Personality Checkpoint: When network problems occur, administrators must be ready to address the problem in a timely fashion despite the complexity of the problem. When the network is down, you must be prepared to be in the spotlight, and a very bright spotlight it is.
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