As a child, I was lied to.
OK, so lied to is a very strong statement. Let’s say that I was misinformed with half-truths and partial knowledge. I don’t think it was done on purpose. People told me what they thought was true, it just turns out that they were wrong.
“You want to always have a job? Learn computers.” I heard this from everyone. From well-meaning aunts and uncles to confused teachers and educators.
This information might have been right at one time, but when it was passed on to me, the advice was already useless. By that time, there was already a computer at every desk. I entered the workforce too late to leverage “computers” as a skill.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Computer skills (read: computer skillz) are still very important, but telling someone that knowing computers is the key to success is tantamount to telling someone that a car is the key to driving to the store. Knowing how to use email or knowing the basic parts of a computer are no longer skills. They are requirements for those either entering or looking to enter the job market.
Computer Skillz: The Basics
If you don’t know these programs though, don’t worry for there is hope. Thankfully enough, free courses (click on highlighted text to go visit the site) are available from The Empire…I mean, from Microsoft. The classes not only cover the basics, but they go much further in-depth. They have classes going back to Office 2007. When people ask me, and they have, where to begin once there, I tell them the ones that they will use most often when they enter the job markets. Start with Word and Excel. Even if you wind up using a different program (OpenOffice for instance), many of the concepts will translate over.
You might be asking, “Yo, that’s super cool, dude, but what if I want to, like, learn something in IT that will make me more, you know, desirable to companies and stuff?” First off, don’t call me dude and don’t say yo. Second, that is a great question.
After 20 plus years of working in IT, I recently started teaching myself how to use SQL. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. One of my SQL mentors directed me to a free website (W3schools.com) that teaches SQL and many other skills, such as HTML and Java. Even a working knowledge of these applications will set you apart if you are starting out in IT.
I can say that short of writing Quantum Leap/Doctor Who fanfic, fewer things have made me feel as nerdy as learning (and enjoying learning) database language. (See, Sam jumps into the body of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and went on an adventure with Number Four.)
My Key to Success
When I entered the IT world, I had no special skills and I had no certifications. I had no formal training. I did not even have a degree. (Still don’t, but I am trying to fix that now at the age of…let’s just say, old.) I have some things that set me apart. I was able to follow directions and I possessed a little bit of common sense. I was able to read instructions and I was not afraid to ask questions. I still ask questions after close to 20 years working in IT.
If all else fails, try turning it off and back on again. Or you can try forcing an unexpected reboot. Either way.