IT, that’s the hoodie-wearing nerds in the vault. Especially in the news footage: There has been a publicity-grabbing computer failure in a company, and the background image is of a person in front of a laptop, shutters down, casting a striped shadow on a hoodie. The only new development since a few years is that the hacker is sometimes female.
Recently, when asked what I did for a living, I told a woodworker that I am a computer specialist. His answer was that he couldn’t spend the whole day sitting in front of a computer. I replied that I couldn’t do that either. He said he works with people. I asked him where and when he actually works with people. Approximately every 6 weeks, he advises customers on individual pieces of furniture or their restoration, apart from that, he works alone in the workshop.
He didn’t believe that I work far more with people. For him, IT means sitting in front of a computer and programming. And so I tried to explain to him the tasks of an IT architect. I told him that I need to understand the client, his culture, his maturity level. That we need to agree on the right level of IT services that will bring real business value to the client. That I have to reconcile the picture I have of the customer’s IT with the reality in the company. That I have to win people over to change their work and show them a nuanced picture of what their future could look like.
I honestly don’t know if I really reached him. At least he knows that there are people in computer engineering who work intensively with people and social systems. But I guess he still believes that most of us work with pizza fingers in the basement.
This highly stupid image of IT professions probably plays a great deal into why we have been lacking young talent in this sector for years. Particularly for female trainees and students, “sitting in front of a computer all day” is likely to be quite a put-off.
I can only say that the job opportunities in IT are extremely wide-ranging, you get to know great customers, and you can develop super interesting innovations for the business with them. Not a single day goes by that I do not work with other people.
Dear computer professionals, let’s talk more often about our profession, about exciting, challenging or funny encounters with clients, always in the bright sunshine as well as sometimes wearing a hoodie.