Job Title: IT Consultant
Type of Company: My company provides information technology services. We provide ways for companies to provide technology services to their employees at reduced costs and improved efficiency and quality. We also help companies build new software applications to support different parts of their business.
Education: BS, Computer Science
Previous Experience: I have always worked in information systems.
Job Tasks: The central part of any computer program used by a company to run their business is called the database. That's where the data entered into an application by an employee is stored. I work on designing, building and maintaining that database. The main parts of my job are talking to the employees who do the actual work and documenting what they do, along with ways they want to improve it. This is called "requirements gathering." This process can last a month or more in some cases. I then use this information to develop a model of the things a company needs to keep track of: customers, orders, parts, warehouses and what have you. This modeling process results in a picture of how the things relate to each other. (A customer has orders, for example, and all the details about that thing need to be tracked: its address, cost, tax, quantity.) The model is then used to create a physical database in a database management system like Microsoft's product called SQL Server. This is then used by programmers to store and retrieve the information from the application being built.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love building new applications that help people do their jobs better. But sometimes I work on projects that are not very challenging and require me to do rote tasks that require little thought.
Job Tips: Read, Read, Read. Magazines, white papers and blogs are great sources of industry information. Make sure not to get too caught up in the latest technology craze, though. Most new tools or methodologies are over-promoted; most have some value but not as much as the industry press may lead you to believe. Be a little cynical, but be open to new ways of doing things. You must expect to learn new languages and tools as you go through your career. Try to be at least familiar with what is in demand in the marketplace.
Additional Thoughts: There are many ways to get involved with information technology and they don't all have to be technical. One of the positions in demand is project manager. Learning how to develop software and how to manage a team of people can provide a lifetime of work. Even for technical positions having a computer science degree is not necessary (though it makes it easier). Many large companies use offshore offices for doing development of programs and the onshore do the architecture and design, so plan on moving from development to design as soon as you get some experience.
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