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It pays to know Macintosh

by Douglas E. Welch

January 28, 2000

© 2000, Douglas E. Welch

With the ubiquity of Microsoft Windows and Intel-based computers you can begin to wonder whether there are any other types of computers in the world today. While Apple's heavy marketing of the iMac and iBook laptop has certainly helped increase their visibility recently, there are still many people who think the words computer and Windows are synonymous. As a Macintosh user I can assure you that there is more to the world of computer platforms than Windows. In fact, your understanding of the Macintosh can be a factor in many facets of your career from starting your computer career, providing opportunity for a career change or enhancing the profitability of your consulting or training business.

Small, but loyal

The loyalty of Mac users is legendary even to those who infrequently use computers. It could be said that this loyalty alone is what has allowed Apple to stay in business at all. In some areas, such as graphic design, advertising and video production, Macs are still the predominant computer platform. People working in creative positions tend to lean towards the Mac for a variety of reasons. This often leads to small enclaves of Mac users within larger Windows-only companies.

If you are looking to transition out of your current tech job into something more creative you would be well advised to brush up on your Mac skills. These skills could mean the difference between landing a new job and continuing your search. First, since many creative departments use Macintosh they will want to be assured that you will be ready to work on the tools they use most. You want to give them every reason to hire you and Macintosh experience is a major step in the right direction. While steeping yourself in Windows arcana certainly won't leave you unemployed it can limit your options. Keep all your doors open.

He/she with the most skills wins

As I have said in many past columns, experience is what lands a job, especially when you are just starting out in your career. The more skills you have at hand the more jobs you will be able to apply for, the more interviews you will get and the more offers you will receive. Even if you aren't a full time Mac user like myself your experience with them can provide one more reason to hire you when the going gets tough.

It is a rare company that doesn't have a few Macs hidden away in certain art departments or other small, specialized areas. Your ability to support these users can give you a step up on the competition. Even if the company has no Macs at all your knowledge can be useful when your Windows users need to share information with other contractors or companies that do use the Mac. Every little bit helps when you are trying to start a computer career so I highly recommend learning about the Macintosh and any other non-Windows computer platform.

Turning customers away

No computer consultant likes to turn customers away. You can practically see the dollar bills fluttering out the door after them, especially when you have had a slow month. Unfortunately, your lack of Macintosh knowledge may be causing your to turn customers away all the same. While the bulk of your income will be made working with Windows systems there are some definite advantages to staying Mac savvy.

Mac support people are hard to find. Good ones, even harder. Once you start gathering a few Mac-based clients you will find yourself receiving more and more referrals. Once Mac users have someone who can help them reliably, they will share your name with their friends and neighbors who also have Macs. Most computer users have an on-going need for support and training, but Mac users tend to have a more difficult time finding it. This is to your advantage.

Just as Mac users are loyal to their computer platform, they can be extremely loyal to those who help them. I have had several of my Mac clients for years. They call me again and again as they upgrade to new software and new computers.

The popularity of the iMac provides another interesting motive for developing your Macintosh skills. If you traditionally work for small companies, offering iMac support can broaden your business to the home and home office market. Conversely, if you are working mainly with home-based clients, the Mac experience you gain help you to expand into those offices that need Macintosh assistance.

Whatever the current state of your business or career, the ability to use and support Macintosh computers is never wasted. Despite its small market share, Apple has an amazing ability to rebound and continues to make the Macintosh a viable alternative for millions of computer users. Don't turn your back on the Macintosh. You might find that it can help you in ways you never imagined.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at

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