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
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
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: http://www.welchwrite.com/
He can reached via email at email@example.com