Career Opportunities

A ComputorEdge Column

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Peeves, Pitfalls and Pickles: Part 2

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

Not every person wants to be a computer support person. This is above and beyond the usual requirements of knowing how to use your computer for your job. Sometimes when you become recognized as a computer expert you might find yourself being overworked and underpaid in a profession you never really wanted.

What's the job description?

How you deal with the above situation will depend heavily on your plans for the future. People who show aptitude for computer skills are often turned into the local computer guru for an otherwise non-technical work group. For example, a CAD (computer-aided design) operator may know quite a bit about the computer as well as design. Even though he was hired as a CAD operator, he may soon end up spending the majority of his time assisting other CAD operators with their computer problems, developing templates and installing new software.

This can be an excellent career direction if it is one you want to follow. Some people, though, do not wish to fall into this role. They want to continue doing what they were hired to do, not provide computer support to everyeone else. Only you can make this decision and it must be based not only on your wishes but also on the effect the change might have on your employability elsewhere. It will improve your job prospects in the support field but might change how people view your skills and tallents.

The Flip Side

The other side of this coin is a person who wants to move from computer work into another, perhaps creative, area of the company. Experience has shown me that this is one of the most difficult routes to take. It is somewhat foolhardy to assume that joining a company as a computer worker will provide in-roads into another part of the company.

The problem stems from most people's ability to see other people as one stereotypical entity. Managers in other departments will only see you as a computer support person, network manager or other computer staffer. It will be very hard to provide them a new image of you regardless of your skills in their area.

Success in this endeavor also calls for a great desire. You will have to work doubly hard to establish your credentials in this new field while still performing your current job to the highest levels. Failure in either of these will nearly guarantee failure overall.

In most cases, the only true way of moving from a computer field into a different field is leaving your current company and position. You can then enter another company without the stigma of your previous career clouding people's minds. Eventually, you can then re-apply to your old company in your new position. It is a long road but often the only one that works effectively.

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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