Tech Tips - Troubleshooting, Confidence, and Managing Change
Those interested in starting a career in IT often wonder just what it takes to become an IT professional, or on a smaller scale, how to get better at working with technology in general. Honestly, I think the most valuable thing for both an IT professional and someone not yet in the industry to understand is the importance of ‘knowing what you do not know’. In my experience, many major computer-related mistakes revolve around folks, even IT professionals, using poor judgment, not following a standardized decision-making process, and making changes without considering the overall impact. The key here is to ask for help when needed, and not make any system changes without the knowledge and ability to rollback to a known good state.
Outside of that, the main things that may be helpful for a non-IT professional to do in regards to technology in general are the following:
Take a logical approach to troubleshooting
IT professionals are dealing with broken equipment, software, and processes on a daily basis. Therefore, they have a solid understanding of how to identify patterns and the associated root causes fairly quickly (at least that is the hope). A non-IT professional can actually pick this up easily by remembering that replicating the issue is the first and most important step to solving a problem. Once you can replicate the issue, you can then make incremental changes (make a change - test - make another change - test) while documenting your steps so you can reverse them if needed.
Increase your overall comfort level with technology
IT professionals generally have a solid intuition for how a given technology works, simply by being exposed to it day after day. This comfort level allows them to interact with new tech in a confident manner. A non-IT professional can pick this skill up simply by dedicating themselves to technology and diving head-first into situations they are not familiar with. For example, find a technology that you have always wondered about and start trying to use it. Once you get to a point where you can’t do something or get frustrated, then stop. Research the issue, find a solution, and implement it. Then, reverse your solution and implement it again and again, until it is second nature. Once you have the overall process down, picking up new tech will be much easier and you will be more comfortable (and confident) doing so.
Manage Change and Expectations
As with anything in life, change and the associated expectations for dealing with it can be extremely difficult to manage, particularly in an area you are not comfortable or familiar with. For example, if I purchase a new iPhone after using an Android for many years, there is going to be a learning curve associated with it. However, since I have literally migrated hundreds of people to new phones over the course of a decades long IT career, I know what to expect and understand that it will simply take some time for me to learn the ins and outs and that it may not work perfectly on day 1. My expectations are tempered by my previous experiences, so I consider and address any possible frustrations or negative outcomes. As an example, I would not schedule any mission critical phone meetings or facetime meetings on day 1 with the new phone; in fact I would schedule time for myself to set up at least 1 test call or facetime to ensure that I understand how it works and can successfully use it (again, confidently and comfortably) when needed.
Please notice that I didn’t mention anything specific about specialized education or credentials. While those are certainly important, and definitely play a role, I think the above items are overall more critical to the success of an IT professional and can be applied to other industries and areas. I’d really like to stress that IT is such an amazing field because literally anyone with the desire to learn can enjoy a long and successful career in it. The advent of the internet (and Google and Quora of course) has really empowered those with an inquisitive nature, strong work ethic, and sincere passion for technology to reach their career goals… it’s a beautiful thing!
I know this was a bit long winded, but I hope it helps. Just remember that logical troubleshooting, confidence, and managing change is the key to dealing with technology!
Oh and if you are looking for something more specific… Check out our tutorials and how-to section.