To succeed in the technology field, you must be open to improving your skills, love what you do, and continue to learn. These insights were at the heart of our recent chat with Paul Buchanan, an IT Specialist Tech Lead with the Social Security Administration. If you’re wondering what separates the successful from mediocre and how you can bring your best value to the IT sector, keep reading.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and readability.
What do you love most about your work in IT?
What I love most about my job is being exposed to new technology on a regular basis. I get to play with those things, include them, and build upon them. To take something you love and include it in your work is something that will help you get up in the morning. Even ten, twenty, thirty years down the road, it’ll have significance. You’ll look back on your life and say, I did what I enjoyed doing.
What is one thing you do well that helps you succeed in the technology field?
Many people might be surprised that writing is an essential skill to succeed in the technology field. Oftentimes when I’m working through a project or finishing a project, I write a report on the success or failure. I like to do these write-ups that include all the people with whom I networked. It’s very important to include people, and they need to see this. They see the work that they did and how they’re respected for it. It allows you a chance to show them how you’re really appreciative of their contribution. These reports are a crucial component to my career success.
How can one engage to succeed in the technology field?
A technology professional must be open to networking and learning from experts in the community. To do this, look at tech websites, listen to tech podcasts, and find those new trends in technologies through reading. Then connect. Ask questions. Join the conversations.
What advice would you give to someone entering the technology field?
Some advice I’d give to those entering the technology field is to hone in on your area of interest and become really good at that. Then, learn how to network with people who are masters of their specific areas and tap into each other when needed.
I would also counsel anybody with a burning desire to succeed in the technology field to find a mentor. A trusted mentor can help them to understand how to effectively convey ideas across diverse channels. That is of such paramount importance when it comes to promotion. People are typically promoted based on their ability to communicate rather than their understanding of the material that they’ve wound up managing. You have to understand people and technology. And that’s what I think a good solid education in Technology Management gives you. It gives you an understanding of the technology and the skills to communicate with people.
How important is education to someone’s success in this field?
It’s true when they say that a college education will open doors. But walking through the door and what you do on the other side of the door is what matters most. How do you use your college education once you get in there?
Your college career is not just book studies. It’s those things that you learned in the classroom and your ability to draw upon them in the real world.
So what do you carry forward from your college career? You carry forward the ability to inculcate the information that you learned in the classroom and then apply that ability to your work life. That is a key that will be with you for the rest of your career, and it will give you so much success.
How does someone keep up with this fast-moving industry?
This industry moves very, very quickly. There are so many players in the game now who want to succeed in the technology field. They are running in all kinds of different directions. There are so many focuses. I would advise to just pull in and focus on that thing that you want to get really good at.
What’s a value admired in the technology field?
Integrity will take you further than you could ever imagine. If management feels that you are someone they can depend on, someone who’s competent and trustworthy, then you become that person they think of in times of promotion. They will believe that you have not only their best interests in mind, but that of the entire organization, and that promoting you in some way promotes them. That’s key. Integrity is so, so important. As is being able to be a person of integrity who then mentors people to be people of integrity. You build a strong reputation that way. And it’s a reputation that you’ll carry with you throughout your career, no matter where you go.
What skills should someone focus on building to succeed?
Technology Management blends technology and business management which maximizes business output. To create that impact you have to be resourceful. To be resourceful in today’s world you have to know when, where, and how to contact people. Being able to communicate effectively in both spoken and written form is essential. That is a skill in high demand.
How does someone stay relevant in this ever-changing field?
You have to be willing to grow beyond the boundaries that you naturally have for yourself. When you can do that, you will draw people to you. That influence establishes credibility. It establishes a base with which you can network and you can network through those people to reach other people that you need in order to join you in your projects. If you can become a master of your mind in the terms of how you learn, then there’s nothing that you can’t pull in and transform internally. You’ll become someone capable of solving problems that others can’t. Learning will lead to success. So the more you dive into learning mode, the more successful you’ll be.
Ready to Extend Beyond?
Consider UMBC’s Technology Management Graduate Program if you want to extend beyond and succeed in the technology industry. The program is designed to develop successful leaders in today’s organization. Our graduates know how to think strategically about leading people in a diverse environment, make sound ethical decisions, and utilize technology to provide a strategic advantage at an appropriate level of risk.
Our graduates are prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Contact our program coordinator to learn more today!