Starting From Scratch in the World of IT: The #1 Tip to Remember

Starting From Scratch in the World of IT: The #1 Tip to Remember

By: Carmen Chen
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IPS software blade. Proof of concept. PSTN Trunking. Core switch procurement. SNMPv3. What does this all mean?!  

Those terms were just the tip of the iceberg as I delved deep into the world of Information Technology for my first co-op placement at BCNET, a not-for-profit, shared information technology services organization. Slowly but surely, I am happy to say that I paved my way to understanding terms that surround the world of IT.

Looking back from when I first started my placement in late August - excited, nervous, and curious about my new position at BCNET - I have since learned so much about the world of IT procurements, hardware, and meetings.

If I was to offer one piece of advice on how to succeed in an environment you know next to nothing about, it is this:

Know when to ask questions.

Don’t be scared to ask questions; everyone has to start somewhere. It is worse to not ask questions and do the task wrong, than it is to ask a couple of questions prior and do a great job. I know that you probably hear this all the time; I certainly have. But I didn’t really take this piece of advice into account until I came into my position as a communications coordinator at BCNET without much knowledge about the IT industry to start with.

Consequently, I asked a lot of questions – and I still do. Don’t see your need to ask questions as a sign of weakness or incompetency, but as a way to learn and grow. Your Co-op supervisor understands that most of us are going into these internships as beginners. They expect and encourage questions, and that is completely normal.

For example, when I asked my supervisor what she considered my strengths as an employee, she even mentioned the fact that I am not afraid to ask questions. I was quite surprised, as I had not considered the ability to ask questions to be, in and of itself, a strength. Therefore I found her perspective all the more encouraging; it’s one more piece of evidence that it is not a bad idea to ask questions!

So the next time you are stuck on or confused by a task, don’t be afraid or shy to ask for advice. If you do feel nervous about approaching your superior, perhaps try to ask other people in the office first. More often than not, they are willing to help you succeed since all of you are in this together.

Finally, don’t forget to say thanks, and show your appreciation to those who have helped you. I know I wouldn’t have been able to learn so much about the world of IT without the help of a fantastic team that helped guide me every step of the way!

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Posted on March 27, 2015