A shorter post this time around. Not as wordy.
I’ve always needed a little cash here and there for my various forays and experiments. My most recent was a failure. As it turns out, you can’t use a microwave to send text messages back in time. I blame the Organization.
The funding for these fun things has, for about a year now, come from doing contract IT work. It’s always hourly, and it’s always for less than a week. I’ve done about 20 of these little jobs so far, and I’ve been able to sort pretty much all of my coworkers into three groups: People with skills getting a start in IT, people whose family always told them they were good with computers, and a much sadder group I’ll save for last.
People with some skill
The first group is pretty self explanatory. This person actually has some skills that can be put to use in the IT field. He can do some basic problem solving and doesn’t need to seek the supervisor’s direction every 5 minutes. When he goes to the supervisor with a problem, he usually already has a solution figured out, and is just checking to make sure it’s okay. He knows a programming language or two, and is probably a college student looking to get some valuable hands-on experience while raising tuition money. If he’s further along on his journey than you are, he’s an awesome source of information; which certifications mean more to employers, which staffing agencies to stay away from, things he wished he’d known when he was where you are now.
People who are “good with computers”
This second group is much closer to the definition of a “script kiddie” than anything else. This person was told by family, friends, and pretty much everyone around him that he’s “good with computers”, and that went directly to his head. Should you look beneath the surface, however, you’ll find someone who barely knows how to do basic maintenance tasks, and not much else. His troubleshooting skills end at virus scans and disk defragmentation. He knows all of the buzzwords, and he uses them all wrong. He installed Rainmeter and now he thinks he’s Neo. It’s especially hilarious to watch him struggle to intelligently converse with his coworkers. You wonder whether he’s planning to bullshit his way through his career, if he’s in denial, or if he just doesn’t know he sucks.
That’s not everyone, however. I encountered a much sadder, and thankfully much smaller group of people who work these jobs…
Seasoned professionals settling for the contract work
He’s 40. He has a Master’s degree and certifications out the ass. For some reason, though, he has to settle for the hourly 3-day contract position to hopefully scrape enough money together for gas and groceries. His very soul has been broken, you can see it in his face. You know he’s never more mad than when he hears about information systems being such an in-demand field. You watch this nearly infinitely qualified veteran get pooled with the script kiddies and college kids, and you almost consider ditching the field entirely. He isn’t a good sign for things to come.
I told you he was sad.