Qualities of a Good Computer Professional
A successful dancer must love music, have a good sense of rhythm, and be coordinated. Similarly, computer professionals must possess certain attributes to thrive in IT.
- Solve Problems and Troubleshoot: At the top of the list for most computer careers is not just the ability to solve problems but also a desire to solve problems. Whether it’s a software application, or a computer network, or an animated Web page, troubleshooting is the name of the game. When something doesn’t work right, a successful computer professional must not give up, but rather must use every resource at hand to fix the issue. Many times, looming deadlines add an element of pressure to the situation, so a cool head is also a useful characteristic.
- Research: Related to problem solving is the ability to research solutions. Many resources exist, such as coworkers, discussion groups on the Internet, journals and magazines, and books. A good problem solver is willing to delve into all these resources to find the best solution.
- Multitask: It is a rare luxury for a computer professional to be able to work on only one project, or one problem, at a time. It is far more common to be required to work on several different things at once, often with similar deadlines. To handle this situation, computer professionals must be able to prioritize projects, switch from one project to another without losing focus, and plan milestones for each project so that each is completed on time.
- Be Detail-Oriented, Analytical, and Accurate: In an industry where a single misplaced semicolon can cause a computer program to crash, or an incorrectly wired network can allow hackers to compromise corporate communications, attention to detail is paramount. Computer professionals must also be capable of analyzing a problem, mapping out a solution, then executing that solution in an accurate manner.
- See the Big Picture: Computers are made up of many tiny components. Corporate networks consist of many computers. Software applications often include hundreds of integrated modules. Understanding how smaller parts fit into the whole is very important for all computer professionals. It is not enough to simply focus on a single part — a computer professional must also understand how all the parts are integrated.
- Be Adaptable: If there is one thing that never changes about computers, it is that they never stop changing. Software requirements change. Communication protocols change. Hardware changes. Instead of becoming frustrated with this state of flux, computer professionals must assume that every day something is going to be different and adapt to the new situation. Part of this adaptability is the willingness to learn new things. To keep skills from becoming outdated, a computer professional must constantly read about new technologies and determine how they might be useful.
- Work Collaboratively: We often hear “No man is an island” and “It takes a village…” Certainly, most computer professionals must work as members of a team, collaborating to create solutions. Being team-oriented, willing to share both responsibility and recognition, is important to success in almost all computer careers. Increasingly, teams are geographically diverse. For example, team members may reside in Israel, Ireland, the United States, and Japan and communicate with each other electronically. Computer professionals must be aware of differing time zones, cultures, and languages, and learn to work with people who may have different work styles and opinions.
- Communicate Well: Although there are some examples of “geeks” who are notorious for their bad spelling, reluctance to socialize, and single-syllable conversations, most computer professionals will find their career paths more successful if they possess good communication skills. Examples of how computer professionals can leverage good communication skills include well-commented computer code (so someone else can figure out how the program works), memos to management about how a project is progressing, and articles for professional and trade publications.