Monday, June 16, 2014

Secret Sauce for a Successful Career in ICT

MPICT is often asked what students need to know in order to develop and prosper in an information and communication technologies (ICT) fields.  Usually, they are attempting to elicit specific technologies, technical buzzwords.

In the long run, it is important to have a unique value add in a technical organization, something you specialize in, where you can do something others cannot, to help the effort in a unique way.  You will want to continually develop new and valuable knowledge and skill sets, throughout your career, to stay relevant and to advance.  Determining which specializations to pursue is a very personal decision.  It depends on individual passion and predisposition.  Try things, and go after what makes you excited.

However, in the meantime, good advice is to take the time to develop strong fundamental knowledge and skills, which will serve you throughout your career, in any industry, in any ICT related job role.  An excellent description of foundational competencies expected in IT operational roles is available in the U.S. Department of Labor IT Competency Model, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by an MPICT study of 782 California employers.  With a foundation like that, you can pursue a wide variety of specializations.

In reviewing the competencies in that model, many people go straight to the foundational technical competencies in layer 4.  That layer is important.

However, from thousands of employer input opportunities, we can say without hesitation that the workforce readiness competencies in layers 1 through 3 of the DOL pyramid are at least as important.

In general:
  • Get a good general education, so you can interact intelligently on a variety of topics
  • Understand that education is about really developing you and your abilities, not about getting a grade
  • Be able to communicate effectively, in verbal and written forms
  • Have at least good basic math skills
  • Be able to get along with diverse others and be able to work together effectively
  • Be a good problem solver and be able to explain problems and solutions
  • Acquire digital and information literacy (amazing how many "tech" people can't type when that is a primary way of communicating)
  • Take pride in your work
  • Be able to understand the big pictures and how what you do fits into them, including industry, organizational, social and cultural elements
  • Be able to understand and add value to organizational efforts
  • Have reasonable expectations
  • Take charge of your own ever-continuous learning
  • Make it real by doing things with what you learn in the real world, to demonstrate your abilities
  • Have common sense
  • Understand that others who are different than you have to be able to understand and work with what you create and make that easy for them
  • Be professional
  • Find your passions and be able to communicate and demonstrate them
  • Care about others
Good luck!

This post was prepared in response to a request by Webucator, as part of a campaign to promote ICT workforce development.  Learn more at:

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