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Part of Western Governors University

November 21, 2019

Information Technology

Why a degree in IT shouldn't intimidate you.

A girl sitting at a computer celebrates with her hands in the air.

So you're considering pursuing a degree in IT, but you're worried that maybe you don't belong in technology.

After all, you don't feel like you fit into any of the tech stereotypes. You're not a tech startup whiz kid, a genius hacker, or a wizard who can code anything. Should you even bother studying for an IT degree?

The short answer: of course you should.

Facing IT intimidation.

The long answer is a little more complicated.

Media depicts technology as something that's too complicated for many people, so some students might be too intimidated to study IT or computer science. They might think they have to live and breathe technology or that they need to be a proficient coder or hacker before they join an IT degree program. Others might be familiar with computers but concerned about the mathematics or abstract concepts of computing.

Concerns about not succeeding with an IT degree program might be compounded for women and students of color. Despite the technology industry's attempts to diversify, men made up 81 percent of software developers in 2018, and 59 percent were white, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Barriers to education, such as income disparity and structural inequalities, can also cause students to feel nervous about pursuing an IT degree.

But anyone can succeed in an IT degree program—and anyone can use the degree to launch a fruitful career. If you're interested in an IT career, here are some ways to battle the intimidation you might feel and ease into your degree program.

Understand your program.

If you’re concerned about not being a prolific coder or worried about the complicated mathematics involved in computing, it’s helpful to know the different roles IT professionals fulfill. Computer scientists design the systems that IT professionals use, and they focus on the theory, design, and programming of computer systems. IT professionals, on the other hand, develop, install, and analyze computer hardware, software, and data. They maintain networks, servers, and databases and use these to solve business problems.

To assuage the fear you might feel about pursuing an IT degree, learn more about what the program entails and if it will prepare you for the role you want to fulfill as an IT professional. You're sure to find areas that connect with your personality and background.

Connect with other IT professionals.

If you feel as if you don't fit in the IT world, connect with other students and professionals in your field. By making connections and challenging yourself outside of class, you'll be a better IT student, and you'll feel more confident in your studies.

Some resources include:

  • Slashdot: A news and information site for technology professionals.
  • HackerNews: Not just for hackers, HackerNews is a tech-focused news site.
  • r/SysAdmin: An area of Reddit just for IT professionals where you can connect to people working in your field.
  • Blacks in Technology: A global community of Black technology professionals.
  • Tech Ladies: A worldwide community of women in tech.

Talk to your instructors.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you're having trouble in a course, you should speak to your professor and let them know where you're having issues. When intimidation or fear starts to creep in, talking with your instructors can ease your nerves. Instructors can help you form a study plan, set you up with tutors, and connect you with other resources to help you get back on track.

Find a role that resonates.

Remember: IT is a wide and varied field. When you work in IT, you'll have a number of jobs available to you. People with IT degrees might work as system administrators, help desk techs, security analysts, network architects, or database administrators. They might work in management or in more business-forward jobs, such as IT director or chief information officer.

If you don't code, don't worry. There are plenty of jobs for you that don't require you to build projects on GitHub in your spare time. Before you jump into a program, research different specializations to see what resonates most with your interests, background, and experience. This will help make you feel more comfortable in your program.

Gaining confidence.

The IT field needs workers. According to Daily Infographic, there are 17 percent more job openings than available workers, and 70 percent of executives say their current employees lack sufficient tech and computer skills. With the right skills and education, you could help fill the gaps in this growing industry.

Don't let intimidation get you down. No matter your skill set, if you're interested in computers, there's more than enough room for you in the technology job market.

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