Choosing a major: A scrunchy-wearing teenager chose my career

A teenager chose my career. She had permed hair that she frequently pulled back in a scrunchy. She had an inexplicable number of shoulder-baring shirts. She was not a trained guidance counselor.

After choosing to go to business school because of a Judd Nelson movie, she chose my major based largely on one consideration:

  • Easy classes

That’s pretty much it. It’s so scary that we put teenagers in charge of choosing a major.

My parents like gadgets, so they were early adopters of home computers. As a result I was quite comfortable with computers by the time I got to college which made information systems classes pretty easy. And there was very little math and no foreign language requirement! (Hey, teenage me, it is useful to know math and a foreign language even if you have to study for those classes.)

Anyway, this teenager made me an information systems major (now commonly referred to as information technology or IT). That teenager stuck me in an IT box for twenty years.

I’ve tried multiple times to escape the IT world, but I am generally viewed as too “techie” for other work. This is funny (and frustrating) to me since I am typically the least technical person in a room of IT people. Although I started out as a computer programmer (now called software engineers) I haven’t done hands on technical work for over a decade. I have some conceptual and policy knowledge, but most of my “technical skills” could easily be done by anyone who is capable of reading.

Yet again I am looking for jobs. Yet again I am applying for some positions that are not IT jobs. Yet again I am trying to convince people that my skills can be applied to other things.

Will someone take a chance and give me a non-IT position? Will I end up doing more of the same? Will I get a job at all?

Stay tuned to find out.

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