A career in IT - much more than a Programmer

27/11/2019

Not only student career days but also questions and attitudes of young people who come to the internship interviews show that many future IT specialists often confuse IT fields and have little idea of the difference between an IT engineer or IT security specialist and a programmer.

So, this time we are talking to four professionals in different IT fields, Marius, Justas, Tomas and Mantas from Centric IT Solutions Lithuania, to better understand the broadness of the term “IT specialist” and to learn why IT is so much more than programming.

Marius Guobys, DevOps Team Leader

“In recent years, the DevOps initiative and the changing IT world have led to the fact that the Programmer, System Administrator, Engineer, Tester and others are one team, boiling in the same kettle, and are equal in status and importance. It has enabled IT workflows to be efficient, fast and seamless. However, for many years now, in the general flow of information, IT specialist is considered to be the same as a Programmer, while in reality, the concept of an IT professional is much broader - from Engineers, Testers to Project Managers. So, it is no surprise that seeing this attitude, students naturally level all IT specialties down to the “Programmer.” This is probably also due to the constantly broadcasted message that the market mostly needs Programmers and only them.

Meanwhile, all you need is to think more broadly. Let’s say you are a programmer, who creates a mobile app or a webpage. What should be done next with the product? A good programmer knows that a newly created product must be placed somewhere, reach the user somehow, ensure its safety, and so on. This is the next step - when you are not focused solely on your task as a programmer, but you take a broader look and architecturally understand how many levels deep your app goes rather than just caring about what the user sees.

For example, a simple comparison: it is very important for the programmer that the program works as well as its functionality, for an IT engineer it is important that it operates reliably, safely and the way it was intended to. IT Engineer takes into account the modern threats, business requirements for reliability, what users are doing in the system, what data should be collected. These are the things that programmers usually overlook.

Another common myth that I encounter when interacting with young people is the idea that only a Programmer’s work is interesting and valuable - I program, create and make money for the company. Not at all! The fact that you have programmed something is the same as making an amazing car wheel that doesn’t fit any car.”

Justas Stankūnas, Cloud Engineer

“From earlier times, informatics’ specialists were Programmers and System Administrators: a Programmer created a program, bigger or smaller, and System Administrator installed it on a physical server. As the technology evolved, with the emergence of public cloud infrastructure, the competencies of the systems administrator began to change, creating a space that had to be filled by someone - not the system administrator and not yet a programmer. Therefore, it is natural that the concept of an IT specialist includes a growing number of various specializations.

I believe that curiosity and a broader view are inevitable for staying competitive in the market. In the past, there were fewer tools, less technology. It was enough to learn something specific, keep your certificates, and everyone appreciated and needed you. But today, with the advancement and proliferation of technology, there are many tools that are not even easy to pick. Perfect knowledge of one of the dozens of tools no longer gives you this sort of advantage. A person who will be able to work with (and compare) tools performing three or four of the same functions - even if not having a very detailed understanding of them - will be superior and more useful.”

Tomas Adomavičius, Cloud Architect

“I see a long-standing trend that prospective IT professionals focus on programming and its languages, but neglect infrastructure issues. I wonder what would happen if the young people, from the very beginning, in addition to whichever programming language would also learn infrastructure technologies? Maybe their understanding of IT specialties would be different?

I’m no longer surprised by the students coming to internship interviews thinking that cloud engineering is about programming some kind of apps designed for clouds but I am still surprised when I encounter a future IT professional who doesn’t know what a cloud is...

On the other hand, talking to a person and explaining the variety of roles and specializations of IT professionals can help a young person discover what’s closest and most interesting to them - so I talk to them and encourage others to do so.

For example, I talk about the reasons why the work of an infrastructure engineer is so important. After all, it is a person who not only knows how to maintain a platform but also understands the interdependencies between different platform components. The importance of infrastructure engineering becomes even more visible when you calculate how much money a company loses if the product doesn’t work for a day or even an hour. If the only thing that matters is that the product was launched but no one thinks about what might happen if the database breaks down then such frivolity will hurt companies both in terms of lost users and immediate losses - and we constantly see such examples around us.”

Mantas Zdanavičius, Cloud Operator

“As a specialist who graduated only a semester ago and started an independent career, I can tell you that there is a very strong focus on programming at the University, arguing that once you learn to program, you will have a base which will allow you to move forward, wider and deeper, depending on your own wish. However, knowing many programming languages or having a thorough knowledge of a particular language does not mean that you will have a good understanding of the infrastructure - it is a close field, but not the same.

I already knew when I was studying that I wanted to work in either IT administration or IT infrastructure, so I was learning and searching for knowledge myself - for example, in online courses. Therefore, I understood the overall context, but I still learned a lot from my internship at Centric IT Solutions Lithuania and writing my undergraduate thesis here - everything I learned additionally, had to be put into practice, processes had to be understood.”

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