What I Wish I Knew Earlier in My IT Career: Part 5
August 16, 2021
When I started my IT audit career, there was a lot I thought I knew, and a lot I was certain I didn’t know. What’s interesting is that the reality was sometimes different than what I thought. This is probably true for any career. As you mature in your profession, you realize what you’ve learned when reflecting on the past, but also how some things changed your perspective. When I started, I often thought badly of people who asked “stupid questions” depending on the context. But I quickly learned in my profession, especially early on in my career, that there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Which brings me to one of the things I wish I were better aware of when I started my career: How valuable all of the people around me could be if I was more willing to ask questions. This is important. Believe me, I asked a lot of questions -- but I would sometimes hesitate asking certain questions for fear of asking a “stupid” question. I didn’t want to appear as though I didn’t know what I was talking about in a client meeting with an IT director or CIO. So, I sometimes let information slip away because I was afraid to ask a simple question that I thought might make me look uninformed. What I learned quickly in those first 6-12 months: There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and you find that out in a very direct way when weeks later in a project, it’s revealed that that question was important. Asking some questions that may appear unnecessary helps provide clarity and context and, ultimately, saves time in the end.
This is why it’s so important to ask questions and be a sponge and not be afraid to keep asking questions. Do research where possible and ensure you’re as prepared as you can be for a client, but utilize the people around you in your office and at your clients to learn as much as you can. As long as you’re professional and know how to carry yourself with your colleagues and the client, you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t know the acronym being thrown around in the room, or may not understand the context of something being said in the discussion, or don’t know what “etsy password” means when someone says it out loud in a meeting (it’s a UNIX command to obtain the password file – etc/passwd).
I could have saved myself a few early stumbles in my first year if I asked some questions instead of hesitating. Be confident in your skills and don’t make the same mistake.