Bullish: Tech Skills Are Not Optional For Your Career

Jennifer Dziura writes Bullish, a career column, for The Grindstone on Fridays and Bullish Life, a life coaching column, for our sister site TheGloss on Tuesdays.

I think most people agree that, even if you don’t want to be a writer, it’s important to be able to write.

Whether you want to be an opera singer or a relief worker or a mountaineering instructor, you need to be able to send literate emails to people in positions of power and to send out typo-free resumes. You might need to write grant proposals. Et cetera. Which is why you had to take English every year of school, even if you only wanted to do music or science.

Technology is now the same thing.

(Note: The post image is from ThinkGeek, inspired by a man who called the help desk, asked for technical support, and – not believing that the female voice on the line was technical support, replied “No, I need [enunciating] tech-ni-cal sup-port.”)

I just don’t think there’s any excuse for, “Oh, I’m just bad at technology.” Would you say, “Oh, I’m just terrible at English?” Probably not if it’s the only language you know, right? There’s nothing cute or praiseworthy at claiming incapacity at something that is now an inextricable part of any job. Here’s the Harvard Business Review: Technological Know-How is a Job Requirement.

Being terrible with computers is simple illiteracy. It’s not something to brag about.

Furthermore, tech skills – even if you don’t want to start a tech company or work in IT – 1) help make you more self-sufficient as an entrepreneur, and 2) give you solid, concrete, verifiable skills that no one can deny, even if he or she doesn’t like what you look like or where you came from.

On the first point, Amanda Steinberg, founder and CEO of DailyWorth, said in this interview with TheGrindstone:

“When getting a business up and running, it’s crucial to be as self-sufficient as possible. Absorb every relevant skill you can, so you don’t have to rely on others to do work you could do yourself. An example of this is learning how to write Web programming code – it virtually guarantees job security, garners lucrative wages, and makes you one of the more influential contributors to any project. It also gives you the freedom to start any online business as you don’t have to pay someone to experiment with new ideas. Learning how to program over a period of five-six years was without a doubt the most important thing I’ve done in my career.”

On the second point, IT guru Reginald Braithwaite’s A Woman’s Story is the tale of his mother’s foray into computer programming before anyone even knew what that was.

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