I’ve thought about becoming a carpenter for as long as I can remember. The idea of crafting something out of a solid block of wood is enticing, and I’m pretty sure I’d excel, or even master carpentry given some time and practice. Unfortunately, I’ve worked in all things IT for about 25 years, so there are many things I should probably unlearn, and many things I have to learn.
But I’ve got a plan, so I should be good! Here it is:
I will dedicate several weeks, possibly even a full month in getting to know the basics. I’m very eager and enthusiastic so that must count for something – perhaps it even accelerates my plan.
I’ll spend a week browsing pictures of carpentry tools – mostly on Pinterest. I guess there are pictures of saws and hammers and nails. I’ll carefully review them all and might even print out a few pictures to study in detail.
The second week I’ll browse pictures of things I can build when I’m soon a carpenter. Bookshelves, chairs, dinner tables and handles for knives, as those are pretty cool. I might even need to learn how to become a blacksmith, as I would need to craft my own blades. Can’t wait!
During week three I’ll write at least two blog posts on what I’ve learned so far. I’ll also spend an afternoon organizing my toolbox at home so that everything is in proper order, should I need any of my current tools when I become a carpenter.
The fourth week is when I start putting together all the things I’ve learned so far. I will browse websites that sell blocks of wood, and I’ll also visit a few DIY and hardware stores to see what sort of things they sell. I might also strike a conversation with store staff on differences between birch and oak. There might be other brands of wood also, but birch I think is better.
By now it’s been a full month and I’m feeling pretty great. I will be a carpenter, very soon!
Advancing to the next level
It’s always important to aim for the next level. I’m not sure how much time I’ll dedicate to this, but I’m certain two weeks should be enough as the foundation is already set.
I’ll go to at least two user group meetings, I think carpenters have those too. Hanging around with master carpenters, and maybe attending a demo or two will surely rub off some skills for me too. I’ll just have to be careful not to attend any of those IKEA sponsored get-togethers, as I won’t be working on mass-produced stuff – my carpentry skills will be unique and they’ll be used to produce unique results!
By the end of the second week, I’ll update my résumé, and start proactively waiting for job offers. Surely someone somewhere needs a fresh, but eager carpenter to work on a solid block of wood!
If only I’d known it was this easy, I’d done this 26 years ago!
As you might have guessed, I’m not a carpenter. I’d like to be, but I’m not and most definitely won’t be until the day I retire. I simply don’t have the resources, time or energy in my 40’s – and I love working in IT too much.
I meet bright and eager people wanting to work in IT, almost every week. Sometimes I have the luxury of spending several days with younger (or older) people about to start their career in IT, and I love it. I try to instill as much of my experiences, the things that work, and the things that don’t work in hopes of making people more successful. And happy. That’s important.
Not a single person I’ve met in all my years as a trainer, consultant and advisor have said they’ll become IT Pros, or developers, or architects in 4 or 6 weeks. Or even 12. It’s more the opposite – “do I need to study all of this?”, and “do I have to type the whole command or can I just copy-paste it?” are commonly heard during the very first days of ramp-up training I’ve delivered.
I sometimes meet these people a year or two later. They’ve become junior consultants, or developers or something similar. I can see the spark in their eyes; “there’s so much cool stuff I get to learn!” is an occasional phrase before they crack open Visual Studio Code to show me something really cool.
My point is the following.
Working in modern IT as a techie – either as a developer, consultant, IT Pro, architect or something similar is amazingly hard and challenging. It’s continuous learning, never-ending challenges and a constant, nagging feeling of not knowing enough and needing to become a little bit better.
It’s unbelievably disheartening to have someone say they’ve attended a 4-week crash course on C# for two hours a day and are now cloud architects and developers.
I’m old school. When I grew up, you either did computers as a hobby, or you didn’t. And if you did, you kind of knew already as a teenager you’d end up working with computers. It’s never too late to start a career in IT, but it won’t be easy. And the skills you need to accumulate to be successful require years of meticulous learning and hands-on applying in real projects.
I mean no ill intent for anyone wanting to start in IT. Just be realistic – if it was easy, everyone would do it. But it’s hard and challenging and tough. But also much fun, and very rewarding. I generally recommend it as a career, but it will be more than a few weeks of studying. It’s a life-long journey, where every year you realize there’s so much more to learn and you need to learn faster than before.
By the way, am I too old to become a professional gymnastic? I can do a handstand if assisted.
I work with Azure and frequently write about my experiences. Former Microsoft Most Valuable Professional & Microsoft Regional Director, ex-MSFT. Based in Helsinki, Finland.