Halfway around the world, my fingers resting on a keyboard belonging to a massive and chunky laptop from the mid-90s – that was my first taste of IT.
My dad, a senior software engineer at the time, introduced me to things that back then were so new – chunky laptops and basic applications such as Excel, mobile phones with a green screen, and the new-fangled flip phones that included an antenna – and I found myself enjoying the journey of discovery, of finding out how things worked and marvelling at the wonders of modern technology.
Fast-forward 10 years, the Asian stereotype of choosing one’s future career as a doctor or lawyer was well and truly on my shoulders. I found myself tuning in and out of chemistry class, with experiments not making much sense to me. Books were my friend but not so much that I would pore through manuals several hundreds of pages long.
Nearly flunking that chemistry class caused a change of heart in me. Over time, I found myself realising that following after my father was something that appealed to me, having been envious of his ever-evolving business and technical knowledge and stamp-filled passport.
My journey in IT might have started early, yet it took me a long time to figure out that IT was it. Five years after university – in a stable job that provides flexibility and other perks – I am strongly embracing what IT means to me. It’s brought me into a world that I never would have known otherwise, and given me a place where I belong.
Without fail, IT is changing how we do things – from computers, to tablets, to phones, and now VR (Virtual Reality). IT is the driving force behind driverless cars. IT allows us to share our photos and videos in real time to our friends and family. IT is the foundation of how banks operate today. IT is what supports every single company, time and time again, and IT is integrated with our daily lives so much that many of us could not ever imagine life without it.
Just like IT supports them, IT also supports you and me. IT is normally seen as technical support or manning the helpdesk phones, but there is so much more to it than that – you can be managing and contributing to websites and social media, you can be scientifically and systematically reviewing data, you can be on the trail of a criminal (person or computer bug) or protect organisations from cyber-espionage, and you can even use your IT knowledge to empower the next generation of girls. In my case, I’m a referee on the sidelines of a very intense match able to enforce the procedures and practices as I deem necessary.
Ultimately, I love IT because being part of it means I’m part of a global force changing and innovating every other industry. Every single company I have worked with – I have been involved in something different, worked with some amazing people, learned something new, and got the chance to contribute to many other departments and teams at the same time.
The IT of 50 years ago is gone – today’s IT is focussing on collaboration, embracing people from all different walks of life, diversity in the workforce, and removing the stereotypes that exist. Today’s IT is not about the geek clubs and the ‘pizza and beer’ or ‘dark corner’ image, it’s all about planning and implementing for tomorrow. For you – the next generation – and the generation after that.
IT is my passport to the world – and it could be yours, too.