Hey Parents: There's an IM in STEM Careers

Hey Parents: There’s an IM in STEM careers

I talk to lots of parents and their high school students about majors and careers in technology and frequently I find that they need a boost in grasping the broad range of career options in this field. In particular, I am always surprised by how pervasive the stereotypes are: “My son or daughter really does not want to sit behind a computer writing code eight hours a day,” is a concern I hear a lot.

Well, I’m here with three pieces of good news:

  1. The vast majority of jobs in the technology professions include little or no software development;
  2. In many technology jobs, professionals spend at least as much time interacting with people as they do with computers; and
  3. Mobile devices and always-available Internet has totally upended the nature of the typical eight-hour-a-day office job.

Perhaps that last one is not all good news – some people like going home and leaving their job behind – but the point is that many contemporary jobs in the technology fields are flexible, dynamic, and mobile.

indeed-imSo let’s set aside jobs that are mainly coding and see what we have left. I consulted the jobs website known as “Indeed” and simply typed in the keywords “information management.” The result showed 704,994 jobs, across every metropolitan area of the U.S., with most salaries in excess of $60k and many in excess of $80k. Examples included jobs like IT manager at a large-scale fulfillment center in New Jersey that requires experience with communication, project management, and leadership, as well as knowledge of technology such as networking and systems administration.

Let’s pick that job a part a little more. We’re talking about a technology professional, who understands how various kinds of information technology work in order to solve real business problems in an environment where technology serves the information needs of the employees who work there. People come first in this scenario, followed by information needs, with technology providing the foundation. No coding necessary and certainly no sitting behind a computer eight hours a day.

Now you might be wondering how your daughter or son can get a start in the promising area of information management and technology, and more specifically what college majors may lead to a fulfilling career in this profession. My suggestion would be to search using these three keywords: “bachelors information management.” The field of Information Management is a relative newcomer in the world of technology majors, but it is the most responsive to the need for professionals who can put their people skills together with their technology knowledge. Information Management provides breadth, depth, and flexibility in that students can choose their tech focus area – networks, databases, security, cloud, big data – while making sure to get a strong education in project management, teamwork, communications, problem solving, and leadership.

STEM careers get a lot of press these days, but not every high school student wants to study science, engineering, or math in college. The technology fields provide a wide array of options both for college majors and for careers after graduation. Information Management is a promising option for the student who likes technology but who wants fulfilling and meaningful work interacting with people and solving challenging problems.

Jeffrey M. Stanton

Jeffrey M. Stanton, Ph.D. is Interim Dean and Professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. Dr. Stanton’s research focuses on organizational behavior and technology. He is co-author of The Visible Employee: Using Workplace Monitoring and Surveillance to Protect Information Assets – Without Compromising Employee Privacy or Trust and Information Nation: Educating the Next Generation of Information Professionals. Dr. Stanton is also the author of an open source electronic textbook entitled Introduction to Data Science, which is published through the iTunes Bookstore.

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