Everyone working in IT has heard it before: “You’re in the right field.” or “You’re in the right place at the right time, IT is booming.”  There’s no doubt that IT is in fact the place to be in today’s world. School of Information Studies Professor Anthony Rotolo recently tweeted: #NewRule: It is no longer acceptable to say, “I’m not a technology person.”

The truth is, you’re a technologist if you know how to use your iPhone, if you can’t live without your laptop, and if you check social media more than you’d like to admit, you’re a technology person.

While it’s important to find your niche in the vast field of IT, it’s also important to be well-rounded. Not only do well-rounded technologists stand out in a pile of resumes, but you’ll be able to do, make, code, and organize projects that weren’t even thought of five years ago. Part of IT is always thinking of the next best thing. Being knowledgeable about code, design, organization, development, and testing are all key parts of being a knockout in the tech world.

Talk The Talk

IT is filled with protocols and acronyms that are constantly thrown around. “Did you set up the FTP client? Make sure there’s an SSL certificate on the site and don’t let the DNS server fail under any circumstances.” For people outside of IT, these letters are alphabet soup among other mind-boggling concepts. For an average person, going on the Internet is just opening a web browser. But for technologists, it’s about using DCHP to retrieve an IP address, connecting to an AP, etc., etc. Even if you don’t know how to set up an FTP client or a DNS server, it’s important to talk the talk and to actually know what you’re talking about. Nothing is more frustrating than someone who thinks they know what’s going on and ends up creating a technological mess. As a technologist, it’s important to know what’s going on and articulate it in a way that’s easy to understand, but also accurate.

Know The Code

Knowing how to code is one thing, but knowing about code is something completely different. Learning different programming languages and utilizing them is an undoubtedly great asset to have as a technologist. However, it’s not for everyone. Personally, I know a bit of a few coding languages. I can make a basic website and database and can recognize differences between languages. I know which languages serve which purposes but I don’t know enough (yet) to build my own product or service. The beauty of IT is that I don’t need to know this. While it’d be a great help if I did, I know enough to talk to developers about their style, the way they code, why they chose the languages they did, and how to read through code and understand it. Understanding can allow me to work more closely with developers than the average person but also understand the processes behind building a product. That in itself is incredibly valuable.

Know Project Management

You may know how about IT acronyms and how to code, but it may not go anywhere if you don’t know how to manage it all. Information is all around us, and it’s quite overwhelming to think of the information you can get with a few clicks and a couple of keystrokes. People are building all the time, and it requires a lot of managing and cycles before something is done right. Managing technological projects can be tough; it requires working with technologists and business folk alike to get something done. It’s important to know how to work with both parties and talk to them in a language each of them understands. Knowing both sides and connecting them can be difficult, but it pays off if it’s done correctly.

IT’s cross between management and technology, which used to be two completely different worlds, is now more ubiquitous than ever. Enthusiasts are bridging the gap between these two fields and creating innovative products and services that were previously unheard of. Even though some people gravitate towards the more technological side while others are interested in project management, knowing what’s on the other side and how to manage these two types of people can make you an incredibly valuable asset to any project team or company. It doesn’t hurt to have a strong area of interest or talent, but make sure you can back it up on the other side of IT too.

What other skills do you think a well-rounded technologist needs?  Share your thoughts in the comments.