Orin Thomas recently told me that the average IT Pro, in the Microsoft world, is 43 years old. Makes some sense; younger kids tend to be attracted to younger companies, and younger companies are largely deploying Linux for their big dot-com-startup projects (which is why Microsoft ?? Linux all of a sudden). So there are fewer young people getting into Microsoft-centric IT Ops.
And so we’re having a midlife career crisis.
We, as IT operations professionals, are seriously starting to exhibit some of the classic signs of age. Oh, not all of you, to be sure – but plenty of us. In fact, the ones who aren’t are really starting to stand out from the larger pack.
We don’t like change. Any change. We’ve figured out how to run our environments, we’ve got them basically running smoothly and reliably, and we’re completely uninterested in disrupting that. Are some of our job tasks boring and menial? Sure, but we get paid the same either way. We’ll just keep clicking “next” until it’s time to retire. It’s fine.
We really don’t like paradigm changes. Hybrid cloud? Yeah, whatever, I can come up with fifty reasons why my company “can’t” do cloud without even breaking a sweat.
We don’t agitate. We’re honestly not all that passionate about our jobs anymore – it’s something we do to get paid, it’s pretty comfortable, and we’ve basically figured it out. So we’re not pressing our company leadership too hard to do new, cutting-edge things. We know they’ll just say “no,” anyway, and it’s easier just to go with the flow.
We don’t punish bad employers by quitting. In your mid forties, we feel, is not a good time to be striking out for a new job. So we put up with badly run environments, misguided CIOs, and out of date technologies, because it’s easier and safer than finding somewhere better to work. And since we’re not punishing them by denying them quality IT people, these badly run companies keep doing it.
I’m not suggesting that there’s a solution, here. I’m not entirely suggesting there’s even a problem. I’m saying it’s a situation, and if you’re in it, you at least need to acknowledge it to yourself. If you acknowledge it and decide, “yeah, fine, I’ll just go get a shiny red two-seater Xbox and keep doing what I’m doing,” fine. If that’s your thing, you go, girl. But a few of you may decide that Life Inertia can be overcome through a sufficient application of force – and decide to shake off your midlife career crisis and change. Change your tech. Change your job. Hell, change your career, if that’s what’s right for you.
All I’m saying is, choose to remain settled into a groove, if that’s where you are, or choose to lever yourself out of it. Don’t just let life occur. Get in the driver’s seat.