When I began playing with computers, back in the late 80s and early 90s computing was exciting, (Basic by today’s standards I agree, but exciting non the less). In order to do anything with a computer you had to learn how it worked, but the TV was awash with adverts for weekly computer programming magazines for all the different home computers and you could even see your home computer (well I could as I had a BBC Master) on BBC TV programs such as Tomorrow’s World, with other home computers being promoted on their ability to do fancy TV graphics ( Amiga A4000 and Acorn Archimedes). [ I even found out (by accident) that the Amiga A400 did the Virtual Reality action adventure games in all the Scottish 90’s arcades]
Then I went to college and I learnt about programming Windows and Unix. Turbo Pascal was my favourite language at the time and I was desperate to learn more about Assembly language in order to take advantage of the enhanced memory and graphics capabilities of the newer XT PCs. Unfortunately instead I got maths, 4GL (4th generation languages – ie database languages such as SQL and the like) and COBOL. These boring business languages meant that I lost interest and ever completed my HND in computing (in those days there was only one HND, now there are several specialising in networking, hardware multimedia and loads more). My interest in graphics, hardware and 3D wasn’t an option unless I went to university and I wasn’t the type of kid that went that route after school.
I left college and after a while working in retail, I got my first IT role in Scotland where I got to build, repair and upgrade PCs install software, diagnose faults, run data cabling, install networking ( hubs, routers, bridges) even down to repairing printers, fax machines and purchasing consumables (floppy disks, ink, toner, [re]Writable CDs and anything else that was needed). Life was good, exciting, challenging but the boss had plans for me which conflicted with my own views, so I had to leave.
Then I worked in the grey environment of a National banking chain, my fellow staff were the only thing that got me through the high pressure but mundanity existence, until the day I left to start my life and again enjoy computing by running my own company.
Anyone who has run their own company will know it’s fun, hard work, rewarding but sometimes it doesn’t work out. Unfortunately that’s what happened to me, too many big dreams but not enough experience or money, all at a time when an internet connection cost £1k per month and the internet had not quite taken the imagination of Scotland, with businesses who could not see past the phone and the fax machine into the oncoming internet connected world.
Now, after several different roles for many different organisations, I presently find myself stuck in the horrid grey world of Windows PC hell, in an organisation that has a distrust, dislike and colleagues that have a hate of, anything and everything Apple.
My attempts to escape to somewhere more forward thinking, dynamic and creative, with an Apple slant or at least less of a corporate straight jacket, have so far failed and I wonder if it’s just me?
Or is it?
One of my close colleagues has a repeating cycle of having issues with his personal life, after which he throws himself into his work with a drive, only to return to the realisation that he is bored with IT support. Then I look at the rest of the staff, we have budding musicians & singers throughout, not many of the staff started wanting to be IT support staff, some have even had some fame before falling from grace, only to land here.
Even one of the guys that I went to high school with, has left his IT role with a bank to take up photography in order to pay his bills as he self publishes his novels on Amazon.
Even looking at my dream job, working for Apple in one of their Apple Stores. Apple openly promote that their Apple Store staff are musicians, DJs,
Artists, Photographers and much more besides, no mention of the highly
skilled IT staff that create amazing solutions for business, entertainment venues, bars, clubs etc. Apple, whilst being an amazingly creative organisation producing some astoundingly amazing and beautiful products (and I include the software not just the hardware) do not promote their support staff as being creative with IT in their work role, or maybe I’ve missed something.
So is everyone in IT support really there because they like the job or is it just a stock gap and where are the exciting IT positions, do they exist or are they just the gold at the end of the rainbow that you are always chasing but can never possibly lay your hands on?