By Kathryn Magura
Happy Monday everyone! Today’s blog prompt is one that resonates with me, because it allows me to share my accidental journey into the world of technology.
How do you get into the technology field without a background in technology?
Well, the honest answer to this question is quite simply: you get out there and do it! Not quite as helpful as you hoped? Well, let me share my story with you then. I went to college knowing I would receive a degree in some sort of Liberal Arts area. I was drawn to Psychology, so I pursued that as my major. Early on in college, I remember meeting with an academic advisor to determine if I wanted to go for a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences. The gist was: a Bachelor of Arts required a second language, and a Bachelor of Science required computer classes and more science classes.
For me, there was no real decision to make. I had taken German in high school, and figured I would take a couple of years of it at the college level and fulfill my Bachelor of Arts requirements. Why on earth would I put myself through the rigors of a Bachelor of Science degree when I refused to take computer classes. That’s right, I refused to take computer classes.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my computer. I had been surfing the internet before it was really in style. My family had also had a computer for my brother and I to write our high school papers on way before many other families could afford one. That said, the actual technology behind computers scared me. I’m not sure when I came to this conclusion, but it seemed like I had always known I was never good with technology.
In retrospect, it seems really sad that I never trusted my abilities when it came to technology. Even when I had always had a natural ability to learn and use a variety of technologies. I was always the one to program our family VCR growing up, and had even helped my father (the engineer, it should be noted) reprogram his air conditioner when it wasn’t working right. Yet for some reason, I always felt dumb when in came to computers.
My senior year of college, I had the opportunity to work in the Housing office. While the work focused heavily on customer service, it also required me to use the University information system and Microsoft excel a lot. I was fearful of looking dumb for not knowing how to use the technology, but I jumped right in with an eagerness to learn. As I started to learn the ropes, I was surprised to see what a natural I was with the technology. Not only did I pick up the systems with ease, I was able to train others! Where the heck did this ability come from?
Flash forward a few years to about a week ago. One of our resident directors needed some help pulling data together for a meeting. I had some time available in my calendar, so I invited him over for a lesson on the greatness of excel. As I was pulling the data together from the University data warehousing system, I could see his jaw sort of frozen as I swiftly shifted from one screen to the next (side note, dual monitors are a true godsend) to capture all the data needed. I then switched over to excel where we put the data into pivot tables, charts and graphs.
As I was training, I could hear the excitement in my voice. Who knew I could get so excited by a pivot table?? I even took time to send out this tweet:
After we had pulled all the data needed together for the meeting, the RD looked at me (a little glazed over. Whoops.) and asked if I had always been this good with technology. I simply stated that no, I had not been, and had actually been afraid of it for the longest time. It took pushing myself past my comfort zone by just getting in there and using it for me to actually learn that I was indeed quite skilled with technology.
My point in sharing this story is to encourage others to take the technology leap. Get out there and test the waters! Don’t feel comfortable with the Microsoft Office suite? Get out there and take a training course! Most are either free or inexpensive. There may also be people out there willing to share their knowledge with you, if you are willing to seek them out. Trust me, if I can get over my own fear of using technology you can too!
So what’s your technology story? What advice do you have for others who want to get into the field of technology?