Michael S. Dotson
Title: Director of technical programs, professional development department
Company: Florida Institute of Technology
Years in IT: 5 years
Career advice: When trying to enter or advance in the IT field, generalization is the key, not specialization. Modern firms need and desire people who can help them integrate multiple cutting-edge and legacy systems to serve multiple needs. Rather than limiting your expertise to one field, extend your knowledge and learn a little about as many areas as possible.
Don’t forget the “soft skills.” Many individuals spend all their time focusing on technical skills, neglecting the value of sharpening their soft skills. Today’s IT professional no longer fits the outdated geek stereotype of the past. Therefore, in addition to hard technical skills, IT professionals should master communication and business skills, diplomacy, common sense, and professionalism in order to succeed in a modern IT environment. And most importantly, IT professionals should stay on top of their field by continuing their education at every possible opportunity.
Biggest career challenge: Building and fine-tuning successful certification and technical training programs that provide marketable skills. We wanted to meet the needs of local IT organizations and, at the same time, attract and meet the needs of the non-technical community wishing to enter the IT field.
Our program began five years ago, and our relationships with firms both locally and nationwide have helped us continually improve and fine-tune our training programs. The blending of our programs to meet the needs of the IT industry has developed into a phenomenal placement success, not only with nontechnical people, but also with employees sent for continuing IT education. The number and volume of technical training programs at our site has grown 500% in five years, with a current graduate IT placement rate of 94%.
Last two books read: Knots, by R.D. Laing; and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
Favorite quote: All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.
—T. E. Lawrence