Career Opportunities

The High-Tech Career Handbook

A weekly ComputorEdge Column by Douglas E. Welch

More than computers

January 18, 2002

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In your high-tech career it may seem that your job is merely making computers work or helping others make their computers work. In fact, your job can be much more. Your clients, especially the smaller companies, could use a good source of business information, as well as computer savvy. You could expand your career by becoming the source for this information, especially at the point where business knowledge and computer knowledge intersect.

A little advice

As you might imagine, you are not an expert in every aspect of a business, but often you develop specialties outside of your computer skills. Perhaps you have a background in purchasing, shipping or accounting. If you can combine your knowledge of these areas with your computer skills you can make yourself more marketable and expand your career. Search out clients that need your unique combination of skills. In some cases, this could open up an entirely new market for you. In these leaner times, this could mean the difference between red and black ink on your balance sheet this year.

In a personal example, I have needed to learn quite a bit about bookkeeping using Quickbooks software to manage the finances of my own business. While I am far from an accounting expert, I can offer additional assistance, beyond the workings of Quickbooks itself. I have learned the importance of matching your chart of accounts with that of your accountant and how to easily pass data off to the accountant when they need it. Nothing grand, but an additional service I can provide above and beyond simple computer skills makes me more valuable to my clients.

When people ask me for advice in moving from their current career into a high-tech career, one of the first recommendations I make is to find clients who need not only their high-tech skills but also the skills from their previous career. This can provide them an easier transition from one career to another.

Perhaps you have a marketing background and understand the ins and outs of direct mail. That knowledge, combined with your knowledge of computer databases and mailing list programs adds value to your services and makes you even more important to the company or companies for which you work.
Whatever you do, don’t oversell your skills or try to offer advice in areas you don’t know well. As I discussed few weeks ago, trust is one of the main factors that insures a long and healthy high-tech career. Leading your clients astray, even accidentally, could bring it all crashing down around your ears.

Expanding your horizons

The ability to combine business skills and computer skills can help you build your career in other ways. Perhaps you could start offering classes, workshops or seminars on your area of expertise and the computer skills necessary to make it work. Maybe you have developed your own methods of creating digital art and can share that with other artists that are looking to move into the medium. You can also research the possibility of teaming up with an expert in another field so that, together, you can provide both the business and technical skill necessary to help your clients in a one-stop shop. A good partnership can allow you to do more together than you ever could separately.

Never stop looking for opportunities to combine your interests and aptitudes. Anyone can become bored and burnt out when they focus on one element to the exclusion of all else. Combining your interests can lead you to new clients, new business, maybe even a new career. Happy people do the best work. If you find yourself loathing the morning alarm clock, maybe you need a change. What could be better than a change that not only makes you more fulfilled in your life, but also offers that possibility of expanding your career?

I am always looking for good examples to share with others through this column. If you have found a way to combine your computer skills with other interests, drop me a line at the email address below. Better yet, join the Career-Op mailing list ( and share your tips and hints with others.


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