Jidaw Systems

The King in Work Experience - the real value in Information Technology

While training and certification help individuals acquire relevant skills and knowledge, work experience can't be ignored in the Information Technology (IT) field. There's no substitute for the experience of solving real-world problems. Most of the skills and knowledge of utilized by IT professionals are gained through practical experience. Certification and degrees alone cannot give an individual the IT competences required by the market.

The Limits of Qualifications

Certification demonstrates basic technical competence and currency, but relying solely on technical skills as well as amassing multiple certifications could be wasteful and disastrous.  Certifications and degrees do not make a career. Multiple certifications are not a career. You don't become a network administrator by acquiring numerous network certifications.

Qualifications are no substitutes for experience. In the real world, you often have to get your hands dirty to gain important knowledge that is not tested in any exam The market needs more practical - experience-based - skills. Networking, Tech support, Web, Database or Programming? To be relevant in meeting fast changing local and global market needs, qualifications alone will not do. Knowledge alone too won't do. Certificates have no value if you can't contribute. The importance of practical, experience-based skills in an economy driven by knowledge and competence must be acknowledged.

The Quality train

Experience is king? Not quite. Experience isn't the position the person occupies, neither is it only about the number of years spent on the job. The nature and quality of experience is what matters. Competence is about skills (IT/Technical and soft) developed - over the years in terms of effectiveness and capabilities. It is about the value you bring to the table. Quality of experience is reflected in the ability to provide solutions quickly and creatively. Experience is useful when skills acquired will meet present and future needs. Quality is the main issue. Any else is secondary. Quality experience makes it possible for the professional to learn useful and result-oriented concepts that cannot be fully taught or experienced in books or the classroom.

Quality is also about issues of ethics and professionalism. Several years of experience amounts to very little if trust and integrity are lacking. The technology profession is well respected in society but you still need to create your own path. Trust is important. You've got the sophisticated Linux know-how but can you be trusted? No trust means no professionalism, no respect and no career. How do you communicate and interact with others. Will you treat colleagues, clients and employers with respect? Do you help and encourage others? You know the Java stuff, you've got the certs but how courteous are you in making your demands? Respect isn't just about titles or positions.  Furthermore will you stand up for what is right, even if the crowd differs? Building a career requires more than knowledge and skills. Expertise can't go very far with cowardice at the forefront.


One of the biggest challenges facing newcomers to the profession is getting the right practical experience. Most advertised and obvious IT opportunities seem to be for experienced professionals. For newcomers, getting a foot in the door therefore requires initiative. Newcomers often need to apply creative solutions to get the experience they need. Read more about Experience Tips for newcomers


Good jobs and newcomers

Good jobs are the target of most who invest in acquiring ICT skills and qualifications through degree and training programs. However, there is a need for more clarity on the part of IT professionals on what constitutes a "good job". There is a tendency to focus only on the obvious and tangible issues such as salary, work location, working hours, vacation time, employee benefits and other aspects of the working environment. Career development however involves more important intangibles. For instance what is money without growth? The riddle of the well fed, well paid slave? What will the experience give in terms of future opportunities within the work environment or externally? Will the experience be routine and mundane, or will there be opportunities for new challenges?

For example, what are the technologies and tools being used in the workplace? The work experience (technologies, tools, applications, processes) should interest and excite the professional.

What is your WHY? 

Your focus must come first. Why are you working? Why do you seek work experience? What can you offer? Are you just following the merciless grinding beat of "follow-the-bandwagon"? Have you considered entrepreneurship? Is your right value judgment right? What is boring to one person may be exciting to another person. Determine exactly what you want to gain from your work experience. Ignore the noise in the environment. Get past the "fat-salary-show-me-the-money" syndrome. People can't work at their best when they work in jobs they dislike. Set realistic goals and targets. What are your technical goals? What are your soft/people skills targets? Will you get to work with technologies that are up-to-date and effective? What is the real value of experience if you keep doing the same thing everyday? Does the organization reinvest in its people? What opportunities exist to maintain skills, acquire more skills and keep up to date through training, certification and other knowledge activities?

Your responsibility 

Organizations you work with will have a major role in determining the quality of experience you receive. But you are primarily responsible for your growth through work experience. Plan, plan and work your plan. Focus on your priorities. Expect ups and downs. Experience is part of the journey. The journey comes with highs and lows but never forget your destination. We need challenges to grow. Experience is not an end in itself. Indeed experience is a big fat zero without initiative. Getting the job is only half the battle. Have a big picture mentality - go beyond your job requirements to add value to the company and yourself. Develop your soft skills, such as written and verbal communications, business acumen and leadership capabilities. What is experience without passion?

Lifelong Learning 

What is experience without lifelong learning? Knowledge options and experience have no long-term value in the digital age. The speed of technology industry developments is considerably faster than responses from developers of degree, certification and other learning programs. I'm amazed when people think work experience and the possession of degrees and certificates eliminates the need for further training, certification, or self-development.

Open Your Mind 

What is experience without an open and creative mind? If the conventional isn't working use the strange and unconventional to get value from your work experience. Get your mind out of the closed shops of convention. Don't allow the clouds of status quo and pay packet confuse matters. Experience isn't about counting money, ego boosting or marking time. You want a job. You love the job. But do you want to grow? Experience is only king when you can harness the potentials in the environment for growth - for quality.

All the best in your IT Career!

Jide Awe

Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com

What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this article Here 



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Mar 3, 2007

Dele Oloniyo from Lagos says:



It makes me see deeper what experience is really about and meant for. Thanks.  


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