It takes a special kind of person to take on the challenge of building a career in a field where change is the norm, pressure is everywhere, and on your best day, your organization is looked at as a necessary evil.

I think some people are just wired to not take the easy path. We select harder majors in college, we take on roles early in our career where we constantly have users tell us what they don’t like about the tools they use, that they want everything faster, cheaper, and more like the consumer apps they use. We jump through hoops to find that never quite perfect balance between scope, budget, and timeline. And at many points in our career, no matter what we do, we are constantly running in a hamster wheel to secure funding, protect resources, and keep understaffed, overworked team members motivated.

Given all that, it begs the question, why do we do it? Why do we stay in this sometimes thankless profession? I couldn’t quite put it into words, so I used a lifeline and polled a number of colleagues with 15+ years in IT, and here’s what I heard:

  1. The challenge: There is always an opportunity to make something better in IT. Always new technology to assess and implement, always a new version to upgrade to, always an issue with a platform, or always something new that our internal customers want. It’s like a never ending puzzle to solve.
  2. The variety: Every day is different in the land of IT and provides an ever present chance to learn new things. I think I’d get bored in another profession that didn’t change so much ALL the time.
  3. The “customers”: I love being able to help someone use technology to accomplish whatever goal they are trying to achieve. It’s amazingly rewarding and never gets old.
  4. The people: IT people are smart, forward thinking, collaborative, hardworking resources that have one common goal: meet the goals of the internal customer. We are outcome based and relish in the fruits of our labor when we drive initiatives to completion.
  5. It’s kind of ironic that some of the same factors that make IT careers hard: challenging work, pace of change, and demanding customers, are the same factors that make us love what we do, and keep doing it. Most importantly though, we do it because we all have the same DNA, our IT colleagues are “our tribe” and working with them makes it all worthwhile.

If you’re in IT or the tech industry in general, what’s your reason for staying?