"IT is boring," scoff students

"IT is boring," scoff students

Summary: Undergraduate students think IT work is repetitive and boring, and that they'd do better in other fields. Are they onto something, or has IT's PR crisis really gotten this bad?


Have you heard this one before? College students or Millennials, what have you, think IT is Dullsville. They don't think that that an IT-based degree has benefits. They're pretty sure they'll have better opportunities in other fields. They think that they'll work with more interesting people outside IT. They're worried about what other people will think if they go to work in IT.

These are the results of a study released this week by a UK research group, the Career Development Organization, in which more than 60 percent of the undergraduate students surveyed said they found IT work boring. And if it sounds familiar, it is likely because the IT field has suffered from an image crisis of epic proportions since the turn of the century.

Though the biggest strikes against IT's reputation have come in the forms of the dot-com bust and cost-containment outsourcing, both of which did wonders to convince parents that IT was not a safe place for their children to steer their careers, not all of the damage has been wrought by outside forces.

College students have the perception that IT work is uninspiring, or Dilbert-ized, results that the CDO study underscored. Students expected IT jobs to be repetitive and boring, "being stuck on a computer" fielding help desk calls and not doing cutting edge or dynamic work. Unsurprisingly, they weren't particularly eager to sign up.

Some wonder if the shine is simply off the apple.

"Cost cutting, outsourcing, organizational politics, and other constraints have taken away most of the fun [from enterprise IT]," says Bruce Skaistis, an IT consultant. "I suspect a high percentage of enterprise ITers would probably choose a different career path if they could go back and start their careers over."

Yet others have argued that IT employers need to come back with a multi-point attack to counteract the field's PR troubles, showing students what IT work can really be like.

"Students believe employers can raise their game when it comes to on-campus and other attraction and recruitment activities," concluded the study, noting that nearly half of the undergraduate students in the CDO study had never come into contact with an IT employer and said that they were not made aware of IT vacancies.

Meanwhile, the BLS has weighed in with its own salient numbers; the IT workforce is expected to grow at more than double the rate of the rest of the workforce before 2016, and add one million new jobs between 2004 and 2014, or far less than universities are pipelining in.

Topic: CXO

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  • IT is like any other career.

    Some of it is interesting and some of it is boring. There is also a misconception that once you have a degree in computer science you are automatically the cats meow. That is, IT graduates don't believe they need to pay their dues. The feel they should start at the top of the food chain. No profession offers that luxury, and it shouldn't.

    Just like any other profession, you don't get good at it in school. You get good at it with experience. Simple degrees and certifications are only stepping stones. And as with other professions, students can expect to get the grunt work and the work no one else wants to do until they have paid their dues.

    A career in IT is no fairy tale. If it was then it wouldn't be a career worth having.
    • So that's why everybody wants to be a CEO!

  • Management get what they pay for

    "Aggressive cost cutting moves" do have a way of shrinking the supply and that's really the issue.
    John L. Ries
  • RE: No...

    Well, as a computer programmer for a military defense contractor, and previously working for the 2nd pharmacy chain in the USA, work is not repetitive. Whether it's meeting, support, design, programming, testing, etc - everyday is different and I love it.

    Also, all jobs are repetitive.
  • Since I don't hang around with Millenials, I can't say one way or another.

    I will say that offshoring HAS turned lots of people off of IT, and pretty much any other field that requires study and in turn pays well because, let's face it, data integrity and its ramifications should never come cheap. Right?

    And, no, work is NOT always fun. But it sure as heck should pay a proper wage if the workers ever want to repay loans, feel valued, and so on, for the valuable work they provide. And who wants to be a perpetual debt slave? We're still a society, aren't we?

    Meanwhile, let's all talk about why so many homes are going into foreclosure and stores going out of business. Try to make it sound as if offshoring isn't a factor whatsoever. Good luck.
  • IT doen't matter

    There is no future in IT.

    1) It is going to be outsourced and the data center is going to be hosted off-site

    2) IT is mostly point and click. No need for many IT workers

    3) Half of the people in IT do not have a Degree. Professions with a future like engineering, education and medicine have higher standards and qualities and therefore all practitioners must have at least a Degree.

    4) IT is reduces to a commodity or maintenance level part of business.

    There are also many research done into this subject for example: "IT doesn't matter" and "The End of Corportate Computing" by Nicholas Carr
    • ...

      What a joke and just another dooms-day theory. There will always be the need for programmers, security officers, network engineers, etc.
    • Last time I checked, jobs from graphic designers to engineering are being


      Even the legal industry is starting to go offshore. That'll really be fun to watch...
    • re: IT doesn't matter

      1) Depends on the company and offsite hosting may/may not be the most desirable option for companies.
      2) What part are you referring to here. Technology changes frequently more so than almost any other service oriented field. If you are outsourcing everything then I guess you could call that point to your pocket book, click, and pay. That doesn't mean the outsourcing company points and clicks.
      3) Higher standards <> degree. It's just a cop out for execs to rationalize the money they spent on a degree. Truth is by the time you get to be a senior level IT professional the degree isn't worth the paper it's written on. Unlike most professions, IT changes significantly every couple of years so the things taught in school aren't necessarily applicable the day of graduation. The algorithmic portions and the business parts don't change much but the actual technology does which means you need more than a suit to do the work.

      4) IT shouldn't be the driving force behind a company it is a service to the company that is a negative as it relates to the business but how much of a negative largely depends on management and right choices in staffing.
  • Did you actually *read* the report?

    From the report's executive summary:
    "Up to 90% of computing students do want to work in IT,
    and females are even more committed than male students."

    The 60% percent of people who expected IT work to be boring was in fact %60 of those people who already didn't want to work in IT