"IT is boring," scoff students

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?
Written by Deb Perelman, Contributor

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.

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