Four years ago I had an epiphany that started my on a path to a career in psychology. I found myself re-enrolling in college, and thought that I was taking my first steps away from a career in Information Technology. During those four years I worked on a B.S. in Psycholgy and prepared myself to go to graduate school. I completed the degree in December, and have been in the process of applying to graduate programs for months. Recently, my plans took an unexpected, though welcomed, turn. With a baby due in October, starting graduate school in the September didn’t seem like the best plan for my family’s or my mental and physical well being. As such I have begun to evaluate possible career paths within IT.
What struck me about Information Technology four years ago was that IT is a tool, a medium for conveying information. There are two distinct parts of IT, information, and technology. For many people learning the technology is an end unto itself. I was like that for a while. I enjoyed learning how things worked, and loved building computers, breaking stuff, then making it work again. I also enjoyed the challenges of programming and developing. I espcially enjoyed working on websites, and played around with designing and developing numerous versions of personal websites. As I developed websites though, I realized that no matter how cool the site looked, or what nifty functions it had, I really wasn’t contributing anything worthwhile. It was actually quite depressing for me, thinking that I had learned all of this stuff to help other people deliver their message to the world, yet I didn’t have anything to say.
It was about this time that the aforementioned epiphany struck and I returned to school. My psychology studies have given me that opportunity to contribute meaningful information to the world. The research I am working on has the potential to help people lead better lives. I am quite proud to be a part of it and for taking the tentative first steps in that direction.
The reason I mention all of this is that with four years of study, and especially the last year of research, I better understand how technology can help me and those in my field to more efficiently conduct research, analyze data, and contribute to the body of knowledge avaiable to the mental health practitioners and the public. I think I have made an excellent transition from learning the technology for it’s own sake, to learning how to use technology as a tool for making a lasting contribution.