I was blessed to grow up in East Boston, Mass., and because of that, I’m a Red Sox fan. Like millions of other Sox faithful, I’ve suffered the Curse of the Bambino and seen some truly heart-rending moments when, against all odds, my team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Moments like the '75 World Series loss to Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, the epic collapse of '78, when the Sox lost 14 of 17 games to blow a 7.5 game lead in September, and, of course, Buckner’s Boot in the '86 Series.
My first memory of attending a live game was Oct. 12, 1967 — the seventh game of the World Series between the Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. My father had somehow scraped up three tickets and told me and my brother to skip school that day because we were going to Fenway. I could barely contain my excitement; I was going to see Boston win the Series. Victory was certain because Jim Lonborg, our ace and Cy Young Award winner, was pitching.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals sent the immortal Bob Gibson to the mound. He was dominating, throwing a complete game, giving up just three hits and striking out 10. To add insult to injury, he hit a two-run homer. I cried that day, and many another time as well, until 2004 when my boys won it all.
As a mature baseball fan, I’ve come to admire and appreciate Gibson’s talent and accomplishments. Over the course of a 17-year successful career, he was a nine-time All-Star, won the Cy Young Award twice, and ended up in the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Gibson’s success was the result of hard work and a well-rounded set of skills. He was also known for intense on-field focus. “When I was playing," he once said, "I never wished I was doing anything else.”
Excelling at our Nation’s Pastime (I don’t care what the NFL says) requires dedication and a balancing of athletic skills and knowledge. It’s the same if you want to succeed in IT: You will need to develop your skills in different areas, and that comes through career-long dedication.
Solid IT skills aren’t enough for a successful career. You will need some crucial soft skills. According to an analysis of 13,618 job postings from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers are focused on hiring skilled IT candidates who possess the following soft-skills:
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Problem solving
- Project management
- Microsoft Windows
- Customer service
Just like a ball player regularly works on all parts of their game, IT pros need to constantly work on all aspects of their career development. Employers continually bemoan the absence of oral and written communication skills, a general inability to problem solve, and an abysmal understanding of customer service, all on the part of today's young job seekers. Potential employees who do have those skills will find an easier path to full-time employment.
Soft-skills don’t just happen, of course — you must work at them. There are a number of ways to go develop these skills: If you’re in college, take a few classes outside your major, read books other than IT, and volunteer for more responsibility at work to help grow your management skills. One of the best ways to progress in these areas, and in your career, is to find an IT mentor. Latch on to someone you respect. Develop a relationship and observe how they handle problems and work with others.
You may never be famous (or bring the high heat) like Gibson, but with a bit of focus on developing soft skills you will stand a greater chance of becoming an IT success story.
About the Author — Calvin Harper is an associate editor for GoCertify and a veteran of the publishing industry. Shhhh! Calvin doesn't know that more American kids play soccer than either baseball OR football.