Gen Z has an IT Problem: How to Turn Unofficial Side-Work into Career Development
Discover how Gen Z can leverage their unofficial tech-support role as a stepping stone for career development 🚀
Gen Z employees are presumed to be highly tech-savvy. As a result, they find themselves being treated like the resident IT person, even if IT work isn’t in their job description. As a result, non-tech-savvy colleagues are quick to ask a young person for help. They see it as a way to fix their problem in 5 minutes, whereas calling IT or figuring it out themselves could take an hour. So, it’s best for everyone to just ask you, right? Well, if you are a young person or recent graduate who is just starting to build their career, the answer is NO.
To advance through promotions, you need to do two things:
- Excel at your own role. This means meeting or exceeding all of your job expectations and any KPIs you might have.
- Take on “stretch projects.” These are projects or working groups that will help you gain the skills and experience required for the higher-level position you are aiming for.
That means that in any given week, you need to complete all your own work with enough time leftover to take on side projects. This is partly why it’s so hard to move up — you need to be so efficient in your work that you can excel at your job in only 75% of the allotted time, allowing you to spend 25% doing more work. On top of this, you need to build a reputation as a great team player.
Now, imagine you are the de facto tech expert in your area. Every time you’re pulled away from your work to solve someone’s “quick problem,” there’s a mental and physical setup time that turns any 10-minute task into a 30-minute task. So if you have 7 hours of work time in a day, each instance of support kills nearly 10% of your workday. Now imagine you get a reputation for being “good at fixing things,” and that number will multiply.
Let’s be clear — you are not obliged to fix people’s tech stuff. You can say, “I’m sorry, I’m swamped and I’m not able to help.” However, this article is for people who want to move up in their careers, in which case it’s better to try and turn this into a…