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Contractor Spotlight with Kareem, Technical Writer

January 2018- Interview by Erica Woods, Manager of Contractor and Community Relations, Principal

“Kareem has been one of the most gracious and helpful people I’ve encountered professionally. Even during the transition as his contract period is wrapping up, he’s making everything go very smoothly and his approach has been nothing but professional and stellar.”

Kareem

In the world of IT contract work, one of the best things you can do for yourself professionally is to leave a positive legacy and lasting impression. This is exactly what Kareem, a Technical Writer at a large financial services organization, is doing as he wraps up his contract. There is no doubt he will be welcome back at the organization, have a positive reference he can add to his portfolio, and receive a warm welcome if he encounters that manager or any other stakeholders/peers he worked with in the future.

We caught up with Kareem to learn about his IT story, what he feels has set him up for success, challenges he’s encountered along the way, advice for aspiring IT professionals, and more!

How did you find yourself in the information technology field?
I actually started off as a Purchasing Assistant, but I had a passion for computers and whenever computers broke, I stepped up and offered to fix them. Realizing that this was indeed what I wanted to do, I then got a job doing Technical and Desktop Support. From there, I did Network Administration, then Helpdesk Support. I was promoted to Helpdesk Lead and then the Manager of the Helpdesk team. During that role, I discovered I really enjoyed the documentation side of things, and then found a contract as a Technical Writer!

What are some of the things you believe have positioned you for success?
There are two major contributors:

  1. Understanding of people/team members and following “the Golden Rule.” Managers, Leads, employees, clients, etc. should never just give orders; you need to treat others as you’d like to be treated, showing respect and helping when possible.
  2. Having an approachable personality. I always strive to be an “open door,” welcoming and easy to work with.

From your experience, what do you think holds people back from reaching their full potential professionally?
A lot of people are scared to do something that is outside their comfort zone. You have to take risks. Have a “no fear” mentality, and put yourself out there. If you want to do something, pursue it. Don’t be stopped by anything if you’re interested in pursuing something. Go after your interests and goals; go big!

What are some challenges/hurdles you’ve experienced?
My biggest hurdle has been that I don’t have a college degree. Whenever I’m applying for jobs, I’m competing against people with a degree. What I’ve found is to really be able to speak to my work experience and skills; really market my skill set and what I can bring to the table. While having a college degree can open doors faster, you can still succeed, you just have to work harder and prove yourself, and be able to really effectively market yourself.

What are your go-to training resources?
I’m an avid Googler and constantly on YouTube!

What’s your problem-solving process?
Put on classical music and figure it out! Troubleshooting has always been intuitive to me; my mind has always worked in an interesting way where I come up with out-of-the-box solutions.

What would be your main advice for entry-level IT professionals?
Start small and simple. You’ll find success by identifying a good company that promotes internal growth and development with a job you know you can do. Don’t look for that “perfect job” first, but find a company who is supportive and will provide you opportunities, and then constantly be looking for additional tasks to do and ways to contribute. Always be seeking additional knowledge gaining opportunities! Keep trying and learning new things, taking a hands-on approach where you learn and then attempt to do. You’ll learn a lot from observing the folks around you.

Congratulations Kareem, for being featured in our Contract Employee Spotlight and thank you for sharing your career advice with us!

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