Like many young college graduates, I feel untouchable and ready to conquer the world. We are young, energetic and excited of the new adventures that await us. However, as untouchable as we may feel, I still feel vulnerable.
23 and already making tremendous strides in IT, I still feel like a outcast and overlooked in the field. With almost 9 years of IT experience under my belt, it’s hard to say that I’m entry level. Yet each day, people still associate age over experience and see me nothing but a young pup. It’s frustrating trying to prove myself day-in and day-out that I am qualified, knowledgeable of IT and able to direct an IT department.
Ironically, those who I work with daily in my department are fully aware of my potential and readiness to lead. It’s the people who I support that I must fight the bureaucracy and politics to demonstrate my abilities.
My biggest test came Friday, when the first of many budget meetings for my department took place. My supervisors told me that the budget is all mine; they’re integrators not techies. So the pressure was on me to plan, introduce and explain an IT budget to the administration. Now know that prior to this year, there was never a set budget or line budget ever created. My budget would be the first. It was all on me. This was my chance to prove to the administration that I can plan, lead and make important decisions. My chance to become untouchable.
Planning this budget made me feel more vulnerable than untouchable. The constant heartburn of questions that spewed from my guts kept me up all night for a week. “Are you sure you have the right numbers?” “Do we need this?” “What else are we planning for?” “Did you inflate the numbers to be safe?” “What did you forgot?” “Is the number too high?” “Can you pull this off? Are you in over your head? Is this job for you? Is this want you want?”
All of these questions churned and burned up into minutes before the budget meeting started. A wild guess would put my budget at $40K during previous years. Two periods before the meeting, my budget was just shy of $60K. Still manageable enough that the administration wouldn’t kill me yet. Then something happen. I forgot the fear of being young and trying to prove myself. I became untouchable and took charge. There was no more proving my worth, no more being afraid; only me heading my department to the right path.
Entering the meeting, I nervously downed a Twix to keep the heartburn at bay. My budget was capped at $104K with at least another $60K TBD. I was going to die until the meeting started. I never stopped talking. I kept on spewing out statements after statements explaining each line item. I saw the boss’ eye gouged out when she saw the estimated numbers. I just kept on talking. My mouth was dry 5 minutes into the meeting but I refused to slow down. This was my show and by the time the show ended, the number increased to $125K with another possible $60K.
I was in awe. I did it. My supervisors were in awe. The business man was extremely satisfied and declared that ever single item was essential. The heartburn left me and now lay in the stomach of the administration as they present the numbers to the board. I was untouchable. I returned to my office, sat down and continued to plan the future.