For those thinking about an IT career the options are bewildering, and I think the education establishment doesn’t do a great job of explaining the many paths there are in IT. For example, if you’re going to write code, the world is largely split into .Net and Java. Yes, there are other technologies, but if you’re looking for the most opportunities to get a job right out of school, I think those make a lot more sense than Pascal, C, or whatever else.
If you pick Java, then you’re also going to have focus on the LAMP stack. If you pick .Net, then you learn SQL Server and IIS. You could learn both, but there’s only so much time in the day, so you have to pick a set of complimentary technologies to learn. If you’re going to be a network admin you can learn Linux and Windows, but you need to focus hard on one of them. And if you happen to be a data person, pick your platform; SQL Server (my favorite!), Oracle, DB2, and so on.
If you’re looking for job opportunities (and you probably should be), then it makes more sense to start out as a developer than a DBA, more sense to start out as a general purpose network/pc person than as a security expert.
The hard part about this is that I can coach someone on career choices related to SQL, and maybe .Net, but I don’t have the depth to talk about the Java world, or Windows security, or network architecture, or a lot of other things. How do we give those trying to make a good career choice the visibility into what our world looks like so they can make a good decision with regard to what fits them?