It had been a busy day for Paul Busby at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The usual IT staff of four was down by half and a board meeting was scheduled for the afternoon. An IT department has to facilitate smooth sailing no matter how short-staffed, and when an organization’s board is involved, the pressure is high. Though he had only been at ASHP for around two months, Busby deftly handled the lunch hour scramble. He got the necessary audio equipment set up and software downloaded and installed, all before the organization’s top brass began to filter in. The meeting went off without a hitch. By late evening that day, Busby would get to see his fiancée, the joy of his life, but not before clocking a few hours at his second IT job—this one as a help desk analyst at UPS.
The long days don’t bother Busby. Since getting numerous CompTIA certifications and, more recently, a bachelor’s degree in technical management, there has been one big factor—besides, of course, the money—that makes all the work worth it for him.
“It’s something I want to do,” Busby said. “So if it’s something you want to do, it’s more fun for you.”
Busby’s recent experience in IT began with his employment at UPS. While he now spends his evenings making sure the shipping company’s sorting software runs smoothly, he spent years working there during the day in HR and operations. Busby had a deep interest in IT; he had wanted to learn about what made computers tick since he was 10 years old, working in the classroom on dusty, slow, old PCs. So when UPS began promoting further education among its employees, Busby jumped at the opportunity to dive into the world of technology.
“If I’m going to go back to school, I’m going to make sure I do it for something that I like and something that’s beneficial to me in this area,” Busby said. “[IT] is one of the things that really jumped out at me, so I jumped on it.”
Pursuing his CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications, then an associate’s degree in computer science and finally a bachelor’s degree in technology management while working full time, Busby was swamped. He spent his weekends locked down studying, writing out notes and going over them repeatedly to prepare for his exams.
“I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t easy,” Busby said. “But I had support around me, so it wasn’t just me. I had people who were going to school with me, and we motivated each other.”
After earning his CompTIA A+ certification and his CompTIA Network+ certification, Busby had accumulated the knowhow to get started in IT, but still, there was trepidation. He continued going to school and working but didn’t want to leap directly into an IT role. Learning things on paper is one thing, but managing live computer networks in the workplace seemed like a high-stress proposition to Busby. He wanted to make sure he was ready.
While pursuing his degrees, Busby got the preparation he was looking for through a classmate involved with a non-profit organization called IT Computer Wiz Kids. The non-profit brings legacy computers donated from companies to different after-school programs in the Washington, D.C., area. Volunteers guide kids through updating software, taking the computers apart, swapping out RAM and doing other fundamental computer maintenance tasks. When the computers are fixed and updated, the kids keep them. Busby was already certified and credentialed, and after plenty of hands-on experience doing trial-and-error troubleshooting with the kids, he was ready for work.
Busby asked to be moved to the night shift at UPS to gain experience overseeing the company’s computer operations. With a myriad of certifications and degrees under his belt, his search for a job to work during the day was a fruitful one. Finally able to contend in the competitive Washington, D.C., job market, he started getting calls back for interviews.
Now as he continues onward at AHSP during the day and UPS during the evenings, he has his mind set on more certifications—like CompTIA Security+—and moving into a management role.
Even as he takes on his next round of career challenges at his two jobs and plans his upcoming wedding, Busby still finds time to volunteer and teach kids about computers.
“I try to give back as much as possible,” Busby said.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.