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Q: I have no experience in IT but I am bored with my job. I am a purchasing manager, and the paperwork is overwhelming. Even with computers we still can’t get away from paper! I understand computers are changing my business, and I want to know how I can liven up my career while learning more about this change. I am hoping it will all lead to a more interesting and paper-free job!

A: My first thought is to send you to a trade association that services purchasing management, such as the Institute for Supply Management, formerly the National Association of Purchasing Management. Chances are your company is already a member of one or more of these organizations. Use these resources to learn more about using IT to the max in your job.

My second thought is that you need to learn more about the IT world in general. With your background, it’s more likely you’ll stick to the user side of the IT world, but it never hurts to know about the behind-the-scenes work. You need to subscribe to some of the leading publications and turn up at a few trade shows every year to walk around and see what’s new.

Q: Are there any apprenticeships for people interested in IT jobs? I am considering getting my A+ and Net+ certifications, but I know I need some job experience to get started in my career. I live in Virginia, so if you can find something in-state for me, I’d be grateful.

A: In this country, there are few organized programs for formal IT apprenticeships. The few I have found are organized and run by federal and state governments.

Here are a few Web sites to help you get started finding a program: check out Virginia’s CareerConnection Web site. For readers in other states, look for links to a similar kind of site by starting at your state’s Web site. Some states have state apprenticeship councils, as well. Here is a direct link to a site that links to the state Web sites related to these councils. Virginia is one of the states listed on the site.

The Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT) is a federal effort that registers training programs in 23 states, but doesn’t list that information on the Web. The best way to track these down is to visit the Employment and Training Web site and click on the link for the BAT regional offices.

By the way: Listen up, all you IT company owners and managers out there. The federal government sites I’ve mentioned also tell you how to set up a formal apprenticeship program. Take the time to check them out. Starting an apprenticeship program is an excellent way to give back to your industry and build a strong labor force at the same time.

Q: Is there any way for someone in management without a lot of interest in computers–by that I mean no interest in the back-end aspects of how they are put together and how they work–to get involved in the computer industry?

A: Sounds to me as though you might be interested in something called content management. This is an umbrella term, one of several, for the concept that there are better ways of organizing the digital content on the Web than what currently exists. If you are interested in creating instead of producing physical goods, I suggest you learn more about the business of content management.

There is no one book or Web site I can suggest that will help you learn what you need to know. You don’t need a primer on managing anything. The best way for you to start would be to find a conference on content management that has a large number of exhibitors in the content management area. Go, listen, walk around, and collect handouts on the companies.

I suggest you also visit the Web site of Content Magazine, which is affiliated with the Content World trade show and conference.

Do you have a question about career options and issues? Ask me about it, and maybe others can learn from the answers. You can reach me at [email protected]

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