This is the first of what may become three articles comparing Boot Camp to the business world.
I was in Army Boot camp a long time ago. I had joined the Army National Guard and I attended boot camp in Fort Leonard Wood, MO, where I learned how to be a Combat Engineer (12B for those who know what MOS is). We went to boot camp with the regular Army and the drill instructors treated us just the same as the Army guys.
In Boot Camp they spend some time breaking you down. This isn't to make you any less of a person, but it is kind of a cleansing ritual where you go from thinking of yourself as an individual, to thinking of yourself as part of your squad, patrol and company. After you were broken down, then they put you back together in the image of soldier and made you a part of a team.
While at Boot Camp we learned how to be a soldier. Learning to be a soldier is a lot like learning to be an IT professional in the following 3 ways, the uniform, the decorum, the weapons. I'll cover each of these topics in detail over the next few articles.
During Boot Camp we learned a lot about our uniforms. We spent hours polishing our boots and pressing our uniforms. We learned exactly how to wear the uniform and how to blouse our pants in our boots. We learned how the uniform should look, where patches, awards and medals were placed in exactly the precise location.
However, after boot camp, when I went to my first National Guard meeting, I was shocked at how lax the uniforms were. I saw soldiers walking around with their pants un-bloused, and their boots unpolished. It was a shock to my system to see soldiers out of uniform, especially after having the proper wear of the uniform drilled into my head for 13 weeks.
How does that compare to a being an IT professional?
Before you become a data integration professional, your daily clothing probably consisted of shorts or jeans and a tee-shirt or a polo. You might have been abnormal and worn a button down and slacks, but that was probably on rare occasions. However, when you began to interview for a position as an Information Technology professional, you started to wear a uniform. As a man I wore a suite, button down shirt and a tie to interview with potential employers. If you are woman you probably wore a blouse and a skirt, or a nice pants suit to interview in. In either case, it was a uniform.
Then after you got hired, the uniform changed. The dress code at work may have been business formal or business casual, but I'll bet you saw people "out of uniform". I wrote about that in a previous article on the definition of business formal. I know I was shocked when I came to work in a button down shirt, pressed slacks and a tie, and saw one of the managers wearing a lawn shirt (I had to look it up), khaki cargo pants and boat shoes! In my mind that did not fit the definition of business formal.
I also worked at a company that had a business casual dress code in our department. I was shocked when I came into work and one of my co-workers, who had been with the company for almost 10 years, was wearing an untucked pocket t-shirt, shorts, and sandals with white socks! That outfit certainly didn't comply with the dress code.
My point is that when in training, we learn the uniform we should wear. We are "trained" in how to wear that uniform and what is acceptable and not. However, once you're out of "training" and enter the real world, you may be shocked at the co-workers you see who are "out of uniform".
The point of this series is how the real world is so different than the world we're taught to expect when we're young in our career.
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