Many technology workers are drawn to the industry from seemingly unrelated professions. Don't underestimate the importance of a liberal arts education and general life experiences to the technology field. These workers can bring a lot of value and wisdom to your team.
"I don't think we want him," Charlene said in her typical methodical manner.
The hung jury groaned. It was the eight-person development team's sixth meeting to pick a new business analyst from the final list. All agreed that Stan was the man, except Charlene, a fast-rising technical star at FastTech and already a team lead at twenty-four.
"Charlene," said Eric, the team architect, "we may have to go with a majority vote. We have to move forward."
Sarah, the development manager for the division that included this team of twenty-somethings, was also in the meeting. Although a believer in empowerment for her team leads, she also believed this stalemate was becoming counterproductive. "Charlene," Sarah said, "I think you should explain your reservations about Stan."
"OK. I know we're in a hurry to get a business analyst so we can focus more on technical issues, and talks with the customer about new marketing processes begin in two weeks. We want someone with so-called emotional intelligence, but selecting Stan is going too far."
"Why?" Eric asked.
"He has no technical experience outside of school," Charlene replied.
"We know," Eric countered. "All of us talked to him. We realize his background doesn't hint much at software development, but going back to school in his mid-forties to 'retool' himself shows motivation to the rest of us. Also, he's engaging and fun to talk to."
"Yes, he's charismatic, he's interesting, he's charming," Charlene said. "But he's ... he's ... he's ... "
"He's what?" Eric asked.
"He's an actor!"
"You've got something against actors?"
"Do you actually think customers will take seriously someone from off, off, off Broadway?"
"Wait," Eric said. "You're ignoring some things. First, his interview with the business unit produced positive feedback. He has three degrees: theater, philosophy ... "
"Oh, great! Someone who wants to know the meaning of life during implementation."
"And, he just finished a degree in information systems."
"That's right. Just finished--no experience. We need someone to jump in quickly. And another thing--he's in his late forties. A little late to start a new field, don't you think? What about the other candidates? All of them have considerable coding experience."
"Charlene, we've been through this. No one doubts the candidates' technical prowess, but their visits with the business unit weren't exactly stunning. They certainly could talk geek with the best of us, but we're not the customers, either."
Sarah interrupted their exchange.
"Charlene, I wish we could convince you, but we need to move forward. We'll go with Stan."
While Sarah's and Charlene's eyes were fixed on each other, a unified sigh of relief filled the conference room. As the team departed, Charlene remained for a moment, thinking this was only the end of the first act.
Two weeks later, Stan waited in Charlene's cubicle. He'd just finished the standard orientation and had been welcomed by Sarah and the rest of the team. When Charlene entered, Stan stood up to greet her.
"Nice to see you again, Charlene."
Stan's warmth was greeted with Charlene's machine-like response: "Well, you're hired. So, let's get started. I emailed you the background information on the marketing project. Any questions?"
Stan respected this energetic efficiency. "Not yet, I'll look it over. Are you going to the first meeting with marketing today?"
"For a while," Charlene said. "But it's up to you to get things going to generate the first set of use cases, you've heard about use cases, right?"
"Yes, but I thought it was mostly introductions
"Well, Stan, if we're going to do iterative