3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515
For Rory Jackson, being a recipient of the CompTIA ChannelChangers awards proves what he’s known all along: It’s OK to be different. It’s something that Jackson, a Senior Network Engineer and IT Project manager at Business Continuity Technologies, says can be an obstacle for millennials to succeed in the IT workforce.
But it doesn’t have to be. The key, he says, is for the older and younger generations to accept how the other approaches their tasks. For instance, veterans tend to be more set in their ways, adhering to a predictable work schedule, while millennials view schedules as more fluid. “I might come in to work late, but I don’t leave until 7 or 8 when the work is done,” says Jackson. At first, his older colleagues frowned on that but accepted it when they realized it didn’t hurt his productivity.
Jackson was honored last year as one of five CompTIA ChannelChangers, which recognizes young professionals for their success as entrepreneurs or making a demonstrable impact on the industry. Since then, he’s seized every opportunity he gets to try to change people’s perspectives about millennials in the workplace. He advises employers to be open-minded and provide encouragement, mentorship and a clear career advancement path. At the same time, he says, employers should avoid discouraging millennials from thinking and approaching things differently.
One thing Jackson does differently is to take on tasks usually handled by non-technical people. “I’m in front of customers three to four times a week. I like to manage my accounts because I believe I can better serve the customers that way,” he says. And when he pulls up at customer sites, he does it with style – in a hornet-yellow Toyota FJ-Cruiser decorated with big eyes and teeth to simulate the warbirds of the world wars. Customers who’ve seen the car have given him the thumbs up, he says, but truth be told, “most of the time they don’t see me pull up, anyway.”
Generational idiosyncrasies aside, Jackson believes some professional attributes are ageless: “You have to have a lot of integrity and honesty. More than anything, you have to be hungry to succeed and you have to be determined. You can’t ever give up because that door will get slammed in your face a lot of times.”
CompTIA’s ChannelChanger award recognizes future leaders in the IT industry. Nominees are under 30, must be employed by a CompTIA member company, and have worked in the IT industry for at least two years. Nominate a ChannelChanger for 2015.