Some students come into a career industry knowing exactly what they’ll do later in life. Other students are more like Billy from “Family Circus” comic strips, who take the scenic route to get to their final destination. Ray Trygstad fits into the latter category.

(Photo Courtesy of Ray Trygstad)

(Photo Courtesy of Ray Trygstad)

Trygstad graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a major in European Studies; then he went on to become a helicopter pilot. But at the University of Denver where he got his master’s, he started paying more attention to technology. When the navy assigned Trygstad to the Public Health Center (PHC), his coursework led him to computer science and a master’s degree in 1988.

Now Trygstad is the director of information technology for the School of Applied Technology at Illinois Institute of Technology.

What are the main things you do on a daily basis in your career field?

“As a manager, I primarily support teaching and writing for our Information Technology and Management degree.”

What do you find to be the most challenging with that position?

“I have to support not just active technologies that are being deployed today but research into technologies that are going to be deployed down the road.”

What classes do you feel students in your career field are overlooking?

“Students that are comfortable in cloud computing are folks that are going to have an edge in hiring, especially into managerial positions.”

Do you have any advice for new people in your current field?

“IT professionals that can communicate well have a distinct edge over the classic image of IT people being geeks that are kept in the backroom. If you have two IT staff members that are up for promotion — one of them writes better and they have equal technical knowledge and abilities — you’re always going to promote the person that writes better. Also, you want to find the job that is going to put food on your table and a roof over your head. But beyond that is a job where you look forward to going to work every day. If you have that, you have wealth.”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a professional journalist who has work featured in AXS, Yahoo!, Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune. She’s been an Examiner since 2009 and currently writes about 10 categories on Examiner.com.