Two people in two weeks asked me the same question

“How did you get your IT job in Hawaii” when you moved there?

Good question.

First of all I had a lot of IT (Information Technology) credentials. I had Comptia’s A+ certification, Microsoft’s MCSE, 7 Microsoft MCP certifications, and about 2 dozen hardware certifications for fixing DELL, IBM, HP, and Compaq desktops, notebooks, and printers. I already had 4 years of experience working in break-fix and network management, and I was an SEO expert on top of it. I knew how to develop websites, and I knew a lot about internet marketing – but not all of it – that is sure!

Jobs in IT in Hawaii are not hard to come by.

I landed at Honolulu International Airport on Oahu on January 21, 2002. I had a great IT job within 8 days. I interviewed for 4 different positions. Two of them I didn’t like. Two of them offered me the job. I took a job with a Hawaii spam king. He was, and still IS quite undercover. He didn’t do anything blatantly illegal, but it was a balancing act.

We were a 3 person office before hiring 2 more. In a year we grossed 5,000,000 and cleared over 3MM.

Such was life for a dotcom spam organization in 2002.

How did I find the job?

After I got my Hawaii driver’s license, or state ID – I can’t remember which I got first – I went to the Workforce Development office in downtown. I signed up and told them all of my skills. They were excited to have someone with skills come in to apply – and they really helped me a LOT. They took the time to go over many possible jobs with me that I might qualify for. There were about 30 jobs I was qualified for that they had on the books, and they were getting more in daily. It was really easy. Within a couple days I had interviews, and I chose a job making $50K per annum.

 

Back then it seemed like there were a fair number of companies looking to employ people that knew something about internet marketing and search engines. They didn’t quite know what we were worth, and we didn’t either. Some companies didn’t know how to go about integrating an internet marketing expert – me – into their traditional heirarchy of staff which never needed such a person. When I left the job with the spam king I moved to a position as “Marketing Manager” for a resort management firm that had 4 properties – two on big island and two on Maui. I didn’t know much about traditional marketing at all – print advertising and the travel industry, bookings, etc. But I learned a lot while I was there on Maui.

Is it easy to find an IT job in Hawaii today?

I’d say yes, it’s easy.

Might you have to take a job you don’t necessarily want to remain in for a long time in order to give yourself some more time finding the perfect IT job?

Yes, quite possibly – I think a lot of people do this.

Here’s the thing about getting jobs in IT on the islands…

There has been a large scale brain drain in IT, in the medical field, but especially in IT. Information technology whizzes tend to leave Hawaii immediately if they’re not entrepreneurial, to look for work in the mainland – west coast usually. California is full of tech companies that need people with IT brains. They’re paying approximately nine times what jobs in the same area pay on Oahu, and more multiples of any other island.

One way of looking at it is that anyone with half a brain that knows their way around IT in Hawaii – leaves as soon as possible.

The rest of us?

We stay! If you love Hawaii – you’re not moving to California, Arizona, Utah, Washington… you’re staying Hawaii. There’s a trade-off in Hawaii between working for peanuts and getting to live in the ultimate place on earth. To me, it’s quite worth it. I could have moved to California and made $30,000 more per year, but I moved to Hawaii instead. It’s the price of staying in paradise. One of the prices anyway.

There always seem to be jobs available for IT professionals on Oahu. I have never had a problem finding a job, and nobody I know in the field had much trouble either. Even today as I look at job openings – there are many. Seems like companies have finally realized – nearly everyone needs either an on-staff internet marketing manager, or to hire a consultant for 15-20 hours per week part-time.

I had a neighbor in my Waikiki condo that was a C programmer. He worked for a company in California, but worked in his room about 5 hours each day – and was out surfing the rest of the day. If you can swing one of those deals, wow… that is probably the ultimate way to work in Hawaii. Find an out of state position where you can work online. Or, create your own and be a consultant for your own business.

How I Landed My Second IT Job in Hawaii

That’s part two in the series of 3 about finding IT jobs in Hawaii.

Aloha,

Peter Kay

[Photo credit – flickr.com member, blakespot]