Monday, November 25, 2013

Some Things I’ve Learned While Working in Enterprise IT

Even though many would argue with me, I don't really consider myself a success story. Maybe that is me just being humble or maybe that is me just downplaying reality, but I don't really like to boast about myself. Instead, I really enjoy reading about a person's success story such as how they rose to the top from the very bottom of the barrel. Most of the stories are inspirational and uplifting and make me want to keep getting better at what I do. But what is more enjoyable is participating in success stories.

I feel privileged that others ask me for advice or for guidance in their careers. Every once in a while I receive an email that goes something like this,

"Hello Joe. My name is --NAME-- and I want to thank you for --AN ARTICLE-. I just started a new I.T. job at --LOCATION-- and I was wondering what advice you have for those just getting started. Thanks again. I'm looking forward to your response and looking forward to your next post."
I usually respond with a "good luck" type of response that includes a few of my pointers and most of the time I never hear back from them.

Over the years, I have been collecting these little nuggets of advice and I think it is time to share them in one place. For those wanting to get a job in Enterprise IT or for those currently working in some type of IT job, below are some of the things that I've learned along the way:
  • Experience is everything to a hiring manager. If you don't have any experience whatsoever get a low level support job in IT, ANYWHERE. After you have been there for at least one year, work on moving up the ladder.
  • Certifications matter only to those that understand their value. Make it a personal goal to get certified. 
  • If you get a helpdesk job, and you know you want to move up in the world, make it known that you do not want to be there forever. But don't be a jerk about it.
  • Don't complain out loud - EVER. Complaints cause an RGE = Resume Generating Event.
  • Enterprise IT is considered a COST CENTER. You do provide value in keeping the business running but in the end you are an expense. Think about that for a moment - let this sink in....
  • You are not the glue that holds the business together. When in doubt, read the previous point.
  • Always know where you stand with your managers and team members that you work with.
  • Always keep your resume updated. You never know when you may be forced to pursue another job opportunity.
  • Don't get fired.
  • Don’t steal, EVER.….. Seriously don’t do it.
  • Having a job is a privilege. You are NOT entitled to anything in life except for breathing air so don’t screw it up.
  • C.Y.A = Cover Your Ass. Get approval, maintain a paper trail, do your research. CYA. CYA. CYA.
  • When in doubt, get manager approval.
  • Be absolutely sure when executing a task. Do your research. Make sure you are ‘right’.
  • Do things right the first time.
  • Quality is ALWAYS better than the quantity.
  • Don't ever lose the passion for technology. Keep tinkering, keep trying things out. Keep learning.
  • Always have an answer to the question "What book are you currently reading?". Responding with "Nothing" or “I don’t know” is not an answer.
  • Come up with a good process for troubleshooting issues. I like the 5 questions.
  • Knowing how something works is the key to troubleshooting and fixing problems.
  • Respect goes both ways, but it always starts with you giving respect first.
  • If your manager is a douche to you in front of others under his\her command, it just might be time for you to move on.
  • Be humble, and be grateful for the skills that God has given you.
  • Be honest and don't lie to your co-workers and superiors, EVER.
  • Own up to your mistakes, admit your mistakes, and learn from them.
  • Shit will happen. So get over it.
  • Always be willing to teach someone what you know if they ask.
  • Don't belittle or demean someone if they don't know something. Remember that there was a time when you didn't have the knowledge and needed help.
  • Don't try to "change the world" in one day. Learn existing processes and adapt, then slowly introduce other options at a later time and only at the appropriate moment.
  • It is OK to say that you do not know something.
  • If you do not know something, it is an opportunity for you to learn. If you don't know something, find out. Google is your friend.
  • Be conscious of and consider others’ rights, needs and constraints before acting.
  • In the helpdesk world, work orders (a.k.a support tickets) can be your best friend or your worst enemy. The ticket needs to tell a story. If it isn't in the ticket, it never happened.
  • Don't ever, EVER, let the job get personal or affect your personal time.
  • If the job becomes personal, you will forget this entire list of advise and will lead to you getting kicked out the door, and maybe even something worse.
This is a lot of philosophy, some ethics, but it is all truth.
- Joe