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.