Friday, January 27, 2006

Being The Problem Solver

Lots of people don't realize that when you are an information technology professional, nearly your entire day consists of problem solving. People come to you to look for answers, and they need them quick. It's important to be connected, so that people can access information as quickly as possible. This is one of the reasons I've got a PDA phone. Can you say putty in my pocket, LOL.

When I was a student, I thought that being a systems administrator would be glamorous. I always looked up to them for being super smart, and always knowing what to do. As a systems administrator myself, I come to realize that my job is far from glamorous. Many times it requires comming in on your day off, staying late, tons and tons of reading, and a heart dedicated to doing this kind of work.

Information technology professionals can enjoy the fact that your job today is not your job tomorrow. What I mean by that, is that technology changes so quickly on a day to day basis that the things you are working on today are going to be tomorrow's ancient history. So it is exciting to get to work on new things, which means that you shouldn't live and die by one routine. For my, it's a learning cycle. I learn the hot technology, support it, implement it, and move on to the next big thing when it gets outdated.

For me, there isn't anything like computers. It's such a hugh industry, with so much to do, that I can't see how anyone would get bored. Don't ask my girlfriend though if computers are boring. She'd probably tell you yes, and then go play Enemy Territory on her PC for hours, LOL.

Part of being a problem solver is having lots of good communication skills. Many times the people you are supporting are in remote locations, even in other countries. It's important to be a good listener. Listening is going to save you time, and save your company money. You've got to sweat the details, if you don't you'll miss that one important thing that the user did just before the system crashed.

Just as listening is important, the ability to give instruction to other people is also important. If you think that you are going to be a sys admin and stay in a dark room with just a PC, then you've got another thing comming. I'm still trying to find that job, and I've been doing this since '97. You are going to have to give instruction and guidance to end users (yuck). If you are like me, then maintaining your patience when the end user doubles his search box as an address bar is going to be your main challenge.

Chances are, you'll be working side by side with managers and company executives. This has lots of positive and negative things associated. One positive is that you work directly with the people that can make things happen, purchases, strategies, policies. A negative effect is probably having to be highly available, very quick on your toes, and being responsible for not just yourself, but probably for all the computer systems that the staff uses. Trust me, you don't want to have a department sitting on it's hands because the network went down. Your boss probably won't like that very much, considering all the money that still needs to be paid to employees that can't work.

Hopefully this post here will give you some insight into the day to day of a problem solver aka systems administrator. If you are into computer technology, please check out my information technology community.

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