I recently responded to a social media post asking for advice for those just starting out in System Administration, Engineering, or general Information Technology (I hate that term).
My response was this… “Keep climbing and don’t settle. Get your foot in the door where you can but realize that the sky is the limit if you have the acumen and drive”.
While I am happy with my response, it got me thinking; what else of value can I offer someone starting the journey that I have spent 22 plus years on? I came up with several things that I’ll list below but I would love to have your feedback as well.
- Never stop learning. Technology is always changing and thus your knowledge must always continue to grow.
- Be very careful with the mindset of “that job is beneath me”. I am guilty of this more times than I care to admit, but understand that even the most simple jobs can teach you things that you did not know before you performed them.
- If your dream is to be a consultant, start as a customer first. Learn what you like and dislike from the consultants you work with. Learn the customer mindset and you’ll keep empathy for that mindset once you move to the other side of the table.
- This matches up with the “beneath me” mindset point, but ALWAYS BE USEFUL. Volunteer for work that you want to do and for work that you don’t want to do. If your employer and/or your customers know they can count on you no matter the task, your relationship with them will vastly improve.
- It is OK to say no, but have conviction in your answer. Technologists are generally very bad at self-preservation. We need to avoid burning out and sometimes that involves saying no. Use your “no’s” sparingly and understand when and where to not use them.
- It is OK to make a mistake as long as you learn from that mistake. A mistake made once is a learning experience.
- Do not be afraid to say “I don’t know, but I can find out”. Humility goes further than bullshit.
That is the short list that I came up with, what would you add? What do you not agree with? I understand that all of these will not be true for everyone, but I hope it provides some inspiration for those new to our field(s) and also those who, like me, have been on this journey for a while.