1 2 Previous Next 26 Replies Latest reply: Apr 15, 2012 10:15 AM by Conwyn RSS

    Is IT right for me?

    Patrick Geschwindner - CCIE R&S, CCSI

      Every now and then I see posts in the CCNA and of course CCNP forum as well, which sound like: I will try to get into IT to change my career into something different. In discussions it is hard to elaborate which other side-effects one needs to go through when choosing IT as your target. IT is like medicine: It has serious side effects. In my classes a common joke (but very realistic) is:


      The best what you hear from your clients in the network is NOTHING!! Then your network is working as intended. There is nobody who taps on your shoulder and mentions "Your network is performing great" if it works as advertised. But if anything is wrong then they claim "It must be the Network" and you are the one to be blamed for.


      To be in IT one needs to see the bigger picture and be able to motivate yourself to pull through. One must not be hesitant to ask others to solve issues. Make yourself clear that the client in the network by any means cannot have the insight what your job is all about and it is easy to blame the virtual nature of what you are responsible for.


      I ran into this post from a fellow collegue which summarizes this.




      I am in IT since 1978 and I have to say that since then the principles have not changed a bit. It's just developing faster and faster every day and we are accommodating the services for more clients every day. (And for me as a grown kid more different toys to play with )




        • 1. Re: Is IT right for me?
          Paul Stewart  -  CCIE Security

          Brandon said that very well. If you love IT, you'll actually struggle with carving out the enough personal time for yourself and family. If you love IT, you will continue to learn and explore. For those who look at IT as an opportunity or a paycheck, they will struggle to reach real success. IT is an opportunity and a paycheck, but you have to love it first and foremost

          • 2. Re: Is IT right for me?

            Now that is a great blog by Brandon!  It's so good, I am going to share it with my co-workers!

            • 3. Re: Is IT right for me?
              Ryan Lewis

              Totally Agree!


              You have to love it thanks for the link.



              • 4. Re: Is IT right for me?

                Having read through this and the blog, I'd have to say that fundamentally I disagree with most of it, notwithstanding I couldn't comprehend whether this was IT in general or just networking as a niche?


                IT covers a broad spectrum and doesn’t start or even stop at Layer 3, (just one of the misconceptions I often find on here), as well as being an integral part of most modern businesses today.


                On the subject of modern businesses, what I found a little cringe-worthy in Brandon's blog was with reference to Facebook, whilst not a user myself, I think it has to be appreciated that this garage start-up now valued at over $100bln, wholly Internet-enabled business, has created a fair few IT jobs, of which I imagine some in the IT department are in line for bumper bonuses (IPO pending).




                Suffice to say a lot of it read like 'teaching your grandmother to **** eggs', though wouldn't want to see too many mistakes made on a production network, especially where mission-critical apps were running.



                I think the 'big picture' as you put it is more about viewing IT holistically, especially in this day and age where cloud and virtualisation are blurring traditional boundaries, whilst the network is an obviously an integral part, its not a mutual exclusive. I haven't witnessed blame being proportioned in the manner you describe in a good long while, especially where best practices have been implemented.



                In contrast, over the many years I’ve been in IT (though not since 1978), the industry has been in a constant state of flux (probably only have to look at the frequency with which Cisco updates its tests) and for me personally very much part of the attraction, ironically its an industry that I fell into, as opposed planned for.

                • 5. Re: Is IT right for me?

                  hmmm.....   Perpahs it depends on environment.  Here are a few points from his blog that witness first hand as true.... at least in my environment.


                  1) "I see a massive group of people who expect to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and claim that the company didn’t give them the training they needed or the tools they needed to complete their assignment. Nobody wants to claim ownership and assume responsibility."


                  Unfortunately, I see this all the time.  I didn't get to where I am at by thinking or acting this way.  I got no hand outs, I had to education myself and work hard.  I had to take ownership for my own career and progression.  Can't imagine it any other way.


                  2) "You need to learn on your own time."  I really can't disagree with this.  There are several times where I am learning on my own time.  I don't like it all the time.  Everyone needs a break and too much studying isn't the best thing for family life, but sometimes it just has to be done.  If one is fortunate enough to have an employer who provides "learning and training time", more power to them.  But that doesn't seem to be the norm in my area.


                  3) "If you don’t screw up, you’re not doing it right."   This one, I did struggle with.  I understand that everyone makes mistakes, however, best practices would dictate that one would "practice" in a test enviroment so that mistakes are not made in production.  I agree with the everyone makes mistakes and that is a part of learning mentality, however, I do agree with rmhango that such mistakes can and should be avoided by applying best practices, which includes a good test environment.


                  4) "You need to ask for help, but don’t expect to always get it"  Again, this is a double edged sword.  As the top tier in my organization, I really have no one to go to if I need assistance, other than Cisco TAC.  Now I have smartnet contracts and know how to use Google so I do have resources.  I pay enough for smartnet so you are darn right I expect help.  I think this statement is really referring to internal resources in an organization and not external resources like Cisco TAC.  There is a good point there though.  I know many IT people who have forgotten how to use Google.  It is a sad sight.


                  5) "It’s essential to follow your peers online and engage with the community."  I am not so sure about this.  I would say that it is essential to keep up with what is going on in the IT world, i.e business trends, new technologies, etc.  How one does that is up to them.  I will admit that engaging in online communities can be beneficial but there are 2 parts to that.  Take CLN for example.  There are users like rmhango that are very involved and particiapte and give back to the community and there are others that may silently read up and follow what is going on, but not really engage and become part of discussions.


                  I would say following what is going on is one thing but being engaged is something different.  I would consider being engaged and actively parcipating in an online community.  Is that a need.    Uh, not so sure.  It has helped me though.

                  • 6. Re: Is IT right for me?
                    Brett Lovins, Community Manager

                    Great post and link. Thanks Patrick.


                    • 7. Re: Is IT right for me?
                      mjones - CCNP

                      I really agree with point 1 in the blog, and Jared's comments on it also. If you really want to go for it and suceed in IT, you need to love it, and learning in your own time, and with self funded resources is a key distinguisher. 


                      When faced with a large production problem at work, its no use to say "I havent been trained on this, so I cant be expected to fix it", the bosses will remember that. Someone who manages to solve the problem, off their own back with a tenacious attitude, and then goes to management and requests some training resources will be listened to much more than the guy who sat on his hands and complained while production was being affected.

                      • 8. Re: Is IT right for me?

                        I’ve seen a trend, and maybe it’s this generation of “Winners”, that expect a company to provide all the tools and training to meet the requirements of their job. They couple this with the desire to do the bare minimum, and then complain when they don’t get what they want.

                        Well, maybe they're just suffering from the "school mentality", a result of spending the last 12-18 years just being told what to study, being given courses and materials, and then they expect the same system to continue.


                        On the other hand I believe most of us are here because we actually chose by  ourselves to go study IT. Hopefully because we saw we liked it and had some talent for it as well.


                        Maybe some of those guys just need to have their perspective shifted by friendly advice, and pointed to the right methods of self-study. And the rest should change careers to something more straightforward

                        • 9. Re: Is IT right for me?
                          mjones - CCNP

                          There was some debate here in the UK recently about schools churning out computer users, rather than computer developers or engineers.  And its true, those of us who are that little bit older and who spent a lot of time as kids/teenagers with a ZX Spectrum, Commodore64/Amiga or AtariST hacking about seem to have had an advantage.


                          I remember that as 12-14 year olds we generally knew more about computers than the school teachers (in the UK at least) and I think that is now a real advantage over those who grew up in the PC world with everything being done for them, and those who didnt question how or why it worked.

                          • 10. Re: Is IT right for me?

                            Albert_T wrote:


                            On the other hand I believe most of us are here because we actually chose by ourselves to go study IT. Hopefully because we saw we liked it and had some talent for it as well.


                            Absolutely, in fact there are some on here so ethusiastic that they plan on bypassing the IT Department altogether and are heading straight for a seat on the company board


                            Also, as always kudos to Jared, not all environments follow strict guidelines.

                            • 11. Re: Is IT right for me?
                              Paul Stewart  -  CCIE Security



                              I'm a little surprised to hear that you disagree with it.  I think most peoples opinion of this article would be directly influenced by the people they've been exposed to. Honestly I think I agree with both of you on the issue of making mistakes (even though that seems impossible). I doubt Brandon is talking about making mistakes that could adversely affect mission critical systems and cost real money. We all take calculated risks. There is no way to have a completely risk free IT career.


                              Regarding some of the other points, I have worked in environments that did not support training and development at all. In other cases, I have worked with companies that bent over backwards to help their employees. The sweet spot for the employer and the employee is somewhere in the middle. With that being said, some employees have a 9 to 5 mentality. If their employer don't hand it to them on a silver platter, they ain't gettin' it. That's the mentality Brandon is talking about. As an instructor, I also see some of his perspective. If you get that student, they expect you to do it for them.  In that case, they learn very little.


                              IT professionals have to be given enough freedom to do their jobs, make mistakes and learn. A mistake can be in a lab environment or less than mission critical system. I'm not saying people should deviate from procedure, but their isn't a process for everything. At best, people will make mistakes. What is important is figuring out the why (both technically and procedurally) the mistake happened. Digg Deep and Learn :-)

                              • 12. Re: Is IT right for me?

                                Hi Paul,

                                Let’s just say it appeared to be a set of sweeping general statements, which were less than concise.

                                I think most people are resigned to the fact that they’ll have to fund their own training nowadays, especially where they may be considering a job/career change, as many employers have shied from funding employee training for precisely this reason.

                                Unfortunately, those freedoms of which you speak are fast eroding, regulatory compliance and corporate governance have pretty much put paid the way IT could experiment in the past. Adoption of industry standard best practices and frameworks are now dictating job roles, with processes and procedures that must be strictly adhered too.

                                As for personal attitudes, you could put that down to a myriad of reasons, not all employers provide the best of working environments for their staff and different people may have different expectations, I’m not sure its on this basis people should be judged on being suitable for IT.

                                Kind Regards

                                • 13. Re: Is IT right for me?
                                  Steven Williams

                                  You know when I read these threads, I go back to when it all started for me. I started in IT as a part-time job installing software on PC's in a massive hospital environment, not because I liked it, but because I needed a job. I hated every minute of it. The same thing over and over, day after day, 5 days a week. It was horrible. Then I met a good group of guys in the server department who on my lunches and free time would take me in their area and show me some cool stuff....I said thats what I want to do! So it began, bought some books, some servers, and began the journey. Went and took some classes and it was in my database class that the teacher got me a job at her company unit testing software...this was worse than installing software on PC's all day. I took about 3 weeks for my boss at the time to notice I had a huge interest in servers, networking, and Microsoft. So I began upgrading servers from 2000 to 2003, migrating exchange servers, sharepoint servers, etc, etc. I did this for 3 years straight, and the day I decided to turn into Cisco was the day my company bought some CS11501's, Pix Firewalls, and 2950's....and I knew nothing about any of those. It frustrated me so bad not know these technologies that I dove into it head first! After months of this, I loved it! I hated working on servers and exchange servers, but I loved playing the Pix Firewalls! So I decided to make a change to adopt Cisco as my path. So when I started this I was watch CBT videos on ICND1 and 2 and I remember the words of  jeremy cioara on his videos when you says "fall in love", and that is so true. I agree with Paul when he says if you love IT it is a struggle to make personal time and family time for yourself. My work is my hobby and my hobby is work. I work with this stuff all day at work and go home and play with my home lab all the time. I am always looking into new things that come up everyday, rather its voice, routing, multicast, BGP, whatever. I see IT as the double edge sword. Thankfully I have a very understanding wife that knows that this is my passion and what pays the bills so she is very understanding and because of that I make changes all the time to my schedule for her and my kids. Just recently I build a CCIE rack at home, I wanted to get it cabled so bad, but knew my daughter needed my time, so we cabled it together! She thought it was the coolest thing ever to be part of that.


                                  With that being said I sometimes read peoples posts on failing exams over and over again, and while I feel bad for them, I also feel that an individual needs to be real with themselves and say maybe this isn't for me.

                                  • 14. Re: Is IT right for me?

                                    Many people will tell a similar story, in fact my own story is not that dissimilar. but I think some people take it way to far!



                                    1 2 Previous Next