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Random Thought for Friday, September 25, 2015: Ten Years

hamster in monitorWelcome to Friday’s Random Thought.

Ten years, a decade. Looking back it doesn’t seem that much time has passed but at the same time so much has happened. Tomorrow marks my ten-year anniversary of working at my current job.  What you say? An IT guru at the same job for ten years?  That simply doesn’t happen anymore!

To clarify, I’ve been at the site I work at for ten years.  Over that time I converted from being a contractor to a permanent employee, the business itself has gone through now two owners and due to various restructuring activities I’ve had 16 different bosses, two of them twice.  No, that’s not an exaggeration, that’s an accurate count. Here, I’ll name them; Sam, Kimber, Mike, Becki, Mark, Clarke, Pedro, Dale, Clarke(same guy, second round), Kim, Krissy, Rene, Kim (again, same one, second time), Kurt (9 days), Jean, David. See, I wasn’t kidding.

My job itself has evolved over that time.  I went from being a mid level desktop support tech to being a Senior Desktop Analyst and a case queue manager for our national support team. I’ve seen ups and downs over the years, served as an acting hub manager for a while as our team lead went out the door with a divestiture and our manager was out on FMLA. I’ve seen plant consolidations, stood up new facilities, shut down others and after all that time there are moments still when I get down on my hands and knees to check a cable connection. I don’t care how high up the IT food chain you are, we all still have that moment where we do that basic troubleshooting at some time during the day.

Ten years at the same place and never 2 years in a row where things were the same. It has been a crazy ride a this job and it has only been 10 of  my 26 years doing IT work. So, how did I get this far without getting an ulcer or going insane?

Well, here comes that “moment of reminiscing with strangers” bit. Yeah, advice from a seasoned IT guru.

First and most importantly always do your best. You have to maintain a level of personal integrity and have a good work ethic. It may not pay off at that one job you have right now but that attitude will help you throughout your career. It will help you to remained focused on the task at hand. Learn this early in your career and it will pay off better than any certification you may have.

Always be professional, decide to do what is right and not what is easy. I had the misfortune of working for a company that closed it’s doors while everyone was on Christmas vacation. We all came back to find the offices mostly emptied out without explanation. Some of the staff broke into the building and started to trash and loot the place. Some of those sold what they looted at pawn shops to get what was owed to them. I didn’t trash nor loot the place.  Sure, I could have taken something and sold it, obviously I needed the money but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do even though I had been screwed over by this company.

As it turns out the owner had decided to sell the company, kept it quiet from the staff and lied to the buyers about outstanding debts. Eventually I did receive my missing pay as the local department of labor had taken the complaints of some of us and pursued the new owner for the missing pay.  You see, when you sell a company there are things called laws that require items like this to be addressed. The missing money didn’t come until March of the following year and things were tough for a while, but those who broke in and trashed the place lost out on that missing pay because of their actions. Those who sold looted items were charged with theft, a few went to jail.

Never assume you know the answer, don’t be complacent. We all get that call that a user can’t log into their computer. We immediately think it is because the locked their account out from using the wrong password too many times. When you finally look at the issue it turns out that the DHCP server is down and this person’s computer is not able to talk on the network as a result. This server being down will cause other users to have the same issue and if not addressed will shut that site down from being able to get any work done. The simple things can become major issues very quickly. Treat each issue with the attention that it could lead to a potential outage. When it doesn’t, guess what? You have a small victory. Grin your evil grin and move onto the next issue.

Speaking of small victories, remember to celebrate them. I know, it sounds like some of that corporate motivational speak we hear from time to time but in truth, you need to do this.  Keeping a positive attitude in a job where you are always dealing with other people’s problems can wear you down. You need to cheer yourself up so celebrate that 26th password reset for that secretary that calls every morning. They didn’t call not to be a pain in the ass, they called you for help. You helped them. Be happy that you were able to do that, that you were useful. There will be days when you won’t be useful and it can drive you nuts. A little joy every now and again is a healthy thing.

Don’t take things personally. People may yell and shout at you because something is not working. They are frustrated and they need another Human being to understand that frustration. Remove the attachment between the user and the problem and refer to it as “our problem”. “Sir, I am here to help you with our issue.” That perspective and attitude has worked for me for over twenty years and led to not feeling miserable all the time.

Lastly, embrace change. In the IT world things are always changing and if you are unable to cope with constant change then you need to find a different career path. Technology, business needs, security threats and the ability of users to find those “random undocumented features” in their respective applications will always bring a certain amount of “instability” to your day but that is the path you have chosen. With change comes new experiences, new ideas and new potential for an interesting day.

Happy Friday Everyone!

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