A primer for recent college graduates who are aspiring syadmins. Five pieces of advice that will ensure you start your IT career on the right path...
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3 Most Important Things To Focus On As a Sysadmin
With great power comes great responsibility. In the life of a sysadmin, it can take years of experience before one possesses an ‘all-knowing’ comfort level with constantly evolving programs, applications, and technologies. So for sysadmin who are in the early stages of their careers, it is important to not only have a strong technical foundation, but also a well-rounded skillset and working style which will enable you to keep up with the times. With this in mind, we spoke to a few fellow sysadmin who offered their advice on a variety of techniques that have enabled them to experience long term success. All of their tidbits are broken down into three distinct categories, so take a look at our ‘3 Most Important Things To Focus On As a Sysadmin’ post below and be fully equipped to start off your IT journey on the right foot!
Developing Expert Level Sysadmin Knowledge: The most apparent piece of advice for any young sysadmin is to spend a significant amount of time mastering the systems that will fall under your administrational responsibilities. Having a comprehensive understanding of operating systems (Linux, Windows, Ubuntu, etc), applications, databases, servers, and monitoring services that are in place at your company is just the start of your experience as an IT professional. As recommended by our sysadmin, each of the following programs/tasks are subjects you should be familiar with as an up-and-comer.
Even after immersing yourself in nitty gritty documentation of your specific IT infrastructure, there is great likelihood you will need extra training. If you are able to earn relevant IT certifications on your own, your supervisor will be pleased and impressed with your initiative. And if you really want to get a head start in your sysadmin role, do everything in your power to have a strong knowledge base in networking, virtualization, and cloud technologies. These critical areas are all the rage in today’s tech world, and it will be important for every sysadmin to stay up to date on them in the future.
“Every sysadmin has made mistakes that led to downtime; the good ones have thought about both technical and systemic reasons why it happened.”
Learn to Work with Others Who Know Less Than You: While having the appropriate set of technical skills is significant in becoming a great sysadmin, you need to know how make your systems/applications work for other people who use them on a daily basis. This requires a certain level of communication skill with both internal employees as well as external customers/vendors. Even if you are the most intelligent person in the room, it is important be humble amongst your peers and not act like the smartest guy in the room.
“A good sysadmin needs to be able to communicate with other network users and see the big picture at the same time as being fully aware of all the details”.
Focusing on the success of the organization and not just your individual ambitions will benefit you in the long run as well as being honest with your peers. Everybody makes mistakes, so when you accidently cause a website to go down, understand why it happened and learn how to solve the problem at hand. Taking the extra step in fixing IT issues rather than taking shortcut’s for the sake of time will not only be more helpful to your company, but it will allow you to naturally grow as a sysadmin.
Implement Productive Habits: If you are a seasoned sysadmin, you know that there are a number of strategic procedures you can implement which makes life much easier. Learning new techniques on the fly is a part of the job description, but learning how to correctly measure, test, monitor, document, and update your systems is crucial in becoming successful at your job. All of these good habits will provide peace of mind to the rest of your IT department, who will know that crucial applications are being properly overseen on a 24/7 basis.
“Good sysadmin are obsessively organized who always have lists in-hand, p-touch labels, and plans to trial new solutions while maintaining a standard, safe toolbox.”
Taking safe precautions such as testing your backup repositories, automating repetitive tasks, and documenting every completed task are principal precursors which makes troubleshooting problems much less stressful. Once you apply these processes into your routine, you will grow into a reliable sysadmin who is quick to respond to commonly faced obstacles in the world of IT.
For further details, feel free to read our e-books such as "IT Monitoring Buyer's Guide: How To Make The Right Choice", "Downtime is Irrelevant: Navigating the 100% Uptime Myth" and "MSPs: It's Time for Your Monitoring to Grow Up". These resources will provide you with even more information that will aid you in becoming a top notch sysadmin!
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