Thursday, January 27, 2011

Help & Support

So there is something on my mind and I was looking to get some input from others in my field. I'm currently working alone in IT. I have 200+ users and 40+ servers to support. Some might say that this is a good thing for job security but it is A LOT to handle. There is so much pressure on you that sometimes the easy tasks become difficult. You have to turn into Ralph Dibny sometimes and stretch yourself thin. I feel like I'm always running around and every time I think I'm making a little headway, I get 10 more requests that need to be done ASAP. You get where I'm going with this. I've had discussions with my boss and his boss (one of the owners of the company) about hiring an additional body. They finally agreed with me that we should get someone else but that is where things get fuzzy.

As I said earlier, they believe we should hire someone as well but they want to go as green as possible. They want to hire someone for 30k or less and have them be my right hand man. I on the other hand feel we should go a little hire up the food chain. I'm not saying that my company should go out and hire another person at my level (although that would be nice), I was thinking more of a Senior Desktop Support/Jr. Admin role. If I had to estimate, I'd say I'd be looking in the 50-65k range. The advantages are certainly warranted in my opinion. You would get someone who can hit the ground running. All they would need to know would be the environment specific data, such as IP Addresses, Hostnames and Passwords (if needed) and they can do their job. You don't get that with a lower level person. In most cases you would have to hold their hands and look over their shoulder. I experienced it at this company where I wasted so much time redoing the work that the desktop guy supposedly took care of that I actually became less productive even with another body. I'm not saying that every entry level person is going to be a liability but the good majority of them will be, at least at first. Here is the other disadvantage of hiring a low level tech. It would take at least 6 months to a year to get them up to speed on the various technologies (assuming they put in the effort to learn them). Now that they have these additional skills, why would they want to stay in a low level position? 99 times out of 100 they would try to leave and probably get an additional 20k just for walking in the door somewhere else. That is, unless the company ponies up the extra cash which is not something they have done in the past here and why we're in the situation of looking for a newbie to begin with. I'm well aware of the fact that even a Jr. Admin level person would probably leave for the same reasons I just listed, it just makes more sense to me to hire someone that could be productive during their time here than to just hire, train and wave goodbye to someone else.

Maybe I'm being selfish in wanting someone who already knows what they're doing but I think that I am also looking out for the company's best interests. This new guy is going to have to step in when I am not around. Do you want to put someone in charge of your multi-million dollar investment in IT who has never worked on half of the technologies? Or do you want someone who has some familiarity with them? What is your take on this? Am I crazy for thinking we should hire someone with a clue? Or am I just being a big ol' Weineken. Please comment below.

Monday, January 24, 2011

School Daze

I know it's been a while since my last post, but I've been really busy studying lately. I recently obtained another certification. I'm officially a VCP (VMware Certified Professional). For those of you in the induustry, I'm sure you know it's kind of a big deal. I worked my butt off for a few months and all of that hard work paid off in another great accolade.

I've been in the field for about 13 years now. I did not finish college. I decided to go the military route instead. I became one of The Few & The Proud. I became a United States Marine. When I was done with my military obligation I transitioned into civilian life very easily. I started off as a network technician. I was doing basic server installs, along with switch and router setups. Nothing too crazy, but I wanted more. I decided to get some certifications so I could move up in the world. Like many IT guys, I started with my A+ Certification. I then moved on to Microsoft, and followed that up with Cisco certifications. I passed at least a dozen tests in a little over a year. For each one, I did some reading. Mostly those 2-3 inch study guides you find it the Computer section at Barnes & Noble. I complimented this with some good old fashioned hands on experience. I wanted to make sure that when I passed a test, I knew my stuff inside and out. I didn't want to just be a paper certified guy.

Fast Forward a few years. I'm still passing certifications because in this field, you need to keep pace and learn new technologies. I feel that studying for each test helps me learn critical technologies as well as have my work validated by some initials after my name and some fancy logos on my resume.

As most of you who follow my blog know, I hate my job. I have very valid reasons for this but rather than bitch about it some more, I'm just trying to move on. I recently was contacted by someone who found my resume online. We talked for a while and found out that we had a lot in common both professionally and personally. We both were in the Marine Corps. In fact we were in the same unit. We also were both IT guys with a few years experience behind us. This fellow Marine was a Systems Admin at a hedge fund. He was looking for another guy to help him out and my resume was the first one that popped up. I aced the phone interview and was invited to come in for a face to face. I aced that one too and was one of the final three candidates for the job. I met with the CFO, COO and Head Software developer. Everything seemed to go well and my fellow Marine was ready to hire one of his own. Then, things changed.

It turns out that this hedge fund requires a college degree for all of it's employees. It one of their main requirements. Unfortunately I was passed over for the position even though in the words of their Systems Admin, "I was the most qualified candidate, hands down.". It really got me thinking, what good would a computer science degree even be at this point? I would have graduated almost 10 years ago. The current technology at the time would have been Windows NT/2000. It's all obsolete now.

My question to you is, what separates someone with a college degree? Does a degree mean you are smarter than I am? It may, but I do not think so. I should not be penalized for knowing what I wanted to do in life very early on. I always knew I wanted to work in IT. Ever since the day I fixed my first Nintendo. I really enjoyed analyzing the problem and coming up with a solution. Since I knew this, I became an IT guy as soon as I could by joining the Marines and I haven't looked back. That doesn't mean I stopped learning. In fact, I would say I've learned more than the average college grad. It's just been much more specific to what I love.To this day, I can honestly say I've learned something new every single week that I have been in the field. I strive to make myself a better Admin/Engineer every day, by trying to learn new technologies. I want to be the best at what I do. For much of my career, I can say that I have been the best and I continue to show why now by learning new things even though it's not a job requirement (Although I think it should be).

In the end, I think I'm more upset that I was the best choice for this position but because of a piece of paper, I was passed over.