Twenty Years down the track

This month sees me having worked in IT (Information Technology) for 20 years.   I started out as a programmer and discovered how boring it is and how often minds get changed.   You never seem to be done with any project.   Fortunately, I was able to move into a support role and began work as a Level 1 Helpdesk.   After a few years of that, bumped up into Level 2 and also started Operations / NOC work.    These past two I became Senior IT Engineer. The last 18years, this was all with the same company.

I did not go to university.  I was armed only with some college diplomas in programming and IT ( generalist ); and a keen interest in computers.    I’ve learnt 90% on the job and often at uncomfortable speeds as needs have dictated.

More over, I love my job.

Some insights I’ve twigged too over that time.

When someone claims something is Urgent, in reality it isn’t.  They are just impatient and think that whatever they are doing is more important than anything anyone else is doing.  When I see Urgent, sadly for them, they are the last person that gets helped.

Please.   You’ve probably been raised to use manners and be courteous.   I can count on two hands the number of times that someone has actually said “Please….”.    I don’t know what it is but it just doesn’t happen with any frequency.

Thank you.  Again, not a word you are going to hear often.   I wondered on several occasions over the years how IT ( there is a group of us ) determine that we are doing a good job.  One of my colleagues said its easy. “Is the phone ringing??”, “Is the helpdesk queue empty?”.   When its quiet, we doing a good job.   Savor those times, don’t use it to rest and recover.   Get all those little jobs done that you never seem to find time to do.

You can not under any circumstances talk to a end user in IT speak.   Firstly they are likely to not understand.   This breeds frustration and they see you as coming across as a dick.   That’s just how it is.  You are going to have to dumb it down, sometimes a LOT to help them.

Stupidity and ignorance will make you weep.  As intelligent and qualified some of the people are that you are going to interact with, when it comes to IT they just don’t know or don’t want to know.  You are going to be asked to do things that don’t make sense, are for all intense purposes impossible, are outside of your job role, and just make you shake your head in utter surprise.

My wife is by no means IT literate and I have friends that are.  When I talk about some of the shenanigans that goes on and I have to deal with, from both I get roaring laughter.   Don’t ever think you’ve seen it all, there is always going to be that new employee who is going to just surprise you.    Usually not in a good way.

Thats not to say that all end users are the same.   Some are gifted in their field of work, they just can’t articulate what it is they need you for.  Then you’ll find those on the other end of the spectrum, and I shudder having to deal with them.   Though, as a professional I need to treat everyone equally and tend to what ever the IT issue is.   That is probably the hardest part of IT.

Fixing computers, networks and the myriad of bits and pieces that make up a functioning system is easy – there are processes for that.  Keeping your knowledge up to date is easy too.

That hard part of IT, is people.

And whether or not they use manners, you always should.