Only IT Personnel, any room for growth?

kharkenkharken Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
I am working for a small company which is not in the IT industry obviously as I am the only IT guy supporting the company. I've been there for only 6 months and so far, I have been enjoying it. People are nice, I feel I am needed, and I get to solve problems which I love. They have been very impressed with my performance as I resolve tickets in a timely manner, even fast that they are so shocked. I guess the previous IT guy was a slacker. Anyway, just recently I decided to pursue certifications to that I could add some skills and increase my worth. I guess another reason for this is I want a better paying job that has enough growth and where I could learn more.

So far these are the things I have been managing/learning:

1. Windows Server 2003 particularly Active Directory (currently in the process of upgrading to 2012 R2)
2. Network maintenance
3. Third party applications support that the company uses (their support seems crappy so I felt the need to solve the user's problems)
4. Computer Support
5. Data Backup
6. Continuous Improvement (like server upgrades, application upgrades, just making sure that everything works flawlessly and efficiently)

I know it's just basic IT support/help desk support but I am learning which is important regardless of job position. The one thing I am worried about is what do I do if I have already attained that? How would I grow/advance if I am the only IT personnel in the company. There is no IT manager in the company as I feel they don't need that due to the size of it. I am also in a small city, hours away from LA so IT jobs are really not abundant.

TL;DR: IT support for small company for 6 mo., working on certifications to increase worth, worried about growth if there's any; WHAT TO DO?

/edit: Certifications planning to get: A+, Network+, Security+, Server+, CSA+, CASP, CISSP, MCSA Windows Server 2012 (still thinking)


  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    So at some point you *will* hit a limit of diminishing returns in this role as far as your IT skills are concerned. It might take a couple of years. Basically, if you keep studying, your skills will grow beyond what they can use.

    However, in the meantime you are in a fairly good position as you have a good amount of control over IT in that organisation as the only IT person. What that means is that you can explore options for improving their set up that will also improve your skills. For example, you could look at virtualising their servers, and teach yourself HyperV or VMware to do it. You could move their email/calendar/contacts to G Suite or Office 365. You could start writing powershell scripts to automate processes. You could create an SOE image for deploying to their computers. You could learn more networking and security, and set up security zones in the network.

    Those kinds of projects help your employer, and help you learn, and also make good things for putting on resumes/blogs/linkedin and talking about in job interviews.

    The other thing that you can do, and this might enable you stay at this company longer, is to go deeper into the business side. You could learn formal Business Analysis skills, contract management and negotiation (for external suppliers like internet, applications, support, web hosting etc), maybe project management, finance and human resources.

    If they are amenable, you might even be able to start moonlighting down the track taking on external projects.

    The only word of warning I'd give you, is don't stay too long and let yourself stagnate. Keep growing in the role, and growing well. Over time the growth will slow, and that's a warning sign to explore a new role, either with your existing company or outside.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • kharkenkharken Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you for this. I guess I really needed that since I am not sure if I will grow here (monetarily) since there is no next level for IT. It's just learning that will keep me growing as a professional.

    I also forgot that we have VMware for several of our servers so that is one interesting subject to master. They have been using Kerio instead of exchange for their email when I got there. I have a lot of fixing to do as their IT infrastracture lacks organization esp in AD.

    I know this depends on me but in your opinion, how long should I stay in this company before considering jumping ships? Some employees here have had a record of at least 10yrs staying in the company. I want to get raises as I improve my skillset and my contributions to the company but I don't know when they will give me that? Will I have to ask for it or would they be able to see the improvements I've done?
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Kerio, eh? Well, that's a good excuse to move to G Suite or Office 365. My experience is that it's a lot of effort to keep running, and for small organisations that's a lot of effort per user.

    If you do get into a renovation kind of mood, be careful not to take on too many things at once. One (maybe 2) projects at a time. Otherwise you can swamp yourself, and can start to cause disruption to the business, things don't get finished, and you can end up looking bad.

    If you want to get a raise, then it is useful to be able to say "I saved you x amount of money" or "that new system means that we can now do this thing better". If you can show something concrete that you've done that's making (or saving) money for the business, they'll be more likely to see your value.

    As for how long you stay? That depends a bit. 2 years is fairly typical in IT to stay in one role, but if you get a promotion in this role (eg new title, more money), and you are still growing your skills, then maybe you can stay longer. It is also a good idea to make a note of what you are doing, when you do it, keeping your resume up to date, and then checking the job market at least every 6 months to get a sense of what you might be worth.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • kharkenkharken Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I really do plan on renovating some things 'cause it's kind of messy and the previous IT guy was a slacker, disorganized and not systematic.

    I haven't researched yet on G-suite and Office 365 but do you think that is a better option than Kerio ( in terms of functionality and cost)? Kerio works as an Exchange alternative but sometimes I feel that it's missing something (or requires too much work to maintain). One example would be, most of the users receive spam messages (like A LOT OF THEM). The previous IT guy even set the spam rating and spam blocking score to even below 2 (out of 10) to block the spam messages. But with this, legitimate emails are getting blocked also. The spam detecting software is so inefficient. I even setup an email where spam would be forwarded and I'll go through the email subject one by one to verify if the email is indeed a spam or a legitimate email.
  • OctalDumpOctalDump Member Posts: 1,722
    Spam filtering is challenging to do well in small IT shops. It's one of the things that really benefits from scale. So normally, if you are using an in house mail server you'd look at using a third party (probably cloud based) spam filtering service like Symantec Email Security.

    Last time I looked at good third party spam blocking, it was about the same cost as going to G Suite/Office 365, which have pretty good integrated spam filtering (actually, it's really good). And you don't have to maintain firewalls (for email), servers, storage, backups... And G Suite/O365 give your users nice web interfaces, easy mobile access, plus the other bundled functionality. But you should check this out for yourself, and weigh up the options.
    2017 Goals - Something Cisco, Something Linux, Agile PM
  • kharkenkharken Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks! I'll definitely look into this.
  • PocketLumberjackPocketLumberjack Member Posts: 162 ■■■□□□□□□□
    It sounds like a great gig for the resume, I would stay until you have a couple years and Certs. It also sounds like a nice mix of things to do. And the chance to upgrade things will be good project experience. I would say look at job postings of where you want to be in a couple years and use this place as a change to get some relevant experience.
    Learn some thing new every day, but don’t forget to review things you know.
  • yoba222yoba222 Senior Member Member Posts: 1,127 ■■■■■■■■□□
    That looks like a good 3-4 years worth of certs. I'd do the A+ and then the Network+. Then pause and reevaluate. Have you hit diminishing returns yet? If not do the Sec+. Reevaluate. Do another cert on your list. Rinse, repeat, reevaluate. Do this particularly at the 1 year point, but consider moving on before the 2 year point.
    A+, Network+, CCNA, LFCS,
    Security+, eJPT, CySA+, PenTest+,
    Cisco CyberOps, GCIH, VHL,
    In progress: OSCP
  • kharkenkharken Member Posts: 29 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks! I'll take this as a guide for my career.
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