10 Years - Reflection on Time in IT

the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
Yesterday as I was driving it dawned on me that I have been in IT (or very close to it) for 10 years (full time) now.  I wish I could say the time has flown by, but that is definitely not the case.  In the past 10 years I've run the gauntlet of IT:  help desk, phone support, network administration, system administration, network security, penetration testing, auditing, investigations.  Everyday has been different and the same which is odd, but seems to be the norm in this industry.

What have I learned?  What would I do different if I were starting out?

Work for an MSP.  There are big ones and small ones.  It's nice because you will get exposed to various technologies all at once.  Every environment is different and learning about each will build you into a better tech.  Plus at most places you could move to different teams given some time.  I know at the place I worked at we had someone who started as just a ticket taker, but eventually they started doing the easy stuff when the call came it.  Shortly after, they moved onto the help desk team.

Never stop learning.  It's really easy to get comfortable in this industry and that leads to clock punching.  It's tough to work all day and then come home to continue studying or labbing, but if you don't do it you'll be stuck.  I know a lot of old guys who have just withered because they didn't want to put in the time to upgrade their skills.  Even when the company is paying for it they aren't taking advantage of the programs available to them.

Have a plan.  I've always been a planner, so my plan A has a B, C, D and E backup.  Eisenhower said, "Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."  Nothing ever goes according to plan, but in the process of planning you can see the pitfalls and account for them.  This is as true to your life as it is to a big migration or other work related project.

Major in Computer Science.  I know a lot of people won't agree with me on this, but this is really my only regret in my career.  CS opens a lot of doors and still allows you to work in IT.  Two of my buddies were CS grads and both work in IT.  One had two minors in IT and the other just stayed at the job where he got an internship.  Being able to code alone is definitely worth it's weight in gold so at the very least minor in CS if nothing else.

Exercise.  You don't need to be a marathon runner, but doing 30 minutes a day of some activity will definitely change things for you.  We sit all day long and it definitely doesn't do us any favors.

Speak your mind.  I've gotten far in my career because I have never been afraid to speak up.  I'm not saying just be a complainer, have a plan or some way to fix something, but if something isn't working or isn't right speak up.  This alone has allowed me to work in positions normally someone like me would not have gotten.  People know if I raise an issue, it's an issue and that I am honest about it.  That means owning up to mistakes as well.

Do the job nobody wants.  I was told this in the academy, but it has been something I've done for most of my working life.  Friday I got stuck with a duty nobody wanted and was a complete drag, but it also let me talk to some people I would not have met otherwise.  Learned quite a bit and that made the 12 hour day worth it.

Save for retirement.  This for me happened much later then it should have and it has definitely cost me quite a bit.  I was always like, "man I need every cent I make", but at the end of the day when you look at what you get after putting in a few bucks you realize it isn't that bad.  Maybe one less lunch a week or one less coffee (or Monster) could mean a huge difference when your time comes to stop working.  I know a lot of guys who are onto second careers and not by choice.  It's fine if you wanna keep working or to get another job for some extra cash, but you never want to have to do it.

Network, network network.  This is the way of the world and a lot of jobs come from knowing someone.  A buddy of mine has gotten every job he's had because of people he knew.  My current job came from working with guys here on a case.  You never really know who or what might be the source for your next job.

Intro to Discrete Math
Programming Languages
Work stuff


  • chrisonechrisone Senior Member Member Posts: 2,232 ■■■■■■■■■□
    edited October 2019
    Thanks for sharing! Retirement education is where I am lacking too. 

    Edit: Reflecting on my first IT helpdesk/Systems support job back in 1999/2000. Wow 19/20 years ago
    Certs: CISSP, OSCP, CRTP, eCTHPv2, eCPPT, eCIR, LFCS, CEH, SPLK-1002, SC-200, AZ-900, VHL:Advanced+, Retired Cisco CCNP/SP/DP
    2022 Goals:
    Certs: EnCE (in progress), eCPTXv2 (in progress), eCMAP, eCRE
    Course: BC Security - Empire Operations 1 (Jan 28th), Zero Point Security - CRTO (course completed), Zero Point Security - C2 Development in C#
  • Johnhe0414Johnhe0414 Network+, Project+ USA, CARegistered Users Posts: 181 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I really enjoyed your reflection...and then WOW...after reading this, i had to think back when I left retail for an IT position. This month marks 20 years for me.
    Current:  A+ | Network+ | Project+ |Security+
    Working on: PMP
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,781 Mod
    well, this will age me (LOL). I have been in IT since 1994. About 25 years or so. Back when Novell was around. 
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,926 Mod
    edited October 2019
    What a coincidence, I am also celebrating 20 years in IT this month. Do we get a special pin or something? Free Infosec training? Anything?
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Security +, ITIL Foundation, MPT, EPO, ACAS, HTL behind youMod Posts: 2,781 Mod
    a cup of coffee, maybe? 

    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,397 Mod
    I love reading those threads, and your journey has been inspiring. You work hard and you constantly upskill.

    Here's to many more decades of excellence!

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • UnixGuyUnixGuy Are we having fun yet? Mod Posts: 4,397 Mod
    @Johnhe0414 @scaredoftests @cyberguypr time for your 20 years anniversary threads!

    Check out my YouTube Channel!

  • the_Grinchthe_Grinch Member Posts: 4,165 ■■■■■■■■■■
    LOL glad I'm not the only one.  It was funny because it does just suddenly dawn on you how long you've been in the industry.  I guess the kicker is that when you started you don't really think 10 years down the line, maybe a few months, but more likely just getting through that day.  It goes like that for a long time till you get a bit of experience and then you forget to even think about the time that has gone by.

    I also think it also comes down to the awe of it when you first start.  I've worked with some real experts in their fields and somedays I would just sit back thinking, "will that ever be me?".  One day it does turn out to be you and not that it makes you arrogant, but at the same time you see what those you were in awe of were thinking.  You see that it wasn't necessarily that they had all the answers, but more so they had the thought process to arrive at an answer for just about any problem.

    Now it's all about the roadmap for future growth!  Pleasure as always all!
    Intro to Discrete Math
    Programming Languages
    Work stuff
  • Chrisbari14Chrisbari14 Member Posts: 83 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Great thread! I just made 4 years this year! Will take a lot of things you stated into account. The certification thing hit home for me! 
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 2,033 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Been in IT since December of 2003. The time has flown by.
    Alphabet soup from (ISC)2, ISACA, GIAC, EC-Council, Microsoft, ITIL, Cisco, Scrum, CompTIA and more.

    2022 goal(s): CRISC, maybe CGEIT

    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • PCTechLincPCTechLinc Senior Member King City, CAMember Posts: 646 ■■■■■■□□□□
    For me, March of '99.  Can't really believe how much has happened since then.
    Master of Business Administration in Information Technology Management - Western Governors University
    Master of Science in Information Security and Assurance - Western Governors University
    Bachelor of Science in Network Administration - Western Governors University
    Associate of Applied Science x4 - Heald College
  • datacombossdatacomboss Member Posts: 304 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I've been in IT mostly since working in computer labs as an undergrad in the early 90s in roles ranging from mainframe operations to VP of IT.

    Having an aggressive retirement plan and having the discipline to follow thru is the best thing you can do.

    You need to make sure you understand your options for retirement saving at your place of employment (401K, 403b, 457, etc.) and outside of work (traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP or i401K if you have a side business) and the types of savings vehicles offered (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, etc).
    "If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things, then I should have said, 'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life."

    Arthur Ashe

  • YarBYarB GermanyMember Posts: 11 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Wow! Great post. I should say, it is very useful for beginners. And it is great that your every day has been different. Thanks for sharing your experience!
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