As you know, I love to learn, and I’ve been looking to teach myself a variety of technology related things. I’ve worked in IT for many years, 10 to be more precise, and unfortunately I’ve fallen into helpdesk positions more times than not. As many of you know, this sort of work can be rather monotonous, and in many other ways unrewarding depending on the infrastructure. I personally believe that it’s the sort of work that makes for a great start in one’s career, but ultimately, you should move on from it. I don’t necessarily mean leave IT altogether, but to find your own niche in the field, whether you want to be a sysadmin, database admin, programmer, or a web designer…and of course there are more fields than the ones I’ve just listed.
What were the most rewarding experiences in your IT career?
There are so many to choose from, but I will pick three. My first IT job at Brooklyn College. The manager at the time Scott Yates (god rest his soul) took a chance on me, and I had just started out as a work study student. I shadowed the senior technicians, and started off taking care of minor tickets. There were times when I couldn’t solve the problem right away but continued on until I was able to resolve it. That feeling when you solved a user’s problem all on your own was a reward itself. It was that first job that gave me the experience and the confidence to begin an IT career.
The second most rewarding experience was as at New York City College of Technology. It was here that I discovered that I could do more than helpdesk work– So much more. I loved the work that I did there. Granted, there were some elements of helpdesk related work that needed to be done in terms of maintaining the labs and a few smart classrooms. But I also managed people, worked as a technologist, and learned some audio visual skills.
As a manager, I got to know the staff and what their skills were. I also realized as a manager that I needed my staff, and their skills were an important resource. Recognizing their abilities allowed me to properly delegate specific assignments and ultimately finish projects on time. I also had senior staff pair up with new staff for cross training, which worked out pretty well. Periodically, we would have meetings, but I urged them to talk while I listened and I tried to address any issues as best as I could. I felt it was important that my staff knew that I respected them, and that I was listening. I loved this part of my job the most.
As a technologist, I learned Blackboard 8 from front to back, and was responsible for writing up a tremendous amount of documentation, most of which was scrapped once we figured out what areas needed to be focused on most. I also taught classes on how to use it to both faculty and students. It was also through documentation writing that I came up with a few beginner documents for my new staff. I had senior staff write up any issues that they came across and document their solutions as well. This was very helpful in maintaining knowledgeable staff.
As a backup AV tech, I had a tremendous amount of fun learning about camera and lighting techniques. I was even allowed to do some recording on my own. Before the end of my career at the college, I was learning Final Cut Pro. Unlike my first two duties, this was only secondary, so I wasn’t able to learn as much as I wanted.
The third most rewarding experience was at The City College of New York. I essentially had to learn how to do SQL querying without any previous knowledge and I succeeded. The limitation of that is that I am mostly familiar with minor crud functions (create, read, update, delete). That’s about the sum of my experience there.
I think that ultimately, my most rewarding experiences involved me immersing myself into learning a brand new skill and mastering it.
What areas of technology are you personally interested in?
Wow, there are so many of them. I’m interested in learning product management and UI design. I lightly touched on the subjects during my Design and Implementation class. Product management was also a recommended field for me to go into, so perhaps I will research just what that entails and see if it’s a right fit for me. I also enjoyed technical writing when I worked at City Tech. I’m currently taking a certificate course for that, so I may take up a few technical writing projects after I’m finished. eBook publishing is another area that holds my interest. There had been a time where I wanted to go into publishing. The merging of the two areas seems like a great fit for me. I would also like to expand my learning of SQL, perhaps by building a database from scratch and learning more about creating database diagrams.
Who are the most influential people in your career?
There are four people: My mother, who started building her own computers as a hobby. She’s the one that got me into it. Scott Yates, who gave me my first job in the IT field. I wouldn’t be where I am were it not for him. Dr. Simon Parsons, my mentor, is another important influence in my career. I learned a lot when I was able to do robotics research. The work re-kindled my love of technology just when it was fading, and I also learned not to fear programming. I always found it so intimidating, but taking my time and having to do the research on my own gave me a little more confidence. Dr. Elizabeth Sklar who also ran the agents lab with Dr. Parsons when I did research there. For me, she embodies the female role model in technology. She’s highly intelligent and has many accomplishments. It doesn’t get more girl power than that!