Jun 20 2013

What My First Job in IT Taught Me

Three IT workers share their experiences from way back when they first started out in the industry

The data suggests that now is a good time to enter the IT field. Job growth in IT has been consistent for several years, despite recently weathering harsh economic climates in the United States.

While the opportunity for growth and development abounds in the field, the key to succeeding in IT is to land that door-opening first job in IT.

Experience is everything in IT, and memories of the early days of digging through nightmarish networking closets builds character. Or patience. And you’ll need both as you grow into your career in IT.

We reached out to three IT workers to hear firsthand accounts of how they first entered the industry.

Duwayne Engelhardt: Technology Director for Wallis State Bank

In 1982, I got involved because I used an Apple II to help me with administering my high school band program. I was a band director for 18 years, being forced to do computers full time. Also in 1982, my wife was doing bookkeeping for a friend, and I convinced her it would be easier to run accounting and the spreadsheets on a computer than doing it by hand.

In 1994, I was reassigned to teach computing and manage the school’s network, and thus began my career in computing. My claim to fame was that I was a certified Commodore repairman. I really preferred teaching band, but I was not given the choice.

Computers are fun in that I love to solve problems that give others headaches. I hated losing contact with the students I taught and the beauty of music when played artfully. I am still a professional guitarist though, so I do have an outlet for my music.

Follow him on Spiceworks @DEngelhardt

Rick Vanover: Product Strategy Specialist for Veeam Software

My first substantive IT job was an internship doing PC support for an executive office. It was everything I had imagined and more than my expectations at the time. It was a never-ending fountain of opportunity to learn and improve.

I specifically did them in that order, partly because of my limited experience at the time, but also to develop a better foundation for decisions.

I loved the varied nature of my job, since I ended up moving from PC support to server administration.

In my first role in IT, one of the things I hated is oddly one of the things that give me grief today: applications that we can’t change. I’ve gone on record many times trying to advocate to “change the app” as a way to embrace virtualization, but for 15 years now, the battle remains the same.

Follow him on Twitter @RickVanover

Shayne Kawalilak: Network Systems Analyst for Rosenau Transport Ltd.

My first two IT jobs were short network administration internships, which were followed by an eight-year stint as a network systems analyst at a company that paid me like an intern.

That first job [as an analyst] was a huge blessing, as I later decided that project management was where I wanted to be. That job gave me the opportunity to work 70 to 80 hours a week for several years straight. Half my time was spent in an IT department with another geek, keeping watch over 100 users, and the other half was spent in the systems group doing consulting for different clients all over North America and Europe.

This role gave me the opportunity to travel around North America over a period of several years and allowed me to work with some of the most interesting market-leading technologies in the world.

If I had been asked if that first job was everything I thought IT would be, I would answer a resounding “Yes, and a whole lot more!” It was here that I honed both my love of learning and teaching as well as my skills at thinking outside the box.

Follow him on Twitter @SpiceWorksCLGR