Looking back over my life is both exciting and HORRIFYING. Let me explain. I was 18 and graduating LPN school in a little town in Oklahoma. I thought I had life by the horns, let me tell you. I was going to quickly excel and run away in a medical career and never look back. Obviously, you all know me and understand that was not my future at all. However, if you would have told me then my future involved databases, networks, servers, and security, I would have laughed my butt off.

How did I have such a pivotal change at 18 that literally decided the rest of my life? I hated being a nurse in the real world. Other nurses weren’t following proper procedures and regulations. I saw friends get placed in bad situations due to other nurses’ negligence. I developed a keen awareness of these things called germs and how I was literally bringing these newfound friends home every day all day to my family. Long story short, I was in a dilemma about my foreseeable future.

Immediately after a long shift, I enrolled online into my first A+ and CCNA class at vo-tech. The rest is history. But what lesson did I learn and what would I tell myself looking back on the life I literally had planned since I was 10 years old? Relax, because you’re not going to be in the medical field and you’re a natural learner. Hey, life will fall into place. When I made the decision to get into IT, my family was so mad at me and I was sick all the time because I was fighting my way to the top every day.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for being the only woman in a room and searching and struggling for these answers and defending every idea. But, strangely, I loved the fight and the way it made me be sharper and study stronger. So, to all my family that were against me walking away from my dream and literally allowing me to buy out Walmart of all Pepto and antacids, thank you. Because you helped me to be the independent, pain-in-the-butt, stickler-for-security woman that I proudly am today.

To myself, well heck, looking back, I loved every trial. Every teary-eyed moment of rejection of ideas and every win that started to outweigh the losses. In the end, I’d just tell me, “Yeah, you’ll never do that medical stuff,” and to follow my heart instead of the dream I thought I once had.


Top Comments

  • Dez​, this is a fantastic article!  And thank you for being a strong role model for not only your daughters but to all women, everywhere!

    I started playing with computers early in life.  For Christmas, 1977, my father gave me the "Science Fair Digital Computer Kit" by Radio Shack, which was a clip-and-wire device with which you could build basic AND/OR/NAND/NOR circuits (which I still have today, BTW, but it no longer functions).  Little did I know that that gift would propel me headlong into the "IT" universe.  It was shortly thereafter that my school purchased TRS-80 Model I computers, and I started cutting my teeth on programming.

    Now, around the same time (1975, to be exact) a vagabond music teacher named Dorothy Cooney introduced me to an instrument called the Viola (for those who don't know, the Viola looks very much like a Violin on steroids and it is tuned a fifth lower).  I took to it fairly well, and actually started to make a career out of it; I found that I had a LOT of natural talent, and (sadly, looking back) I developed an attitude that I didn't need to practice, things just came to me.  I continued playing all throughout grade school and high school, qualifying all four years for Denver's Citywide Orchestra and Colorado's All-State Orchestra, though I never made principal (first chair), so that should've told me something...oh to be that young and foolish again...NOT!  Everything was looking like I was going to go into music as a career, that is until I got to college.  I won't bore you all with the gory details, but suffice to say I had several "come-uppances" and upbradings that made me question whether I really wanted to go into music.  I started college and the University of Northern Colorado (the "OTHER" UNC!) as a double major: performance and education.  After a couple of years, I found that I really wasn't cut out for the double, so I switched to strictly ed.  After another couple of years, I found that I wasn't good teacher material, so I switched to strictly performance.  After another couple of years, and a few falling-outs with the profs, I dropped out without actually matriculating, a decision I don't regret in the slightest!

    So picking up the first story in 1992, after continuing to build and play with computers and networking during the 80s, I went to work for a computer company in Greeley, CO, where I had attended college, as an inside sales rep.  Finding that I wasn't that good at sales (at the time), I moved to the support world and after one thing leading to another, I find myself here.  After 40 years in the industry, I probably am as rusty as the spring clips on my "Digital Computer", but I still love what I do and, like  you,Dez​, I found early on that I am a very fast learner.  I also discovered something that has really helped me in the IT universe: I'm not afraid of technology.  I see so many people cringe in fear when something breaks or doesn't work, whereas I view it as a challenge and I'm like, "Heck, yeah! Let me at it!!"  People will walk by my desk when I have laptop guts splattered all over my cubicle and say, "I'm glad that you know what you're doing!" to which I will usually respond, "Yeah, I don't...and that's half the fun!" ;-)

  • I originally thought when I started engineering school that I wanted to be a ceramic engineer and make superconductors and heat shields... well since I'd already always been a computer kid since the age of 12 and got my Apple ][+ computer and a 300 baud modem and already been on that path...  I decided in school that I might as well just get my computer science degree instead and it worked out just fine.  When I first started working with networks after school we still had novell, banyan vines, and lot of token ring.  I was sent to take some of the first classes Cisco created and it pretty much changed my life/career.  The job listing I responded to after school said they were looking for someone experienced with bridges, routers, and brouters.  This was how I got started on the Cisco train and also how I first crossed the department of defense in the US.  At the time the branches of the military were running their own networks... Army had milnet, Navy had navnet, AF had afnet.  We were setting out to build the new shared networks... NIPR, SIPR, DREN, and core.  In the end it's all worked out.  I'm not sure I'd really change anything.

  • I spent my early life thinking I wanted to be a doctor. Later, I'd do badly in my studies which (as well as realising that I hate people in my core emoticons_happy.png) made me rethink things. I liked the science side. I did a degree in Biomedical Sciences, spent a year washing dishes in a kitchen trying to find an NHS job, got one that was way under my qualification level but the jobs are all outcompeted, spent a year there and moved to a transplant lab in a different part of the country. 4 years of trying to get qualified to "go and live the dream" (of working a slightly better, slightly better-paid job) later and having met with some political resistance, I came to my crisis point and said that I'd had enough. Talked it over with the SO, over a year we went down a number of routes which I didn't like and she eventually said "well, why don't you get a job in IT, since you spend all your time on that server anyway"...

    1st job: 1 year, >150 applications, > 30 interviews, technically got none of them (but they ended up needing another person straight away and didn't want the interview process)

    2nd job: 1 year, 40 applications, 10 interviews, about 4000 miles travelled (in the UK it's a bit more of a deal, I guess), 1 job offer.

    3rd job: 2 weeks, 2 applications, 1 interview, 1 job.

    4th job: I had to move to London recently as a life-development thing with the SO. Wrote my CV up over 2 weeks maybe, applied on the Sunday and had a phone interview on Tuesday, an in-person interview on Thursday, and the job offered later that day.

    If you had told me that those last two could ever happen to me, I wouldn't have believed you.

    I wish I hadn't spent 12 years working towards something I only thought I enjoyed.

    To add to that, I'm white, mid (late now...) 20's, and male. I can't even imagine how people who are the victims of bias, conscious or otherwise, manage to get through. You people are inspirational, and a testament to human willpower.

  • Loved reading this emoticons_happy.png it's so inspirational how you loved the fight, even the times ideas were rejected, you fought through and seemed to enjoy every minute! emoticons_happy.png

  • This is awesome, I appreciate you sharing.  If not for SolarWinds I’m not sure I would have been so willing to jump to different genres of IT.  Each modules we added I had to know more and dove in so I could support it.