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What shaped you into the IT pro you are today? Share your story and get 500 THWACK points!

Level 15

All of us had to start somewhere. Whether it was your first computer, a programming class in school, or that job that helped you get your foot in the door—there was a beginning. Origin stories aren’t just for super heroes. Even everyday unsung heroes had to be forged in the fire of greatness and molded to what they are today.

Every day is a new chapter. Life in IT never slows down and a new story is always unfolding. It’s not the problem you fixed yesterday or the solution you found today, but the collective IT expertise we gain along the way that keeps us coming back for more, every day. We believe that for every IT pro, there’s a success story waiting to be told, and we want to hear yours.

Video Link : 1105

In the spirit of reflection that comes with a new year, we’d like you to tell us how your IT story has unfolded. Share your experiences in the comments below and we’ll reward you with 500 THWACK® points. It doesn’t matter if your story is humorous, heroic, or humble—we’re interested in hearing what made you the IT pro you are today!

*Post your story by Friday, February 2nd, 2018 to receive credit. Points will be awarded the following week.

246 Comments
Level 9

For the most of my adult life I worked in the trades, physical work with my hands.  Back in 1998 I sustained a work related injury and was put on workers compensation, after two years on this they wanted to pension me off saying I could not do the kind of work I was able to do, so I fought with them to retrain me instead of pensioning me off, this way I could go back to some kind of work.

I then went back to school in the spring of 2002 and took the Information Systems Specialist program, I graduated with honors in the fall of 2003 and have never looked back, I have worked in the IT industry ever since.

Level 8

I grew up working in my family's deli where I quickly learned that great customer service was only the baseline. I had to go above and beyond to differentiate our store from others. Friendlier attitude and the relentless drive to deliver great service and to never stop. Now in IT I follow the same idea and this has enabled me to deliver great support not only to my customers but my coworkers as well.

Level 9

I started out 1996, learning with several friends learning how to network connect Doom and Duke Nukem 3D on a local LAN.   Got addicting to figuring out networking from there. Worked a contractor doing PC and Network refreshes for the 2000 panic.  Have worked for various IT companies ever since,  Just hit 20 years in the IT field this year! 

As a little kid, I loved watching old westerns and pioneer TV shows & movies--especially Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, and the like.  I loved those rustic role models and their little cabins in the woods.  It wasn't long before I was playing with Lincoln Logs building log cabins.  And then graduating to Erector Sets to build more industrial constructions.  Soon LEGO's and Hot Wheels were my passion as I learned more and imagined more.  Building things and receiving praise for my efforts from the adults & kids became the carrot--and the passion in my life.  And while chasing that praise I learned about leverage and stress and gears and motors and gravity and connectors. Not to mention "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey", regular washers versus lock washers, the difference between nuts and bolts and screws, and more.

As a pre-teen I'd ask my father if I could dismantle home appliances when they were replaced with new ones, and I'd ask him what work each part did in a washing machine, how electric motors worked, how the automatic transmission in a washer worked.  And he KNEW these things!  I was so impressed!

I'd already spent my life at my father's side learning about the plants and animals and weather and geology (he was an Earth Science teacher and a State Parks Naturalist--the first in Minnesota!), and I had an insatiable curiosity, for which he had patience and tolerance.

Operating riding lawn mowers and maintaining them, and the same with snowmobiles and outboard motors and home repair, was good practice for graduating into auto repair and maintenance, which I ended up supplementing with Auto Shop classes in college.  That empowered me and taught me about bad shops where mechanics recommended unnecessary work, and helped me identify which tasks I could take on myself with ease (complete brake jobs, carburetor rebuilds, replacing alternators, belt replacement, radiator fluid replacement along with thermostats, replacing fuel filters and spark plugs and spark plug wires, using a timing light to set engine timing, replacing condensers, setting distributor point gaps, etc.)--and which tasks were ones I'd rather pay for because I didn't have the time or skills or facilities or tools to do myself (transmission rebuilds and replacements,  piston work, etc.).

During that time, music was a huge part of my life--both listening to it on vinyl LP records and the radio, and performing it in front of others.  Which began the process of understanding microphones, cables, jacks and plugs, amplifiers, speakers, stereo components, lighting systems, recording, sound proofing, and more.

Anyone who's set up a band's mikes and amplifiers and speakers (or a complex component-based home stereo or theater system) can readily see the ease of crossing over from that to setting up the physical parts of an Ethernet network.  When the Internet was born, I was lucky enough to be in a job that had enough available discretionary time--and need-- that I could start terminating CAT5 cables manually, and using 110 punch down blocks, as well as installing 3Com 3C509 and 3C905 NIC's and tweaking their drivers, etc.  It wasn't long before I'd doubled my salary with my Networking skills, and was being sent for more advanced training to Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Fort Worth, San Diego, and Minneapolis.  Those classes taught me switch and router configuration, firewall setup and management and troubleshooting, wireless LAN's, HA network designs, security, and more.

That "life-long-learner" thing isn't just a phrase, and it's a lot more interesting than the dry presentations that kids get handed during lectures.  The trick becomes how to learn and retain useful ideas and skills by finding practical applications for them that are fun and interesting, instead of memorizing formulae.

For example, a common math question that kids ask teachers is "What does 'X' mean in an equation?  Why 'X', and not 'D'?"  Teaching a kid Pythagoras' Theorem is totally different than having them discover and derive it on their own.  Which can open the door to showing that math can be a tool to help them predict the future--predict how something will work, what it will require to work, whether it'll fit through a door, and more.  My favorite recent example of this was in an NPR broadcast recently, and included part of a TED Talk, where a Math teacher had to answer that same "Where did 'X' come" from question for his students--and for himself!  Listen to it here:  Terry Moore: Why is 'x' the unknown? | TED Talk

Math  students asked that question, and what X is good for.  One math teacher had an epiphany about how he'd make this dry algebra class interesting.  He put X into a physics problem featuring Yoda from Star Wars.  "How much strength must Yoda exert to lift Luke's Tie-Fighter out of the swamp in Dagobah?"  And the kids JUMPED on the problem with enthusiasm!  They identified the mass of the Tie fighter, they defined how high it was lifted, how quickly it was lifted, how far it was moved, and plugged those numbers into the Algebra equation and discovered Yoda expended just over 19 kilowatts of energy.  And just like that, the kids were off faster than he could keep up with, asking questions of him and each other, imagining measuring the power of Iron Man, of Super Man, of a bulldozer, of a rocket to Mars.  All because he was smart enough to stop teaching dry facts, and instead, show how those equations actually have practical meaning in the kids' world.

That kind of "Ah HA!" moment happens all the time for me--each time I learn a new IOS command, each time I learn a new protocol, each time I see VRRP and HSRP and EIGRP and RIP in action.  I can see their pro's & con's, can plan how to best prevent outages and how to effect the fastest automatic recoveries from outages.  I can KNOW what will happen when STP sees something new--especially if it's configured properly or improperly.

And ultimately (so far!) it's brought me to network monitoring with Solarwinds, and idea sharing through Thwack.  All from a start with Lincoln Logs and Daniel Boone.

Level 13

Luck for me my dad purchase a new IBM PC for his office when I was in high school.  So I had some knowledge with it.  When i was a junior in a small college IBM Corp gave us 15 PC's for our business department and I was the only one who knew how to set them up so I got my feet wet in PC support at a very young age.  The rest is history as I have been doing system administration for over 30 years now.

Image result for ibm pc picture

Level 9

I spent most of my childhood fixing the family's broken toys, installing electronic devices and showing people how to get the most out of their tech.  After a steady road of job changes and a general feeling of being unfulfilled, I threw caution to the wind and went back to school. A mountain of certification, degrees and debt later, I'd say I'm pretty happy

Level 12

I was in college typing a paper in the library with WP (I didn't know computers then), I hit some button and everything I was working on appeared to be gone. No one in the library could help me. I'm out to dinner later that night with friends and telling my sad story about my paper when one of them says, "I have a PC at home you can borrow for college."  That was it, I got it, upgraded it with a multimedia kit (which is to say that I installed a sound card and CD drive) broke the OS several times, rebuilt it several times, installed a modem so I could get on the internet and found a new passion.

Stepped out of my manual labor job into a temp job integrating PC's and servers and then about 6 months later landed my first full time IT job.

It's now 24 years later.....

Level 9

For me it started out with playing video games and setting up LAN parties. Eventually I wanted to just know how everything worked together to do what it did. My parents bought me an old Packard Bell with Windows 3.1 and I took off from there. Learned DOS, got hooked, and took every tech class I could get my hands on in school. Eventually this led me to pick a career in Networking and the rest is history. Been growing my network career for almost 15 years now!

Level 12

I had every basic computer since I was a teen, Tandy, Sinclair, Commodore.   Started early and kept on going.

Always interested in new technology and building my own systems.

Level 9

1989 my Grandfather purchased a Tandy 1000 sx I think was the model . I had just turned 5 and had never seen anything like it. We could fly a chopper or be in mother-goose stories. It felt like I was in Star Trek having such power at my fingertips. Ever since then I have been a techie . So thanks to Radio Shack , Star Trek , And My Grandfather.

Level 12

Always liked all things tech. Probably started with gaming until we had our first PC. From there on the interest grew. Though not actively pursuing it, a job came up which I went for and been in it ever since. The End.

Level 9

In December of 1975 while in the Navy, I began to learn to operate a CDC 3100 in Rota Spain. This was a huge machine operated via a typewriter, you would load your tapes onto the tape drives (by hand) and type in sequence numbers to get the computer to do what you wanted it to do. For example we would get transmissions for the States and had to expand the data from one tape to a scratch tape. (sequence 23, I'll never forget) This machine took up a whole room that was approx 30 x 30, and we were lucky if we had 1MB for disk storage. I marvel at what we have today compared to the old dinosaur of yesteryear.

Thanks for the memories...

Level 15

The curiosity to know how things happen, and the world of IT is very diverse. You can even do the same job but there is no routine, always have a different challenge, that motivates me.
It was the motivation that made me become more and more interested in being a professional in this area. My biggest dream is to do something that helps people improve their lives by giving them a chance to make dreams come true. I'm working on it and will soon be in the network for everyone to access.

MVP
MVP

In my case my father was in IT in the early 70's as part of the Army.  It was in the early 70s I went into the office with him on a Saturday while he did some work.  They had an IBM mainframe mounted in 2 50' air ride trailers parked side by side with a pass through on the side.  CPU, printer, console, and card reader on one side with the DASD and type drives in the other trailer.  I was all of about 7 or 8 when I had the chance to load my first 9-track tape and issue commands on the console.  That started the fire.  Later I learned basic on my grand fathers TRS-80 model 1 about 5 years later one summer.  Mid 80's I started working in the stock room of the IT department of Radioshack (Tandy Data Processing) and worked my way up the chain including several years as an operator before being picked to be one of the first 2 on the newly created Automated Operations team....back when the fad of the day was lights out operations.  Now the data centers are just as if not brighter than they used to be....just no operators in there anymore. I wondor now, how long until we head back down the lights out operations path again ?

Level 12

I grew up with an interest in things – all things… I always had a strong sense of curiosity in everything around me.  Mechanical, electrical, Environmental, History… Yup Everything. So that led me to finding a lifetime long friend in the local Libraries. These vast Brick and Mortar stoic buildings of knowledge. Many  evenings and weekends I roamed the aisles quickly learning the dewy-decimal system, and their  time-traveling Microfiche machines that would carry me back to the news stories of yesteryear, or looking through the past in the changing neighbourhoods by searching though building permits or civic development and planning documentation. Libraries amazed me basically anything you wanted to know it was there if you put in the effort to find it, and even then if not the Staff at the library was always there to assist. They even seemed to show a keen interest in whatever the subject was that I was looking into.  My father was a mechanic (Heavy-duty, medium and Small engine) so I spent a fair amount of time also looking and learning his trade-craft, he worked a lot on the Big Rigs, but also a side business on our everyday car and trucks. This exposed me to much of the Mechanical and electrical interests I have, as well as the ability to do much of the work on my families vehicles (admittedly it does not always bring me pleasure… ).

This drive I have for learning, my curiosity led me to take several courses in Jr High and High School, including Electronics (which included early Computer Sciences mostly industrial focused), but again the library stepped in to provide the background research material, that ended up creating an interest in computers. Of course there was no way I could see where or when the home computers would dominate, where SOHO would actually be possible.

I bounced around in several Career choices or interests, considered the Military (still regret not going down that path – “regret is an inevitable consequence of life”), worked towards becoming a cook (Core & Short-order, and Camp – worked under a major Hotel’s Banquet Chef), then more labour intensive jobs in Construction and Floor layer which I found very satisfying, just something about creating with your hands.. I still enjoy. Then I took a certificate course in Computerized Accounting… I aced both the computerized and the manual book work but found much of my free time I was helping the class with their Lab computers, (by the way accounting is NOT for me - It takes a very special brain to be able to do that on a daily basis Hat's off to them that can) … I guess it re-awoke something in my subconscious, my drive for knowledge. It was about this time we finally had a very basic Internet Café open up locally, well that opened a whole new library up for me… can’t tell you how many evenings and weekends were spent there – (I do think this was where my coffee addiction started though…) . It was not just the resources available on the internet, the people, the information, IRC, chatrooms and BBS – it became a “How does this work” moment…. Soon after I started working in sales – just to get closer to the tech and the vendors. Then moved to Northern BC where I started at Consumer and Small Business sales and then into Network sales. Once I felt comfortable with my skills and knowledge, I know it was time to swap from sales to support. So I beganChallenging the Vendor and Non-Vendor Specific Exams for Certifications, and once secured I approached a local Hospital where I did a short summer stint to prove myself, of which I received excellent references. This references opened the door for me and allowed me to be hired in a very large TELCO with international operations – which would provide me the opportunity for both experience (working alongside some very talented people) and for career growth. Since serving with them I have moved on to Municipal Government work, which is so much different than the Corporate World…  

Nearly 25 years in this field – the drive for knowledge and information is still strong in me, although I see retirement coming up fast and am equally ready to step away, although honestly I can never see myself losing the interest in technology and am looking forward to see where all this goes…

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Level 10

Just read Ready Player One and you will have a good idea as I can relate to James Halliday in this story.

I have always been fascinated with technology. When I was younger we got an Atari 2600, like the millions of other families, and I was hooked in this other world. From there I had a friend who's uncle had a Radio Shack franchise and I loved playing the text based games on the TRS-80, and another friend had an Apple II, which was just magical at the time.

I also lived in a University town, and would go to the university library and get on any green screen I could. At this same time we got a Commodore Vic-20, and then a 64. Oh the days of getting the magazine and copying the code line by line to make the game. Oh an going to K-Mart or Wal Mart and putting in:

10 Let x=x+1

20 Print tab x "Jim Rocks"

30 Poke 53280,x

40 if x=100 x=0

50 goto 10

Oh yes good times. In High school I was introduces to IBM PC's, but the print shop had this new think, a Macintosh, which was awesome.

Then when I graduated I joined the Army and began 10ish years of being a Helicopter mechanic. However as mechanically inclined I was, I was also great on the technology side, my primary aircraft was the OH-58D (The little one with the ball on top, and later armament on the sides). I understood how to get into the programming of some of the, at the time, some Top Secret sauce. Meanwhile I was taking correspondence courses and night classes in technology to learn Network Administration and Computer Repair.

When my stay with Uncle Sam came to a close I put in applications to both Aviation, as well as Computer Repair. And the Computer Repair got to me first. This was my first job outside Army Life, and my first job with a consulting company. In the 2 years I was with them I soaked up Admin skills, I got my Novell CNE and learned a lot, especially consulting with a large, but not largest Insurance provider in Bloomington Illinois.  From there I took my CNE skills to become a consultant for a part of Ameritech, and was secure in a great environment, or so I thought. SBC bought them out and they restructured consultants.

So next I went to another consulting firm, which was also an education and testing center. I was able to get charter member MCSE for Windows 2000 as I took all the tests but one in beta. I also was one of a few to get 1000 on the NT4 Workstation exam. Then I was part of a round of layoffs as the division I worked in had some Management issues and was bleeding money.

An to the next consulting gig. Where I grew in Novell and NDS/Groupwise, and also became an expert in Exhange as well as some new backup technologies at the time.

Next, due to cost of Insurance,and stability in small consulting firms, I left consulting to a mid sized healthcare environment. Where I am today, and still growing and learning in the process.

Level 9

My first experience with programming was to build a library system built in ANSI-C. Spent about 6-8 months in those pre-broadband days to write the software compile and setup on RedHat Linux. the wonderful feeling of getting it production ready and have our college library up and running is what led me to Software Engineering. RDBMS have some a long way and unbelievable how a no-SQL DB was not available then which could have made our life so easy.

Level 20

For me it started when I was just a wee wee child in California.  It was ages of 1-4 years old and in learning to read with mom's help my favorite book was the original "The Way Things Work."

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The next HUGE breakthrough for me was getting an Apple ][+ computer when I was 12!  This changed everything especially after getting a floppy disk drive and a 300 baud modem.  Boy that opened some doors for me.

Eventually this led to changing my major in college from Ceramic Engineering to Computer Science... I figured why not focus on what I've already been good at!  During my time in college the web browser was created and for the first time we weren't stuck in telnet, dumb terminals, and searching with archie!

After graduating with a focus on network communications I took a contract job working for DISA.  They sent me to all the original Cisco training courses.  Cisco became the company during those years... it was fun and a LOT happened.  Our monitoring system at that time was Sun Net Manager on SunOS and a new plug in called Cisco Works.

Later it was HPOpen view network node manager on HPUX.  Which leads us eventually to where we are today with SolarWinds and Orion!  Much has changed and yet so many things remain the same.

That was required reading in my house--a wonderful set of explanations!

Level 20

It really was one of the best books ever!  In searching for the original I found some newer updated versions.  I need to check out the new ones!

Believe it or not I had the book and never read it.     I must now find it and do so.    I di just read "Who moved my cheese"   I recommend this book to everyone i see.   took about 2 hours cover to cover, so yes its a small book.   Brilliant though for anyone.  

Level 20

Also really cool video wabbott​!!!

Level 20

I think that book was a big part of the reason I became a scientist.

Level 7

I went to school for an Electrical Engineering degree, but after college, I started out working as a VB .NET programmer.  Before too longer I found myself leaning toward infrastructure projects more than coding.  That's how I got started.

Level 15

Thanks!

S/O to our brand & video teams for making that one!

For me the IT pro was almost an accident.  Growing up, I had a family of chiropractors, electricians, carpenters, and a long history of military service.   I went the path less taken.   I wanted to be a doctor.  I wanted to help people with mental illness and psychological issues.   However the more I worked toward that goal the more i realized, or I believed you had to be crazy to fix it.   Since I didn't feel I was, well, crazy, I decided to go a different path.   My Pre-med roommate was sticking with his choice but the other two were engineering students.   I really liked helping them with their homework, so I started investigating.   My college had a robotics lab sponsored by AB.   If you don't know who AB is then you didn't drink enough adult beverages as a youth. 

I felt right at home, but I needed a discipline, Mechanical was well too mechanical, civil was well, too much time in the great outdoors without getting to enjoy it.   Electrical, that peeked my interest then I remembered I was better and getting my self shocked than designing electrical circuits.   Plus I have never liked software coding.  Then came Industrial.   Guess who owned that robotics lab, well Industrial Engineering it was.   So I specialized in the Robotics arena, scored a free math minor for my efforts.   I managed to then graduate and working before I ever left college, but uh, hated it, really really hated it.  Hate is a strong word, so let say it wasn't real exciting since I didn't have the dream job of designing dashboards in cars.   That was my goal if i didn't mention it before.   Ergonomics and such was all I thought about.   But something happened, I put my resume on file at the local chamber of commerce, and a local flour milling company calls me.  Now the only job they had posted was that of a production engineer, which I could do.   What I didn't know was they wanted me to work in MIS, well be the MIS department.  What happened next as they say is history.  Since 1996 I have never looked back.   Volunteering time in a local repair shop in the 90's to tune my skills and get cheap PC's, working with mega partners like Frito Lay, and Proctor and Gamble, I was introduced to larger IT.   I went on to mostly stay in Manufacturing where I currently am today, with only a brief stint in Health Care, and at one point a had a side business in Las Vegas where I did IT consulting for local bars and smaller casinos.

I found SolarWinds in 2004 and I still use it today.  its been with me at three companies now.   I have only had 4 jobs in the 22 years at this not counting my side business.   I always have that.   So that is me, my rise to IT stardom.  I was shaped by my desire not to do time studies and measure HVAC requirements forever....   Although I wouldn't mind managing engineers again.   I had a go with Software engineers an it was great.   Stick them in a dark room with a good PC and magic happens.   Easy as PI.....  but until then, I will keep doing what I do until I can no longer.

Level 10

My first computer experience was a Commodore 64. When I was younger the only way I could play video games was to browse directories using MS-DOS. I graduated to Windows 3.1 and bernoulli disk drives. I built my first tower with Windows 95 shortly after. My main motivation was a faster gaming rig. After a while, Networking became a priority because I did not have a coding mind (getting better though). I have been in Networking for almost a decade and get excited about new technology. I do not build gaming rigs anymore (not enough time at this point). Love technology though, wouldn't change my career path at all.

Level 14

I started with a basic computer class in school (it was actually more like a typing class on a computer, since they didn't really teach any computer language on the C64).  I also liked the atari, which led me into electronics.  After high school, I started an electrical engineering degree.  I liked it, but I hated doing all the basic classes.  I couldn't get into the engineering classes right away, so I lost some interest in college.  I dropped out (I would take that back, but I did return and finish 13 years later) and soon went into machinist work.  I found out quickly that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. 

I went into the Marines and became an Avionics technician on drones when they first came out.  So they were flying computers with computer control stations to video computer stations.   That was my "real" start into IT. 

From there, I got out and took a job building cables for a couple months, which quickly led to building an enterprise computer network that was to be deployed overseas.  I was really hooked!  Now, I do not see myself leaving IT!

Your story is particularly interesting to me, reading how you moved from one discipline to another, eliminating paths until you found yourself where you are today.

If a person has a knack for building or fixing or understanding or predicting, there are worse schools to become involved with than S.T.E.M. can be an amazing fit.

Level 10

I was in elementary school in the early 90s (and 89). I finished a Math test early, so my teacher said I could play Oregon Trail on the computer. When I tried to play it, it wouldn't launch! I tried to get my teacher to help, but she told me to go to the "computer lab" two offices down. Really all we did was play DOS games and learn to type. The computer teacher was also doing a class, so she had me write a phrase in my notebook. She said if I typed that phrase in, exactly like it was written, the game would start. I don't think I really believed her, but when I got back to the computer, I typed "autoexecute.exe" and the game started! What magic was this? From that day on, my thirst for all things IT would never be quenched.

Level 12

In middle school (circa 1976), I took an intro to computers class and was hooked after writing a tic-tac-toe game we played on a teletype (took about four minutes to program in your move and wait for the response). After high school I enlisted in the Marine Corps and became an OS360 Cobol programmer. From there worked as a pc tech for a printing company, gradually becoming a network admin. Now am a Sr Network Engineer with a great company. With every job I learned more about the field and am still learning and having fun!

Level 20

Did you fly a helicopter?

Level 17

I was working on my PhD in Mathematics and suddenly realized I could get a job that paid me money now, and wouldn't have to wait years to finish school before I could afford things like shoes. So I took a job as a software analyst and that was 20 years ago and now I don't care much for shoes because I prefer my slippers as I sip scotch at nights.

Level 12

Ooh-Rah!

Level 10

Not for anything IT related. I took a flight with a friend of mine in high school who had his license. He promised that I didn't have to pay for fuel if I got my license... fifteen years later, I had the chance to take lessons and eventually got my license. I never did anything aviation related for work, although it was a dream of mine. I still fly from time to time, but not as much as I used to.

Level 12

My parents bought my first computer, an Apple ][e, just after the next version of the Apple 2 series came out. I can't imagine a more perfect computer for learning about computers in the pre-GUI days! I could swap hardware components, pulling chips off boards to replace them. The BASIC included allowed me to start learning programming, and the occasional purchased software that came with source code helped me to further learn programming. My 300 baud modem allowed me to see the rest of the world - anybody here remember FIDOnet?

Years later I earned a computer science degree, but graduated when the economy was in a slump and nobody wanted to hire a new graduate. I was able to get a job in networking and, though I've had a few contract programming jobs since then, I've pretty much focused on networks and servers ever since.

Level 20

Wow that's pretty neat.  I've known many airplane pilots but not many helicopter ones!

Level 9

It's been each job I've had that has shaped me into who I am today.  I actually graduated with an Accounting degree and earned my CPA out of college.  Computers weren't that big at the time.  Although I had taken a couple of basic computer classes in high school, I didn't consider majoring in computers in college.  I did enjoy the technology and learning.  It was at my first job that they gave the opportunity to design and build their first network from the ground up.  They named me the Network Administrator and gave me a year to complete the project.  I jumped at the chance.  Within 5 years I was Director of IT and running the whole IT department.  I was young and still had a lot to learn.  Each position I've had since then has taught me something new and allowed be to grow even more.  With over 25 years of experience, I can still say I have a lot to learn.

I know teach part-time at a local college and enjoy every minute of it.

Level 10

Originally started in Biology, and began working towards my PhD. A year in, I realized, it wasn't for me. Spoke to some schools about their Medical Physics programs, these are the guys that run cat-scan machines, MRI machines, etc. Schools said they liked my bio background, but I needed to get some computer science courses under my belt before they would accept me. So I took some computer courses, and found I enjoyed it. Switched to a computer science MS program, and never looked back.

Did the Ph.D. ever happen?

My dad taught be to be a learner.  He started a pbx company when he retired from Maw Bell.  I went to work for him while I was in college.  He and his partners had one rule.  They worked on everything they could get a manual on.  So I constantly had to learn to read manuals and understand the underlying concepts.  Every job was a new adventure.

As I got older, I did not want to pull wire and program pbx's for the rest of my life and asked a friend of mine what he thought I should do.  He said learn SQL.

I taught myself SQL over a weekend and landed a new job.

I did the same with JAVA then Powershell,

I had another opportunity a few months back so I learned MVC on a vacation week from work and got a promotion.

Being pushed of the boat and expected to sink or swim set me on path of learning and adapting.

I lost a year of college because i had to start over once to fit everything in, but I am happy i did.   As for work, the biggest challenge i had was management.   to be or not to be.   I chose to be.    Now i am here and have been for years.  I like it but i must admit, sometimes I get a little jealous about the fun things others get to do, while I am making sure its on time, on budget, and relevant.  

Level 10

My aunt provided our family with a computer when I was about 8 and I was instantly hooked on learning about how it worked. In highschool I took a Cisco CCNA class that gave me a great understanding of computer networking and fueled my career interest in computer networking. Right before I was about to graduate with my bachelors' degree in Information Technology Management, I was given the opportunity to work as in intern in the data network group for a large local company. I thought the opportunity to get my foot in the door with a networking group was worth the risk of accepting an internship rather than a permanent job (entry level computer networking openings are basically non-existent here). The gamble paid off. I was hired as a permanent member of the network group and since then I've been privileged to work for a number of different companies, in various roles related to computer networking, implementing and supporting a wide range of technologies.

Level 8

my first pc was a p2 Pentium 350mhz.  that was in 1998 and I was pretty much hooked.  before that, I had to go to a friends house to get on the internet.  but I grew up doing farm work and basically wanted to see what how the other half worked and made a living.  from there, I did helpdesk work on my school campus as work study while I took classes in network admin.  after that, I worked a few call centers doing tech troubleshooting over the phone which was horrid.  then I landed a spot working in an actual network ops center in a real datacenter.  working in a noc is a great learning experience.

Level 12

I was working manufacturing and hating life.  A friend of the family said that if I can get my MCSE for Window NT that he could get me a job at Paul Allen’s company Vulcan Inc.  As I was about to complete the MCSE course the friend and his wife went through a nasty divorce. He ended up leaving Vulcan and moved to a different state. 

I ended up getting a simple helpdesk job at Microsoft as a vendor.  In time, I moved from one helpdesk position to the next and eventually moved up to Microsoft’s Global Network Operations Center (GNOC) as a network dispatcher.  I was told that if I can get a CCNA that they would hire me on full time.  That fell through so I ended up going to a group that designed, implemented, physically supported and decommissioned Microsoft network throughout the greater Redmond area, once again as a vendor.  It was awesome for the first year or so. But as all good things must come to an end, I was the low man on the totem pole I had to work the graveyard shift by-myself.  After a couple of months of being a ”Maytag-Repair-Man” I had enough.  I left Microsoft for a job with the City of Seattle. 

I joined a team that basically did the same body of work as the one at Microsoft.  However, with my past experience at Microsoft's GNOC I was moved to the City’s NOC shortly after hire. My new role was network management, supporting the City’s network management software and basic NOC work. I remained in that position for the past 13 years. 

Recently I moved out of the NOC where I primarily support Solarwinds along with some other enterprise applications. Funny enough, I actually do not support the nodes in Solarwinds, but rather Solarwinds itself along with the other enterprise applications.

Level 14

My mom worked for an insurance company in Boston in the early 1950's and she worked on one of the early computer systems there. She would tell me stories about the fixes and changes and working late to make things work.

Fast forward to December 1980, laid off from my job in retail management, 3 weeks later my 2nd child was born. Two weeks after that (Mid January 1981),one of my sisters got me a job for a company that did the galley work for two regional phone companies (pre breakup (New England Tel and Southern New England Tel). I worked 2nd shift and my job was to de-collate two and three part reports for shipment to these TELCO's and internal users.

I quickly learned the Sperry Univac TDOS system we used, but there was a VAX/VMS system that we were migrating to the nobody in  computer operations seemed to care about. I was transferred to 3rd shift and in my downtime I learnded VMS and DCL for the ground up. About six months later I wrote all the utility streams for backups, recoveries and transfers and when we went live a year later, I was kind of an in-house expert. From there I kept moving and improving my skills and technical knowledge in industries from publishing, manufacturing, government systems support, software distribution and then a startup. In 1995 I went to work in financial services and have been in this area since (mutual funds and retail banking-(credit unions and banks)). My goal at every twist and turn was to learn and use my knowledge as a pathway to my success and my employers success. I've managed computer operations, systems groups, programming/QA groups, network support areas, application support teams. I've managed 2-3 person teams all the way up to 30 person teams and was #2 for a 85 person team. All the while keeping my hands in the pie. (It's never boring).

I've learned a lot and experienced more. I can't imagine doing anything else.

Level 17

No sir. I took my MS and used that to find employment instead.

MVP
MVP

I totally by accident came to work in the computer industry. I'd finished school in 87 and did a "travel course". Of course I couldn't get a job anymore as I didn't have the 3 year experience they all seemed to require. So then in early 1989, I applied for a computer sales person job. I had zero computer knowledge at this point. Strangely I got the job. So I learned everything I needed to know on the job. It became apparent I was a pretty crappy sales person, so I just kept on with the technical side of things (building and maintaining computers). Then in 1993 I got my CNE (certified Novell Engineer). I stayed in this job until 1995 when I got sick of the low wage I was receiving. I moved to a new job where I am still today (22.5 years) and now do all things Cisco.

MVP
MVP

Ever since I was a kid I was into sports (Table Tennis) and I did OK (or more than OK ) , made it to the nationals (represented my state and university a couple of times) before i retired from the sport (International was always a dream and remained so till the very end, I don't repent though, pretty much satisfied with what I could achieve in a 10+ year sporting career).

'My Dad' is my 'HERO' and it was he who asked me to get into Bachelors in Computer Science and I did so, blindly ...... , even after having a Bachelors degree I did bother much to find a job in IT and continued with my sport, it was in 2003 that I realized I couldn't continue like this anymore and decided to get a Masters in Computer Science which I did, this was the very first step I took towards IT.

Post Masters in 2006 I started working as a services info developer (which included multiple things like building network topology maps, web based gui, scripting - perl, shell, tcl, tts, jyton, openjacob, java, ajax etc ....................)  and in 2007 I moved into enterprise monitoring tools, since then I have been a monitoring engineer (designation/role would change based on the company but then I have been with tools administration plus monitoring for the last 10+ years ). Over the years I have worked on HP TeMIP, NNM, OVO, BAC, RAMS,Alcatel SQM, Nagios XI and Solarwinds suite of products , that's my story of how I got into IT.

I have worked with a couple of firms, lot of managers, lot of teams and a lot of IT pros till date, what I enjoy the most in IT is 'perception and thought process', when you interact with 'n' number of IT pros you get to know how different they are from you and what their though process is, a whole new world is visible to you when you look at things from their perception and you always get to learn something new and something different that you  could have never thought of before, the more you interact or the more you read on how they reach to a conclusion is what makes you a better pro (you might have a solution but it might not always be a best fit, you could be right 7 out of 10 times, how about the remaining 3 ? -> that's how we always get to learn new things and thwack is one of the best global forums that I have ever been on, thanks to all the folks on thwack I have learnt a lot from you  )

Level 12

I started out as a receptionist and really wasn't very good at it. Then I grew into other positions that required a lot more computer skills which I found that I was a lot better at than receptionist. Then I started to repair and show other how to do things so I said one day why not try IT so I went to school for it and then my journey began from there. The most valuable skill in IT is hands on experience not everything you learn or do is from a text book.