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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.

Level 8

Rebuilding NCR cash registers in a department store. A customer was curious what I was doing and I mentioned it was just a glorified 386 computer. She gave me a card to interview at a tech company and that is how I got started in this business 27 years ago.


Best described as a series of unfortunate events.

Was already an established, confident, technically oriented lead a very, very long time ago.

Maybe a little too confident?

Working on a file server running OS/2

Needed to re-format a disk in the server, so carefully copied all the data from D to E to keep it safe

Off to fdisk to get rid of the partition and then format the new drive.

Go back to server and to the empty D drive to copy data back only to find E is missing and no data to copy back.

In my haste to get it done quickly I missed that D & E were two drives in the same partition, so my quick disk work was now a slow file restore.

Only saving grace was that at least I had a proper back - even if I thought I didn't need it.

Lesson learned.

  • Take the time to understand what you're doing and why
  • Look for the risks and mitigation - before starting the work
  • Do things the right way, not the fast way

It took me another 20 years to make a mistake like that again.

But then everyone laughed at me, because they thought I NEVER make mistakes like that.

That was 5 years ago and my reputation for not making stupid mistakes is intact.

One thing that always mitigates things like that is freely admitting when it happens.

I always admit when it would have happened, so others can see why I take the care I do.

Level 8

I thought Programming would be the way to go since so many found their fortunes with it.  So I signed up for a 4-year degree in Computer Science and realized how terrible software development really is, at lease to me.  So my first IT job was as a Technician where I found a love for servers and networking.  I studied hard, achieved a few certifications, and became the Senior Systems Engineer for my company within 6 years!  When others ask me if Information Technology is a good job, I simply smile and say "Sure, if you don't mind getting phone calls 24 a day, get told all you do is play on a computer, and get treated like you are making THIER job more difficult.....then sure, it's for you!".

Level 9

I started on BBSs and AOL before it had the WWW. I stumbled into IRC and cut my teeth as a script-kiddy to learn more. Then it just exploded into the endless flood of new ideas and things to learn and do. PC Gaming in college with friends pushed me to learn more about hardware and networking because there was no campus network in the 90s so we created our own...much to the dismay of our Resident Director. I think the fun with friends really drove me into IT work more then anything else.

Level 7

I started accidentally. I used computers as tools as an Engineering Technician and one day the tool kept shutting down. We had no onsite IT (very small company) so I started tinkering with it because I knew a bit about Electronics (was also enrolled in a Engineering program at ASU) and what was a computer but a bunch of electronics, right? Opened up the box and discovered that the CPU fan had locked up due to buildup, cleaned said fan and computer would work again. When IT showed up and it was already fixed they were impressed and then created a position at my site and offered it to me. The rest is, as the cliché goes, history. I did end up dropping out of Engineering and switched to IT. The only bad thing is that a lot of my credits were not transferable, don't really need Chemistry and Physics in IT, ended up with Bachelors in IT and a Masters in InfoSec so it must have been fated.

Level 9

My interest in networking started when my brother-in-law was forced to find a new career path.  He went back to college and started taking networking classes.  At that time I had my own day care and was fresh out of high school.  I talked with him a lot about what he was studying and was intrigued.  I always loved computers and the Internet fascinated me.  I decided to stop my day care business, (and no I didn’t leave all those kids on the street, someone took it over for me). 

I enrolled in college for computer sciences.  About my 3rd year in, I was recruited right out of college.  I had an interview at my college and thought for sure, they were not going to hire me.  (I don’t do well with one on one least not then).  To my shocking surprise, I was hired about a month later in the support arena of the network department.  I remained in that arena for about 3 years and then was promoted to the Network Operations Center.  This is when my love of switching, routing, and everything network really came to light.  I was hooked.  After about 2 years in the NOC, I was promoted to Network Engineering and have been there ever since.  I love what I do!  I will always be grateful to the group of individuals that helped me along the way.  I could not have asked for a better team of colleagues to work with on a daily basis. 

Level 7

I was in the Air Force in Korea and saw how fuel was accounted for with a mixture of running punch cards on a main frame as well as a ton of paperwork.  This spark my interest in doing something different with my Air Force career. Once I started this job the world of personal computing engulfed the Air Force Fuels accounting and I was hooked. This went even further in to other devices on trucks the gas stations and storage tanks.  So with all the technology being thrown at me it all required programming which then spark me to learning enough about programming and thus gave me a more well rounded IT background.

Level 10

Our company started when an LLC bought a demographic location from ISP provider. Which made my team and I have to start everything from scratch from monitoring our systems to billing systems setting up a new phone system for call center, setting up Domain as well as policies, new firewall and security, email and chat tools, etc. I would say being at the startup of a New company gave me the knowledge to be the IT pro I am today.

Level 9

1979 - Got a job out of tech school programming on an NCR Century computer with 16KB of memory (Yes K not M or G).  As our organization grew, I moved into management.  After several years of figuring out that wasn't for me, I was given the opportunity to move back into a staff role as our first network engineer.  Been doing that ever since (20+ years now).  I did mostly OJT and made myself into what I thought the company needed in that role.  I am still here and have just a few years left before retirement.  I enjoy my work and have a sense of pride in what I've accomplished.  I have a couple of other guys that are now on the network team as we have about 75 sites.  We all do certain things well.  I've made a nice living for me and my family doing this.

Level 7

I started in IT, setting up my dad's first computer in his office. It was a Zenith PC with a green screen and large hard disks. That was in high school.

Graduated high school and went to college for business administration.  Remarkably, I passed my math classes and was allowed to graduate.  I followed a friend of mine into the workforce working for Computerland as a store sales rep.

Worked in sales for the next 10 years on commission eeking out a modest income.

Started learning about this new operating system called Netware from a company called Novell. Financed my own certification classes, so that I wouldn't become an indentured servant to the company I worked for. Became certified as a Novell CNE.

Built my first network at my dad's company and it is still in use today.

Went to work for a series of companies as a Network Engineer / Network Admin.

Started my own successful consulting firm for side work and ran that for 20 years.

Taught myself how to write documentation and created my own template for Network documentation.

A total of 40 years in IT and still love it. I enjoy the challenges of problem-solving and working with the new technology.

Level 10

Was building spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center. During a lull in the workflow, I got sent to another facility to pull cable for "some kind of network thing". Was a 10base2 and 10base5 network connecting terminal servers talking back to mainframes. After 2 weeks, I was asking some pretty good questions and they told me to go back and clean out my locker in payloads.

A couple hundred grand in vendor training later, Engineer. I never bothered getting an IT degree because I was already doing the job in the real world.

Level 8

Started my career off in automotive repair.  Purchased my first computer in 1995 and it was a piece of junk.  Friends and their family members will only help you repair your computer so many times before they just stop answering the phone.  After my very first solo Win 95 install and getting everything to work, i was hooked.  One of my customers was an IT Director at a local hospital.  Every 3 months/3,000 miles I would hit him up for advice.  From his guidance, I started taking IT classes at the local Technical College, earned a few certs and spent time every day studying.  My determination and the fact that I actually followed his advice helped me gain my first entry-level Tech role.  Fifteen years and six promotions later, I still wake up every day excited to go to work.  Anytime I have a bad day, i remember the long days of working in the shop and enduring the cold winters, excruciatingly hot summers and always being dirty.  Plus, life would be boring without getting to work in Solarwinds every day! 

Level 12

Apparently, I knew that I wanted to work with what I then called "computers" a long time ago.  I took summer school computer courses on an apple 2c.  I made an alien from the "Space Invaders" game march across the screen and down and when it hit the bottom it flashed a GAME OVER message on the screen.  I painted the Italian flag with my initials on the each of the sections.  I tried my hand at MIDI music by trying to work "Another Brick In the Wall (Part 2)) into MIDI format (that worked well in spots).

Then  In the 7th grade I had to do a report as to what I wanted to do when I grew up.  So I did a report based on working with computers (1981).  So I gathered up whatever literature I could get my hands on, interviewed someone who was working in the field back then (was a data analyst i believe). 

So in college I decide to major in Business and Organizational Communications (got my BA), and couldn't find a gig doing that, but minoring in programming and still having a fondness for all things science fiction and that little kid voice inside my head screaming "COMPUTERS!!!!"

Level 9

I was a closet geek and didn't know it. I loved putting games on graphing calculators in high school, and programming them, with different formula's, or even what now I know to be a virus, gasp!!! I even had written an IM program for a few. Then my family got a new PC and I totally bricked the thing, and spent a whole day fixing it. Later it took some mentors from a large software company to point out the inevitable.... I WAS A NERD!!! Since then I have been loving my life in IT!

"I don't like history, 'cause history is HISstory.  I like a mystery; 'cause a mystery is MYstory!"  - Miles Davis

I started in the computer world in 1977 at the tender age of ten.  My father, who worked for the government, spent about $50 (a fortune for the time) and got me a Radio Shack Digital Computer Kit for Christmas that year.  I spent hours hooking up the rudimentary circuits with spring-clips, wire and bulbs but I had so much fun with it!  He also got me the Crystal Radio Kit the next year.  (As a side note: I still have that Digital Computer's in rough shape but what a memory!)  The next year, 1978, the school system in Lakewood, CO invested in the shiny, new TRS-80 Model 1 computers.  They deployed them at my elementary school and I took to it almost immediately.  I learned programming in Z-BASIC, BASICA, etc. and even POKED a little at early machine language.  That's where I learned a lot of the batch scripting skills I still use today.  I remember the 8 inch floppies, which were a technological breakthrough of the time as opposed to tapes and punch cards.  They held, what, 8k of information or something silly like that?  Then the whole "single" versus "double" sided drives...OMG, I'm trippin' here! 😛

In the 80's, I hooked up with a buddy who had an IBM was an 8088 machine with no hard drive, dual 5.25 floppies and a small, B&W screen built-in.  That was the cat's pajamas, let me tell you and it really gave me the fever!  I then began going around to flea markets and garage sales, looking for old computers that people were getting rid of.  I would buy them, tear them apart, and piece together one machine that worked.  Then I went to college...Oh, boy, college!

My buddy with the luggable was in the same town, Greeley, CO, where I attended college and we hung out.  I got a taste of Macs fairly early, since I was a music major and Macs were all the rage for musicians.  It was the only machine that could do MIDI natively, without having to buy a bunch of extra hardware like you did with PCs.  So I cut my teeth on Pro Composer and other programs for Mac, really liking that you could get a 64-bit OS on a 360k floppy (too bad Microsoft never picked up on that!).

Fast forward to 1992 and I got a job at a local computer shop in the inside sales department.  It should be noted that my "resume" was printed on a dot matrix printer and the manager still hired me!  At the time, my sales skills were practically nil so I was moved into the tech support department and sent to Kodak here in Windsor to upgrade their computers to Windows NT 4.0.  That was fun AND it's where I met my wife of 20 years!  In 1997, the year we got married, I achieved my MCSE NT4 through a self-study course.  That was a blast!  Never mind that they changed the TCP/IP test on me mid way through and I had to take it twice.  I learned a lot that I still use.  Seven layer cake, anyone?  YUM!

Since then, I've been at Waterpik and now at DCP Midstream as a field support guy for the past seven years.  Networking has been my thing since Kodak and I enjoy hooking up stuff and making it talk.  I started that with SNA, did a little with AppleTalk back in the day, and now it's mainly IP and serial comms.  I like playing in the sandbox and do it every chance I get.

Long-winded, I know, but you all should expect nothing less from me by now.

Level 11

I joined the Air Force in 2001 with a job guaranteed as an Air Traffic Controller.  During basic training, I was informed that they had too many Air Traffic Controllers.  They said I either needed to choose a different job or I could  leave since my job wasn't available.  I was given a long list of jobs with cryptic names and poor descriptions of what they were.  After I picked what my preferences were, they eliminated all of my choices except Communications Computer System Operator. 

It turned out it was a good fit.  I went from small computer support to a network engineer in a little over a year.  In addition to my normal duties, I was in charge of our monitoring tools (at the time that meant HP OpenView, NetIQ AppManager, and CiscoWorks 2000).  Then I was sent to be an instructor for Server 2003, Exchange, Unix, NetIQ App Manager, and CiscoWorks.

After leaving the military, I went to work at a utility company handling their monitoring as well as being a network engineer.  I have since been working as the monitoring and event management engineer.  While not where I expected to be when I started this journey, I wouldn't change it.

Level 9

Working on dozens of account transfers for an IT services company. Sometimes we took over responsibility for the accounts, sometimes we took on the accounts, stabilized them and moved them to different departments, and sometimes we prepped them to be moved onto other vendors. I got a crash course I what subjects were important to what industries. How those companies with reporting requirements to the government functioned. And plenty of examples of how to do things right and how to do them wrong.

Level 14

During high school, I decided that I wanted to do "something" with technology, but I lacked direction.  Unfortunately that continued until graduation.  I decided to go to a technical school and get an associates and enter the workforce at the same time.  I decided to go for Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology instead of brilliant 18 year old reasoning at that time was that it could be somewhat automated in the future and make it difficult to find and retain a job (boy was I wrong).  It's quite ironic to find myself nearly 2 decades later striving to get deeper and deeper into networking.  I worked at a local IT (in healthcare) company during and after college.  The work was all hardware based and not challenging in the least.  For about the next 5 years I hopped around to various technical support/technician roles and I've been with my current company for 12 years.  I've moved from a more technical support role towards a more networking and monitoring role (I refer to myself as a sys admin wannabe) over the years...especially the more I've gotten involved with managing inventory in Orion. 

I can't say that I'm super happy about my past experiences and where it's landed me at this point in my life.  I have to apply the old saying "if I knew back then what I know now" to myself and express some regret that I didn't make different choices, but we can't change the past.  That's not to say I'm not grateful for where I am and where I am going.  And to that end, I'm also grateful for this site and the helpful members who post here.  This truly is a great community to be a part of.

Level 9

I was a Distributed Audio Sales man and the store I was working at shut down. There was an unemployment program that sent me to school for a year. With no experience I got my CCMP, got a job with the Navy which sponsored my clearance, have been in the network shop since them. A

co-worker of mine once said " You think our jobs are just to keep the network alive ..... But what if our network went down and some officer didn't get an email out fast enough, because of that some soldier overseas died because of he/she didn't get the message" Well ever since that little talk I'm "IN IT TO WIN IT" everyday. 

Level 7

I started in electronics but it was a dying field by the time I graduated. I luckily got laid off from my first electronics job out of school and ended up at a bank. They were just about to implement a unix based system in the branches and that's how was introduced to computers and networking. It progressed from there moving from computer support to networks. I even went back to school to get my AS degree in IT.

Level 16

I got into IT through the Telecommunications field. Initially installing and programming PBX telephone systems which eventually led to 3270 terminals, Mainframe Computers, then everything after that.

Got started installing Ethernet when it was thicknet and the cable was as big around as your thumb. I worked for a fortune 500 company back when they had only 5 PC's in the company and they were all stand alone.

Eventually this grew to 30,000+ Got into monitoring a few years ago because I could work on everything under the sun -vs- being stuck in a single technology area. Looking forward to retiring very shortly and then will live in a log cabin off grid and never look at a computer again haha

Level 8

I got into IT by installing PBX systems, building gaming machines and Working in the second largest Electronics manufacturer in the world.  It was hard to avoid the draw

Level 8

My IT story started with my father.  He worked with mainframes, and all I knew as a kid is that I never wanted to do what he did.  20 years later I was working in a computer room as temporary help over the holidays, and I was offered a job making more money than most of my friends would make in three years when they graduated college.  Done!  Since then I've tried a few different positions in various parts of the country, but I've always stayed within the IT field.  What made me into the  pro I am today?  Here's a brief list:

V.35 cables

T1 Multiplexing

Bus and Tag cabling



Modem banks

Channel extension over Frame Relay

Voice over Frame Relay

T1 loopback plugs

Lots of acrvonyms

Unconfig switch all---oh Wait! That's not the lab switch!!

Coming to the understanding that I Don't know everything

Lots of trial and error

Lots of managers

Level 9

Initially I got into the job because my dad started a new computer business and had gotten so busy that he couldn't keep up. My true passion was always to be a veterinarian, but vet school is very expensive so I did what several kids do and after I got my associate's degree in Science, I took a year off to save up some money. I started doing computer stuff more and did tons of network wiring, we opened a store, then we both were offered jobs at a hospital we had contracted with for years so after some extremely poor employee experiences (small town life, employees all think they should be paid 6 figures just for showing up and extra if you actually expect them to do any work) so we closed our store and took the jobs. So I've been in the field for a little oer 20 years now and am content. I never liked school anyway

Level 9

Started out building computers and playing around with Linux which got me into a PC repair shop.  At this PC show I started learning some networking basics using Juniper and Microtik routers. After deciding I hated charging people money for repairs i took a help desk job at an oil and gas company. Over the next decade i moved from helpdesk to servers to networks to where  I am now.

Level 7

I've always been interested in computers, and taught myself BASIC on a Tandy Pocket Computer II back in 1982.  As this had a whopping 1.8k available for programs steps, I also learned how to code lean.  Later on, I gained experience through fixing computers for friends and relatives but never could afford one myself until 1989.  And from that initial computer came a lot of experience in hardware and software.  At the time, there really didn't seem to be a career option in Information Technology -- instead, it seemed that IT was handled by someone in every organization with an interest in computers.  As such, I went on and became a teacher, teaching math, science and yes, computers.

This was where I really cut my teeth -- being in charge of a large school network with hundreds of teenagers trying to do whatever it takes to make life interesting.  This was also where my interest in Info Sec started to really flourish.  After years teaching, and obtaining various certs, I made the jump to IT professional full-time right in time for Y2K, and I have never looked back.

Level 12

You just brought back some memories!

One of my father's associates purched a PC-2 and eventually decided that he had no use for it. He offered it to my father, who brought it home for my brother and myself to use. There seemed to be no end to what we could do with tht little computer. Write programs that would let me cheat on math or chemistry tests, play games, and more. We would have to plug it in to a casette recorder to save or load programs.

Level 14

At grammar school in the 70's we had to chose our 'O' level subjects.  There was a new one called Computer Studies.  I was going to do the sciences anyway so thought it might be fun.  Day one of 4th year (1st year of 'O' level) the teacher introduced himself.  He had worked at NASA on the moon landings on the IT side of things.  He was brilliant and made the subject sooo interesting.  I found I was very good at it and changed my career choice from Industrial Chemistry to Computer Science.  'O' level, 'A' level and BSc with Honours later and I joined a global IT company.  I thought I was in 7th Heaven.  38 years on from that initial decision and I still really enjoy the technical side of things but it is increasingly harder to keep up with the new stuff.  I manage so I guess you can still 'teach an old dog new tricks'. 

Level 11

Coming out of a law enforcement career I developed a thorough investigative ability.  In law enforcement you want to solve the mystery of the crime (you don't want to give up).  Troubleshooting and investigating are very similar skills (you want to solve the problem).  Computers were a hobby for me since the late 80's, and I became a fan very quickly.  While many people I knew were using computers for gaming, I was learning how they worked and started troubleshooting and fixing problems for other people.  After 15 years in law enforcement I changed careers in the 90's to System Administration, after 10 years of Sysad work I moved into NetAd and I have never regretted that change.  When you find a career doing what you love it makes you want to go give your best, because it's not just a job.  If your not doing a job you love, I highly recommend you find one you love and do it.    

Level 7

Mine is much simpler. I was in high school, with no idea what to go to college for. The career assessment tests had developer at the tops of their lists, so i did that. But like many people, I started doing a small help desk in college, and fell into ad administrator job, and not development. I enjoyed it, and stuck with it since.

Level 8

I kind of got into it by mistake. After high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed to get away from working at the doughnut shop. I took a 1 year networking course, and never looked back. It's been nearly 25 years now, and my job keeps changing and evolving, and I have been learning constantly for the entire time.

Level 9

Was a happy and humble servant in the lawn-care business when i started dating this girl in 94 who was an office assistant. Low and behold, with the beginning of the internet boom looming close by, she was required to create and print flyers from home. I decided to get her a pc which at the time seemed like a pretty good idea. What she needed was a pc with win 95 and office 95. The thing was like $2,500 and had a 66 mhz proc in it, 10 mbit 3com - you know the deal, bleeding edge and would never ever need anything faster - lol. After installing some games, office and a bbs package that used trumpsoc to connect (excalibur bbs) I had just about maxed out my 400 mb hard drive and 4 mb ram. Enter the first upgrade....$600 later in parts and another $300 in labor got me to an 800 mb HD and 8 mb ram. Shortly after that I discovered Quake and then Duke Atomic which changed everything....i now needed a graphics card. The parts and labor were going to be almost $1000 and a new pc would be $1500. New pc it was and enough was enough, it was time to get in on this deal. So in 1998 I took the plunge. CompUSA was offering a joint course with a local college that included college credits as well as a+, network essentials, windows nt 4.0 beginner/basic/enterprise, windows nt tcip, windows 98, nt workstation, windows nt iis and exchange server 5.0 for $10,000. Was a 1 year commitment but it had to be worth it i thought. After talking about this to a few older family members that were in business they assured me it was the right thing to do as IS was really hot. They were right...8 months in i got a call from "Flashcom - the DSL Specialists" in Boston and they were looking for a systems admin. Took the job and the rest is history...

Level 8

Bugged parents for a computer and finally got one for Xmas '96.  Windows 95 FTW.  I would spend hours messing around and learning new things and taught myself HTML to build websites.  After that I moved to classes in high school and college and the rest is history.

Level 10

I worked at Prudential Insurance one of my first jobs out of college doing Customer Relations.  I had an interest in all of the systems that were being run at the organization and expressed this to my manager.  Next thing I knew, I was asked to be a part of the Y2K project.  While of course it didn't end up being the big fiasco it was going to be, it did get my feet wet.  Next I took a position as a Help Desk Analyst and learned my niche was in Cybersecurity.  So I relocated to take a position as a Security Analyst and have since worked my way to becoming an engineer from training ans experience over the years. 

Level 8

I didn't choose the IT life... the IT life chose me.

Level 9

We got out first "family" computer when I was 10 and shortly thereafter was able to install Doom on it.  Next , I wanted to play the game versus some one else via dialup and after several weeks and many attempts later concluded the version mismatch was causing the failure.  Fast forward a few years and BBS's were what I was into. I had purchased a second hand version of WildCat! BBS 4.10  and ran that BBS as well as a member of several local BBS's for a few years until the internet exploded.  Been trying to keep up with the technology jumps ever since.

Level 9

First exposure was when I was in 8th grade (1973) - learning BASIC programming and playing text-based games on a timeshare CDC mainframe using a teletype terminal & 110 baud modem.  We only had use of it for a couple of months......after that, took advantage of every opportunity I had to increase skills & knowledge.  I've been at my current employer for 32 years.  When I started, we had 1 IBM PC and a couple of early HP pc's.  Although not an IT employee, I had more exposure than most, and was unofficially supporting for 10 years.  For the last 22 years, I've been an "official" IT staffer.....

Level 12

Back in the mid-70's in high school, our Math department introduced a very basic programming course, known as Miniwaft. It was run by the Education Department and was done via punch cards that we punched out using a paper clip, batched up and sent off to to computing centre, and then a week later you got your output. Heaven help you if you made a typo, as you had to fix it and wait another week!

During that same year, the math department got a loan of a Wang 2200B computer, complete with 4K of RAM and a cassette tape drive built in.  Some students were allowed to use it, and I learned a very rudimentary BASIC and tried to make my own enhanced version of the provided 'Eliza'.  It was working well, until I ran out of memory!

Fast-forward to University, and they introduced a Computer Science unit when I was in second year, and here we are today

Level 14

My first PC (to date this slightly it was a 25MHz CPU with 16MB of RAM) and I was having some hard drive issues.

And at the time, I was at the time working as a bar steward (I love that job title) at an airclub.

My father had guided me into computers with a BBC Micro or two, before PCs took off. I went first to him for help, however he was unable to help me, but said that there was a computer company, down the corridor from his offices.

So I spoke to them and off I went, PC in hand, to meet with the boss of said company.

Two hours later, we were no closer to fixing my hard drive, but he invited me to start on the following Monday.

With a few months it was all X25, TCP/IP over Frame Relay, HP-UX servers and a SNMP network management tool.

Happy days...

Level 9

I always liked processes and procedures.  I was working for a larger call center based travel agency as an agent in the 90's and was picked to help the 'IT Team' swap out the terminal based systems that connected to a mainframe with IBM PC's running Windows 3.1.  I was hooked as they say from that point on.  Within a year I started as a PC Support tech and within 3 years I was a systems admin.  18 years later, I still love what I do, but it's become more and more challenging to keep the current things running while adjusting and learning the new technologies.  I imagine what we're experiencing now is similar to what those previous to me who worked with mainframes went through during the conversion to client based servers.

Level 9

I got into IT during my time in the US Navy. I worked on a mainframe system processing radar and navigational data, having to maintain a system and work with the system operators shaped my customer service skills. Some of the guys in my shop liked to game in their off time and I got sucked into that turning me on to home computing and the rest spiraled from there.

Level 8

First computer class was in junior high and it got me hooked. Always wanted to know how it worked and what made it "tick". Factored in the computer side of things into my love of live audio. Almost 18 years later and My IT career has progressed slowly but surely and trying to learn new things and stay as updated as possible. I have and always will love technology even those sometimes it can be a pain.

Level 8

Leaving the US Army, coming from a combat arms role, I had to figure out a new career path. Not much of a need for civilian tank drivers in our workforce, so I found some trusted friends who I knew were finding success in their careers and asked for a road map to accomplish that same level of success. A friend at the time was starting down the Cisco cert path, and so I jumped into study sessions with him and started building out complex virtualized networks. Less than a year out of the service, I landed a spot within Cisco which solidified the path I was on. The above is how I started down the path, but the question asks "what shaped you..." The answer to that is my ability to motivate myself. I shaped myself through long hours of labs and studying and an almost unhealthy competitive drive to learn more and work harder than those around me. A willingness to put in the time and effort is what shaped me into the professional I am now.

Level 12

I started out as a kid simply wanting to play games on my computer. It seemed like every other week a newer, fast video card, dial-up modem, or other peripheral came out and I had to have it. Initially, when I would need to upgrade something, I would have to break down my entire rig, drive it to a shop where I knew a guy that could upgrade it for me. This would usually entail me having to leave it with him, causing me to be without my PC for several days. UGH!

Finally I had enough. I was hell bent on learning how to do this stuff myself. The next time I had an upgrade of some sort, I sat down and read the F*n manual. It took me forever to figure out what I was doing, and Google didn't even exist yet. I did, however, discover the news groups. Ahh... news groups. Back in the day, that's where you could find info on just about anything. I quickly learned to parse the news groups and how to lurk in the groups I had to be careful in. (anyone remember the 'alt.2600' news group and all the variations?)

SO then it was a matter of reading, reading, reading, an the occasional post to ask a question. Those were the days.

I remember distinctly when DejaNews was bought by this little known startup called Google. We all though, "Oh, no! They are going to ruin everything!" Well, maybe they did, maybe they didn't.


My first IT related job was working at Radio Shack in Springfield Missouri. They had just introduced the Model I computer and I learned how to use it so that I could better talk with customers. When I got married to my first wife we moved back to Cincinnati where I managed a store for a few years. My pastor wanted to automate some of their processes and began looking at the computers. I moved to Florida for a couple of years and later received a call from my Cincinnati pastor. He had purchased a computer system and asked if I would move back up and run it for them. I did and designed for them an early ChMS that served them well for several years. I took that design back to Florida with me and worked for a church there. After setting up that church in Melbourne I had opportunity to move to Tallahassee and again implement ChMS for a church up there.

Leaving out a lot of detail I later had opportunity to move to Oklahoma City and work with EDS (at that time the 3rd largest IT company in the US). I had little network or server experience but the site was brand new and had only a hub (yes, a 48 port hub, not a switch) and 2 servers. Over the next 12 years that site grew to include 400 servers, 600 users, a full network to support that as well as a fully redundant internet connection providing incoming Medicaid transactions and several websites. I supported several customers and 3 states. I learned a lot.

Today I work for a company that provides IT services to hospitals and support a smaller rural hospital in the middle of Vermont.

Level 10

I came out of the Navy where I worked on Nuclear Reactors into a job working on robots at a Sony factory.  The boss there knew the Navy Nuke program taught good troubleshooting skills.  I worked that job for a while and was tapped to help improve equipment from the Mechanic's PoV.  This meant drafting part diagrams for the machine shop but of course I couldn't draft. So I fast-talked my boss in to getting a copy of AutoCAD 10. This meant fixing the departmental PC by adding memory and a math co-processor.  I got good at the drafting and went to work in the drafting department.  Because I "knew how" I was tasked with fixing up all the Engineering department PC's as they went from AutoCAD 9 to 10.  Of course back-in-the-day that meant Extended Memory and LOADHIGH and all manner of crud to get AutoCAD to run on a networked PC - Good ol' Novell.  I got good at the PC stuff and the IT department asked me for some help then hired me away from the Engineering department.  My first real IT job was setting up ZipSNA to get the PC's to talk to the Main Frame.  Good sh... er... stuff!

Level 9

I started with a TRS-80 computer when I was a kid. But rather than learn to to program it, I wanted to see how it worked. So like many other electronic devices in my house, I took it apart.  From there on I continued enjoying the hardware side. I received a 2-year degree in Computer/Electronics repair. I started as a CAT 5 cabler out of school, learning the bottom of the OSI model. From there I moved into the telecom side of things, installing and maintaining NEC 2400 and 2000 PBXs. Then I moved over to the network side, installing and maintaining Cisco switches and routers. As I grew older, I moved to the management side of IT, which is where i still reside today, managing a level 3 helpdesk and letting Solar Winds show me the ins and outs of every day IT goings on at my company.

Level 8

I got my start because my friend was into online gaming. We use to go to his place and play hours of duke nukem. i was hooked after that. I was fired from my job and needed a new one. So I decided to go back to school and take CPU courses. 18 yrs later here I am.

Level 13

Have already said how I got started but I also remember taking my young cousin into work with me one day when I was doing some out of hours work. got permission from the ops to take him into the machine room and show him the equipment - Mainframes etc. I'm told by my Aunt that he wouldn't shut up about it for days afterwards and he became a programmer after he left school.

I started out as an Engineering Student in college, after making the choice between that and a Chef as a career. I had done some computer programming in High School for Algebra II, Trigonometry, and Calculus all in BASIC. In college I learned Fortran, 8086 Assembly, VHDL, and other simulation languages all as tools serving engineering. As a summer intern job for a defense contractor I got to author I tutorial on ANSYS after having spent most of my time learning how to code finite element analysis boundary conditions to model magnetic fields in mechanical gyroscopes. The department manager I worked for thought it would be fun and found it interesting. What was really exciting was that because I got to play on the IBM mainframe the real engineers would share their knowledge with me and I soaked it up. When I left we made over fifty copies of my tutorial to hand out to the engineering group. It was really gratifying and was my first lesson in sharing everything you know about something and getting so much more in return.

After graduation I went into the USAF and served in ASD/ENSZ [Aeronautical Systems Division/Directorate of Engineering/Computer Systems]. I was doing PC support on Zenith 100s and then Zenith 248s for hundreds of users. Again by a total twist of fate my boss had just finished up work on a huge contract with Digital Equipment Corporation [DEC] for Scientific and Engineering Work Stations. I got a folder full of training certificates in DEC's Unix environment. Also took courses in computer forensics and investigations. We got a bid for installing the Directorates first Ethernet network and there was no budget for it. I looked at the intern working with me and the retired Sergeant and said I got a B.E. in E.E. we can do this ourselves. With support from the civilian director and my Captain we set about wiring all the buildings with thick coax, screwing in vampire taps, running thin coax out to repeaters and hubs, then out to terminals and work stations. When we hooked up the main building to our VAX 8650 the engineers were ecstatic [Well as ecstatic as they can be.] Prior to this they had nothing but green or amber terminals or Zenith 100 PCs. Now they had large color screens and could do visualizations of their work right in their offices. Then we had to install networks in the other builds and created a Wide Area Network using BGP with some Cisco AGS gear. You know the beige metal boxes with cards the size of 8.5" x 11" sheets of paper? Now I had the two data centers connected, was managing the team of operators, and overseeing the network operations. That also meant we had to tear out miles of shield twisted pair DB-25 cable that had been run thru out the builds and decommission the serial multiplexers. The one data center had two separate rooms, one where unclassified data was transferred to and from and the other were the classified analysis was done. It was what today we call an Air Gap network, back then it was sneaker net. You hand carried what you need into the vault. During this time I also worked with two other officers to create an automated workflow for a major contracting division, coding many of the macros to tremendously reduce processing time and help standardize the output documents. The three of us were awarded an Air Force Achievement Medal for the work done.

I then went on to graduate school at AFIT for more electrical engineering work. Again I learned more languages ADA and several simulation tools. I also took classes in computer communications and networking. Although I was disappointed in what I learned at AFIT at the time, as I had already done more than the course covered. I did take another course offered at the University of Dayton and remember during a break helping other students understand BGP better. After graduation I went into a classified program where I was slated to help set up a national network. Unfortunately, as does happen with the military, Congress unfunded the program it was supposed to support right as I was arriving on station. After two years there and learning a lot about operations in a highly classified environment. Then I went on to being an Intelligence Officer and learning about Information Warefare reading books and attending conferences. Studying foreign computer networks and infrastructure. I learned Sun Solaris,PERL and TCL/TK while helping to develop and maintain a program we called Info-Dominator. It had all kinds of things that today are rather common. But back then we still had to download and compile our web browsers and the guys who started Yahoo we still at college.

Leaving the USAF I worked for a contractor and created a classified network to house a library for a Joint Service program. More PERL and new to Windows NT 3.51, SQL, and PC DOCS - a document management system. It was my first exposure to the concept of meta-data. Travelling across the country doing installations and training on the systems use. I had to work with the local DISA authorities to certify the system and the sites in order for them to store classified material. I took all the training classes to get a MSCE. Fun times indeed.Threw friends I had made at this contractor. I got offered a job to manage a department of IT professionals for Dayton Public Schools. This cemented me into the of world of IT. Prior to this I kept going towards Electrical Engineering work with computers as the tool - at least I thought. Yet, this new adventure took me very far away from that providing services to the entire school district. I managed three managers/team leads. The Help Desk, the Network Team, and the Server and PC team. This was a complete Novell environment, Cisco gear, an AS400, my first venture in web content filtering, and Checkpoint firewalls. I took all the Novell classes to get that certification. I managed the network after the network person self-eliminated. I got to put my computer forensics training and classified experience to the test. The FBI agent involved in the case said it was great to work with someone who understood things like chain of custody, always having a witness when dealing with the systems in question, making copies of the original storage for further forensics. It was very upsetting to have to go thru it, but I was proud I knew what to do and could assist.

Just as that contracting was ending friends I had made working at the school district help me land a job at Reynolds and Reynolds. Here I was a Senior Technical Manager for Network Operations Team. This was fantastic job. I had network engineers, systems administrators, and project managers working for me. I took so many management classes and too all the classes necessary to get a PMP Masters certificate. I learned about more flavors of UNIX/LINUX, more Cisco, more Checkpoint, and what it meant to provide carrier class service. We helped deliver and provide level 3 support for Internet as a service for hundreds of car dealerships across the US. We had cages at MAE-EAST in Herdon, Va. to provide Tier-1 internet access. We did DNS, EMAIL, Web Content Filtering, HP Open View, and Firewalls. We also provided WAN Managed Services for dealerships. Reselling what would today be called Verizon MPLS services. At its peak we were the second largest MPLS network Verizon had. We had a bunch of tours and their facilities and dedicated support teams. We purchased and configured Cisco routers and then leased them to the dealers as part of the managed services. My staff worked at the warehouse doing all the configurations and preparing for shipping. Then we got into the SaaS business taking our dealer management system to the cloud. I got to manage IBM blade deployments, storage arrays, and dipped our toes into virtual servers. This is where I first purchased SolarWinds software, the engineering tool set. I think we bought like 50 copies I just remember all the CD cases. For a brief period my team and the Network Architecute Team had responsibility for the internal corporate networks. Which also meant we had oversight of the NOC. One that looked like what you see when at NORAD. Everything was dedicated to monitoring all the systems across the country. Each business unit had level 3 support staff assigned to work a week in the NOC and had a designated spot in the room. There were two guys [not enough] who were dedicated to managing all the monitoring systems. Then my peer and I got to outsource all that internal support to CSC. As all great things come to an end so did this. The company was purchased and management changed. They transformed the culture of the company.

Went in search of another job and learned some hard lessons at that one. I did get exposure to ShoreTel VoIP gear and Wireless WAN technology, but it was too short lived to learn anything technical

The job I am at now I have lots of exposure to SolarWinds products. I have learned a lot about VMWare, Blue Coat, Proofpoint, Left Hand Storage, EMC Storage [Celerra and VNXe], more Microsoft Enterprise Solutions - sometime more than I care too, Palo Alto Networks, Aruba Wireless, PowerShell, and of course more Cisco.

While I have never gone thru a complete certification process because of job changes, my career has let me lead a very good life. I am lucky to have been given by nature and nurture a ceaseless curiosity. Allowing me to adapt to the needs of the moment. The rate of change in Information Technology the drive to prepare yourself for the new adventure make it seem like i am constantly shaping myself for the IT PRO I will become.