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What Inspired You To Get Into The IT Field?

What Inspired You To Get Into The IT Field?

Do you remember what made you say "I want to work with computer systems for the rest of my life?" I'd like to hear the stories of your first years in IT, and how SolarWinds' products would have helped back then. What was your moment?


I was an accidental IT.   I graduated from the school of engineering many years ago in the mid 1990's.  I went to interview right out of school with a company that was a manufacture of Flour.   There I sat with my fresh engineering degree and they said you can operate word right? i replied yes, and you can use computers right?  and again i replied yes.  Having been specializing in Robotics and studying ergonomics I knew as much as i needed to get my grades, but i chose the math minor not the CS minor.  

they asked me to be their MIS administrator vs a process engineer.  Once I started I never wanted to do anything else.   It was a blast, and it was all an accident.

Level 7

I was first introduced to computers in the Army in the early 1980's. "Freddy FADAC" and "TACFIRE" were cumbersome and we used FM radio as a way to get the computers to talk to each other. Can you imagine the dial up modem noise continuously broadcast over FM radio with the speakers wide open? I didn't choose IT as a career until about 2008 though. I had my own construction company and was diagnosed with cancer. After the radiation treatment I lacked the energy to do what I did so I choose another, less physical career. I asked a friend what he thought I should go to college for, and said I would make a good geek. When I said that the technology changed so rapidly, and I wasn't sure what to major in, He said "Mike if you can keep the computers talking, you will always have a job." So I got a degree in Networking Systems administration by going to college for the first time at age 48. I use Solarwinds daily, and have gotten certified in Cisco and Data Center Infrastructure Management. Fate immersed me in IT and I have no complaints. the saying if you love your job, you'll never work a day in your life is true for me.

Level 14

I could say it started with my Mom as she worked at an insurance company in Boston and she worked on one of the original IBM machines in the early 50's...

But my own path started in college in the mid-70's when a course called "Computer Programming for Non-Math Majors" (Programming Language: Basic)  was offered. People who signed up for the course were Biology, Physics or Chemistry majors, I was the lonely Liberal Arts (English Literature) major. I had to fight to get approval from the English Department Chair, because "There is no way a computer will contribute to the study of English Literature". I fought and fought.. I won, but had to prove my point. I found a poem that had a word (not a, and the) repeated several times. I had to write a string search program and show how many time the word appeared along with some flowery words to explain the meaning in the printed output. I passed the course, but the department head was not amused....

Level 12

I always admired IT people and wished to be one of them!  I wished for it, took courses, worked free to gain some experiences, got a job in a small company, their production moved to "Austin, Texas" and I found a desktop support in a very large company as a "Contractor", worked day and night and got promoted to highest level as "Sr. Network Engineer"!

My story starts in 1982 when I joined the US Navy.  After Basic Training I went through a training pipeline to become an Electronics Technician.  One part of that pipeline included a Unisys mini mainframe.  It had a 1khz clock and 64k of magnetic core RAM.  We learned to write machine code  as part learning to troubleshoot the computer.  After school, I went to the fleet and really loved my job. I worked on computers, communications, RADAR, navigation, and cryptographic systems.  I read every book I could get my hands on about electronics. I wanted to be the best Electronics Technician I could be.  Thirteen years into my career, I had been on three ships and had one tour of instructor duty.  I had done every Navy electronics correspondence course available.  I had completed all of my core classes for an Electronics Engineering degree.  I was at the top of my game.  There was nothing new to learn.   I transferred off my third ship headed to my second tour of instructor duty.  When I got there, I was given the option to teach a completely new course.  It was a classified messaging system built around HP-UX servers, SCSI hard drives, thin net, and thick net.  Next thing you know, I teaching UNIX, TCP\IP, IP addressing, hubs, bridges, and routers. A whole new world of learning had been opened to me.  I started writing basic and C++.  I worked at a local computer store for free, just to learn about more about building PC’s. They gave me a paying gig after about two weeks.  I would read every IT related book I could get my hands on.  I would read 100 pages of material I already knew, just to find the one paragraph of new information.  I started teaching that new class in 1995.  Over twenty one years, I have gone from PC repair, to NT\2000 and Novell system administration to Cisco network administration to network cyber defense and lead network engineer.  The one thing that has held my interest over the years has been the never ending supply of new things to learn and understand.  I love the SolarWinds series of tools because they give me insight into my network and help me to understand what is really going on.  They help with the administration of my network which saves me time.  Time that can be used learning something new…and the story goes on.

Level 13

I had a former career, or so I thought as an Electronics Technician and was taking pre-requisite classes to upgrade to an Electrical Engineering degree.  I worked in an R&D department and loved it.  The company I was working for ended up having layoffs after I had been there about 5 years, about 11 years into the career.  I was still taking a Calculus class as a pre-req for Engineering.  But with our company layoff and others in the area, there were no jobs for an Electronics Technician.  Looking ahead, the Electrical Engineer jobs were scarce also.

Since all of my experience was actually in computer related electronics, I thought that some IT courses might broaden my knowledge and open up some possibilities.  It did in a big way.  As part of my IT training, I was able to do an internship with the community college I was taking Cisco classes at.  They hired me full time a year after the internship.  I worked my way up from front line help desk, to network administrator, bringing up NCM and NPM and eventually SAM as part of that role. Then I took on the colleges new Cisco VoIP system when they retired the old PBX in addition to the networking and monitoring.

Recently, I took an opportunity to move into a different agency in a full time Enterprise Monitoring team.  We are bringing up SolarWinds as the primary monitoring tool, retiring other tools.  I am currently trying to duplicate all the special alerting and views they had on other systems, and hopefully improving on some of them. We will also be adding more produces to fill in much more of the AppStack to get the full top to bottom view.  I will be busy here.

Level 7

Ok, put on your bell bottoms, platform shoes, and go get your hair "permed" for this story!  Back in 1978 I took a part-time job filing cancelled checks for a large transportation company.  Day in and day out I numerically filed cancelled checks and put them in banker boxes.  This had to be the most boring job in the entire world.  What it did though was allow me hours and hours to think about why I was doing this and wasn't there a much easier way?  This is when I began thinking about automation, scanning, listing things on a spreadsheet, and reconciling bank statements using a computer.  A year later I began using the MAI Basic Four mid-range computer.  As soon as my fingers touched that keyboard, and I saw those numbers and letters appear on the monitor, I was hooked.  I knew then that I would be working with computers for the rest of my life.  As far as the cancelled checks go, I began using "MultiPlan" on a Digital PC and created a program to automate the process for tracking those checks.  Today I use Quicken to reconcile my bank account.  I will always remember those years of manually filing those stupid cancelled checks!

Back in 1979 I was allowed to check out some games on a Basic 4 business computer.  I enjoyed working on the computer but I really did not see the point of playing games on it.

In 1983 we bought the first home computer was an Apple IIe with a Duo Disk drive.  I showed my father how to use VisiCalc IIe Extended and then Appleworks with the 1 MB HyperCard installed.  We kept the books on it for a few years.  This is about the time I started doing construction in South Texas.

In 1987 it was an IBM XT clone with MFM Controller that came with the $289 20 MB hard drive.....then a 286....386.....Pentinum.

Finally almost a decade of sweating in the South Texas Gulf coast heat, I changed careers and took a job in 1992 working with computers as a full time job.  Why did I wait so long!


Level 7

I had always had a love for technology and computers, but never thought of pursuing it as a career. I worked crap jobs and did sales or construction when one night at my friends parents house his father asked what i was going to do with my life.  He was a director that worked for a government contractor who specialized in IT contracts for the DOD. He told me if i would go to college and get an associates in computer science then when i graduated he would give me a job. I decided to take him up on that and enrolled at Texas State Technical College specializing in Windows Server and Cisco networking. My wife, then my girl friend, took the exact same degree plan and together we pushed ourselves to learn all we could and do our absolute best. We even had a baby our last semester to add to our family that already included two elementary aged girls.  I ended up graduating with a 3.95 GPA and in two years of courses i had made all A's except for one B in spite of working part time doing construction labor and sustaining a family. Shortly before graduation I talked with my friends father and true to his word he fast tracked me to an interview with the IT manager. I was given the position as an entry level systems administrator, not because of who i knew, but what i knew. I was now able to quit the dead end jobs i was doing but always appreciated having those jobs to help while we went through school. I started in November 2002 and worked part time until graduation in this new IT job and then moved to full time. The American dream had changed from a dream to reality. By  2004 i had worked my way up to a Sr. level position and in 2008 i became the top engineer in the department responsible for the entire network infrastructure for a major military command. Through out that time I stumbled on to Solarwinds products and saw how intuitive they were to use even back then.  I influenced decisions to purchase Kiwi Syslog, then NPM, then config manager, and net flow modules. When i left the organization in 2011 i had turned my associates degree into a Masters in Information Security Management through online schooling and over the next 5 years i went from promotion to promotion with different organizations. Each place i was hired on at i brought my love of Solarwinds products and implemented NPM with different modules. Every place i work at i can say i left it better than i found it. Even if my personal contributions where not counted, just introducing an organization to Solarwinds products would have been enough to make significant and lasting changes. Today I am a technical team lead for a major health care provider and rely on Solarwinds more than ever to give me up to the minute health assessment of our systems. We could purchase any software out there to monitor our systems but why when we already have the best thing going.  For the last 15 years i have not regretted using the Solarwinds product and when ever any software is being discussed for purchasing I make sure to see if Solarwinds has an offering in that area. 

Level 12

I came into the field accidentally. When I was a kid and people could still throw away computers and monitors I was constantly annoying my parents by making them stop their cars to pick up literally anything I found on the side of the road. I'd bring things home, gut them, tinker with them, and make them work again.

I was the only kid on the block with a pile of equipment like that, I started running my own web server for friends, did side jobs for folks to make some money, and with a friend's father who worked at ATI at the time was able to grab the latest and greatest cards for "testing" and built the most dope gaming rigs.

When it finally came time to get a job I made pizzas, sold shoes, worked in a garage... Eventually I landed a gig as a contractor and bounced around from job to job before working at small business locally providing managed services to businesses. From there I clawed my way up the ladder and now am looking at taking over SolarWinds for all three locations in our organization.