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The Life Expectancy of a "Legacy" IT Pro

Level 13

When focusing on traditional mode IT, what can a Legacy Pro expect?


This is a follow-up to the last posting I wrote that covered the quest for training, either from within or outside your organization. Today I'll discuss the other side of the coin because I have worked in spaces and with various individuals where training just wasn't important.

These individuals were excellent at the jobs they'd been hired to do, and they were highly satisfied with those jobs. They had no desire for more training or even advancement. I don't have an issue with that. Certainly, I’d rather interact with a fantastic storage admin or route/switch engineer with no desire for career mobility than the engineer who’d been in the role for two months and had their sights set on the next role already. I’d be likely to get solid advice and correct addressing of issues by the engineer who’d been doing that job for years.

But, and this is important, what would happen if the organization changed direction. The Route/Switch guy who knows Cisco inside and out may be left in the dust if he refused to learn Arista, (for example) when the infrastructure changes hands, and the organization changes platform. Some of these decisions are made with no regard to existing talent. Or, if as an enterprise, they moved from expansion to their on-premises VMware environment to a cloud-first mentality? Those who refuse to learn will be left by the wayside.

Just like a shark dying if it doesn't move forward, so will a legacy IT pro lose their status if they don’t move forward.

I’ve been in environments where people were siloed to the extent that they never needed to do anything outside their scope. Say, for example, a mainframe coder. And yet, for the life of the mainframe in that environment, they were going to stay valuable to the organization. These skills are not consistent with the growth in the industry. Who really is developing their mainframe skills today? But, that doesn’t mean that they intrinsically have no impetus to move forward. They actually do, and should. Because, while it’s hard to do away with a mainframe, it’s been known to happen.

Obviously, my advice is to grow your skills, by hook or by crook. To learn outside your standard scope is beneficial in all ways. Even if you don’t use the new tech that you’re learning, you may be able to benefit the older tech on which you currently work by leveraging some of your newly gained knowledge.

As usual, I’m an advocate for taking whatever training interests you. I’d go beyond that to say that there are many ways to leverage free training portals, and programs to benefit you and your organization beyond those that have been sanctioned specifically by the organization. Spread your wings, seek out ways to better yourself, and in this, as in life, I’d pass on the following advice: Always try to do something beneficial every day. At least one thing that will place you on the moving forward path, and not let you die like a shark rendered stationary.

Level 21

Organizations who do not provide training to critical employees are not taking care of their futures.  Some examples:

  • Imagine relying on a doctor who has had no training in the last five or ten years.  Without those Continuing Medical Educational credits, she or he will likely remain unaware of improved procedures that may impact your health.
  • Could you use an electrician who's had no training in the last five or ten years?  Well, you COULD, but would you be getting the latest installations that leverage new safety processes, that use new materials and equipment that ensures your family can sleep safely at night, without worry of potential electrical fires?  Will your electric bill be as low as possible if your installer is unaware of the latest improvements in their industry?
  • How would a business operate if their plumbing company's workers didn't understand recent changes in building code, if they couldn't take advantage of new materials that make your water safer to drink, if they didn't know about a new local/state/national ordinance or rule or law were enacted that affected sewer construction & deployment and its associated impact to your drinking water?

"Saving Money By Not Training Employees" is not a path to the future.  It's a path to failure.

Level 19

I just try to keep on working every day and get exposed to many different technologies... it seems to work pretty well.
Level 16

Very True, Wonderful article

Level 13

Thanks, Vinay. What a nice thing to say.

Level 14

Great article mbleib​  "Who really is developing their mainframe skills today?" so true!!

Every day offers me the chance to learn something new and I take advantage of it! I agree with ecklerwr1​, it seems to work well for me.

Years ago I worked for a manager who had an expression.... "Just because you've worked 30 years in the business doesn't mean you have 30 years experience. Most people have one day of experience and 30 years on the job!"

Level 13

just ask any cobalt programmer...

Level 16

COBOL? Cobalt is the color of the Fiestaware my wife and I collect. :-)

Level 16

As a manager I have it as part of my employees yearly development plans. I give them control of it. I just offer the incentive. I also offer them "days remote" where they can self-study or watch webinars (I grant myself at least 2 every year for Thwack Camp).

Level 13

Beware. Cobalt Fiestaware is not safe for the microwave, and can be unsafe to eat off off for a longer period of time. My first wife collected stoneware. I learned quite a bit at the time. She also had a vintage clothing store, where I learned about period clothing, theatre costuming, etc...
Level 16


Level 13

see, it's sooooo old, i don't even know how to spell it!

Level 17

Well said If I still relied on my CNE that I got back in 1993, I would've been unemployed for a long time!

Level 13

I got my first cert in 1989. It was a Netware CNE on v.2.11. Means a lot today, right?

Level 15

Legacy pros bring with them a ton of experience. The key is to leverage your experience and not stay in the past. Be willing to learn and do new things. Adapt.

Level 10

mbleib​ this is a well written information. you have communicated very well. Thank you.

About the Author
Hi, I'm Matt Leib. I'm an old dude, with years on the customer side, years on the vendor side, and now, years on the channel side. Exist as a Pre-Sales Solutions Architect in the channel space. I specialize in virtualization, orchestration, storage and cloud. On my personal blog, I talk about anything from baseball and music to most technical things I enjoy including personal and enterprise tech. For the last few years, I've been a Tech Field Day delegate, and a blogger on Thwack's Geek Speak as well as a personal blog site at . Always learning, growing (though sometimes, that's the waistline) and striving to be as good as I can. I also like to sing, play guitar, and am a rabid Cubs and Blackhawks fan. I live in Evanston, IL, a suburb of Chicago, also grew up here. I work for Connection Enterprise Solutions, in a strategic solutions role, speaking to C Level on Corporate IT Initiatives