How did you get into IT?

06Feb08

That is the question of the week around here. We are currently trying to fill a desktop support position and this is one of the first questions we ask the candidates. It is interesting to hear the stories, and I think it tells a lot about the individual. After hearing a few people answer this question I figured I would take a look back at how I got into IT because I’m not sure I have ever been asked the question.

I remember back to when I was about 10 or 11 and my uncle bought an Amiga 500. That was the first time I got to really use a computer and see some of the cool things computers could do. I was just fascinated from the beginning. Shortly thereafter my parents somehow came up with the money to buy one too. I spent so much time on that machine, a lot of which was playing games because the graphics were just amazing, but regardless it got me hooked on computers. I found that I could make the computer do things by programming it, I think it was either AmigaBasic or QBasic, and I did what amounted to simple things but at the time thought was cutting edge.

I then got my first PC, in 1992 I think, and it was full steam ahead. It was at this time I told my parents that I wanted to work with computers when I get older. I took classes in school and learned BASIC and Pascal which was fun being able to teach the teachers. Connected up a super fast 14.4kbps modem with a shell account and learned Unix so I could get into trouble on the net, many late nights followed. The WWW came along and I jumped all over HTML, reading books and creating sites for no other reason than because I could. I liked to learn and I liked to hack, but that is a story for another day.

Went to college and had access to computer labs and fast internet access…a dangerous combination. One day I tried to log into my computer science account to work on a project and a little message came up telling me I needed to see the systems administrator. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and walked down to his office. His assistant knew who I was as soon as I came in the door, that couldn’t be good. Well the sys admin came in and flipped out on me, think Full Metal Jacket (WARNING: link is not work or child friendly), because he found out that I was “borrowing” software using the schools servers. He went on about how stupid I was, how he should get me expelled from the university along with other threatening things. I was shocked to say the least but not for the reason you would think. I wasn’t shocked that I was in trouble, because I knew if I was caught I would get into trouble, I just never thought I would get caught. So after he finished yelling at me and telling me how I was going to fail in school and life if I didn’t smarten up he asked what I had to say for myself. I smirked (like Private Pyle I just can’t help it) and asked how he caught me. He was a little taken back and blew off the question, but I persisted because I was really curious about the technology available to monitor my activity and figure out what I was doing. Turns out I was just dumb and downloaded too much software causing a server to run out of disk space (yeah….it was a lot of software) which caused other issues. Why do I tell you all of this, because this was the event that caused me to change my focus from coding to networking. I wanted to be in control of the systems and the network. Needless to say I did not get expelled, and the sys admin actually recommended some good books to me on networking which made for some good summer reading. From then I just kept chugging ahead to where I am today.

So how did you get into IT?

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2 Responses to “How did you get into IT?”

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Robert Michel

  2. 2 SeanB59

    I am also in the IT industry and while I wouldn’t call this a second career, I did have a ‘previous life’. My first computer was a Tandy TRS-80, AKA Trash-80 (actually, at one point, we had 4 in the house) when I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was fun to play the games and do some programming, but the biggest novelty was the cassette drive which I stored my games on.
    I took the obligatory computer classes at Bentley College even though I was an Accounting major while I mastered Risk on my Mac Classic. Again, it was fun and interesting, but I had other career plans set before me.
    After a few years out of school, I then realized I did not want to do accounting as a profession and went back to a Tech school (yes, think ITT Tech). It was the best year of my life and a real inspiration.
    I’ve since worked up through the ranks from call center work, to help desk, to consulting, to now running my own team of misfits.
    While some days it’s a pain in the a$$ and realize I am working when the rest of the world is sleeping, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.


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