10 Things I Would Tell My Younger IT Self
So this post is a little different from my other posts. As I am approaching the 20 year mark in my professional IT career (I started in ’93 building and customizing Wildcat and Renegade BBSs), I have done some reflecting. I have identified some things that I could have done better, and some things that I did pretty well. I’ve used that to come up with 10 things that I would tell my younger self if I had the opportunity.
I’ve heard it said that advice is simply a form of nostalgia (and that is likely the case here), but with any luck perhaps this will be of some benefit to someone.
1) End-user errors will be your fault.
Get used to it. It comes with the territory. When the accounting staff nukes that monthly finance report for the 28th time, It’s on you. Don’t take offense. Just find a way to fix it. You can be either the goat or the hero. It all depends on how well you plan for contingencies. Never forget that.
2) Get to the gym.
Seriously. In this career, you are going to be sitting behind a desk consuming junk food and energy drinks for the next 30+ years. Invest in your health, and do it early. Your 40 year-old self will thank you. (You will meet him far sooner than you ever imagined).
3) Avoid the Jager bombs during the annual company party in 2002.
4) Certifications will get you a better job and/or better pay, but they wont make you a better IT professional.
You need to keep learning. Stay hungry. Technology is always changing. The fundamentals you master in 1995 will not be so fundamental in 2013.
5) She doesn’t really like nerdy guys.
When she says she likes nerds, she’s thinking Channing Tatum in glasses, not pimple-faced gamer kid who never misses a Comic-Con.
6) On that note, stay away from MMORPGs.
Those things will drain all of your free time. They are evil. You need a social life. Don’t blow your 20’s in front of a computer.
7) You will be the one-stop shop for all of your friends and family’s computer problems.
Again, this just comes with the territory. Accept it. Consider it a compliment. Even when your mom decides she wants to learn Linux and wipes her home computer. Remember #1.
8) Accept that you will spend most of your time supporting legacy technology. Resist the urge to rip-and-replace it.
This one is going to be difficult for you. But you will spend far more time supporting legacy technologies than implementing new ones. Resist the urge to just replace it. Your bosses will not be singing your praises when they come in and see a new user interface and new functionality when you spring it on them out of the blue. Really, no matter how much you KNOW that the new software is superior, it’s a bad idea. Always.
9) Vendors are friendly but not necessarily your friends.
They will take the credit when things work great, but guess whose fault it is when they don’t? Do not be fooled by that pair of box seat tickets to the Fiesta Bowl they scored for you.
10) Remain humble.
You don’t know everything. You never will. Even if it is something you have worked with for years. Keep an open mind. Remember that IT “veterans” are usually the biggest obstacle for implementing new technologies and new ideas. Don’t be that guy. Even though that new dude was born the year you graduated high school, loves “Dubstep,” and has never seen a telephone with a wire, don’t undervalue his opinion. He will surprise you.
11) Oh, one last one.
Don’t spend that $350 on the HD-DVD player in 2006. It’s not the “deal” that the dudes on that one AV forum said it would be.