Aug 08, 2011

Do you have an IT mentor?

In my career, I've learned a lot from a couple of guys who showed me the ropes, and taught me important skills like being extra-patient with angry business customers and the importance of saving and printing out my Cisco config files to use as a backup. Do you have a mentor? Have you considered mentoring a younger coworker? What lessons were you taught that you think are most important?


Midway through my career, I had a boss who stressed the importance of building a testing network, DMZ'd from the regular corporate network. This is much easier to do now in the age of virtual computing. But testing global policy changes for a domain can be tricky stuff, and testing changes thoroughly has likely saved me from making 2 or 3 CLM's (career-limiting moves).


In college, my favorite professor was an adjunct faculty member who had been running a data center for 25 years. He taught me the importance of getting grassroots support for company-wide changes, divided by the various affected groups, as well as how one should never rely on a vendor's promises -- you should always  test systems side by side before pulling the plug on the previous system. Those lessons have served me well, and I call him on occasion to inform him of my successes.

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