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My sysadmin career story

Sysadmin careers often begin with simple curiosity but meander their way through the years and various positions along the way. Here is one such sysadmin's tale.
My sysadmin career story

Some of you might be curious about how sysadmins start their careers. Well, I cannot speak for all of us but at least I can share my career story with you.

Born in the late 1980s, long before I started my career, I've had a serious interest in technology and personal computers. My first personal computer was the famous Commodore C64 and I got it at the age of eight. I loved playing games on it, loaded from Datasette. And as the years passed, I collected a lot of other peripheral devices like the floppy 1541 disk drive, two of the advanced model 1541-II, and a bubble inkjet printer. And, I started to learn my first programming language, BASIC, to write calendar applications and an inventory for my VHS collection. But, enough about the good old days.

My professional career started not so long ago, in 2003. It was an in-firm training in a small system house that lasted three years. In this time, I learned all the things needed to become a "Fachinformatiker Systemintegration," which is kind of a qualified IT specialist. I learned how to choose the right hardware parts to build a desktop or server system, to install operating systems, and to configure the hardware and software accordingly. Also, I learned how to manage my first small projects for our customers.

During the in-firm training in Germany, you are guided and trained by more experienced colleagues from your company and you go to a vocational school for some days per week where you learn the theory about your future job. After three years of training, you become a qualified IT specialist and are ready to work on your own with your customers.

After my in-firm training, I continued working for my employer as a consultant for several customers in different business sectors. It was a great period and I gained a lot of experience at this time. A couple of years later there was a change in our business. As a system administrator in a small company, it was not enough to configure, sell, and install hardware for your customers. These bits were taken over by the large vendors who produce and ship preconfigured standard hardware. So I adapted by starting my studies in computer sciences after regular work hours. The period when I worked a full-time job and pursued my studies at the university for applied sciences was hard and exhausting but it definitely paid off. I grew in experience and found a new job.

In my new job, I worked less with desktops and more with server systems in the company's data center. My sysadmin tasks those days were: Take care of our servers, the network, backup, maintenance contracts, and the development of our infrastructure. And I supervised some IT projects and became a project manager for my company and took a lead for our small sysadmin/DevOps team.

When you ask me: "What the heck is a DevOp?" I would like to explain it as follows: "A DevOp is a sysadmin who learned to use the tools and methods of a developer to operate and develop the IT infrastructure. And at the same time, it is a concept where sysadmins and developers work together to deliver better services."

Sometime later after I graduated from university I changed jobs again. My current job is working for the computing center of Bielefeld University. These days I take care of our virtualization platform, data center firewalls, load balancers and I run a bunch of services on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

During my sysadmin career, my job and its tasks have changed several times. From building desktop computers to building server systems, from Windows to Linux to Windows AND Linux; learning new technologies and concepts such as cloud computing and microservices. This way it won't get boring and I like waking up in the morning to learn something new. Sounds good to you? Well, then this is the perfect time for you to start your sysadmin career. Enroll now!

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Topics:   Career  
Author’s photo

Jörg Kastning

Jörg has been a Sysadmin for over ten years now. His fields of operation include Virtualization (VMware), Linux System Administration and Automation (RHEL), Firewalling (Forcepoint), and Loadbalancing (F5). More about me

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