As the site URL implies, my name is Gerry Williams and I currently work as a Senior Systems Administrator at an enterprise company in the DFW Area. My current focus is on automation using enterprise software applications and workflows. In my free time I like to research/implement current technologies I read about on SysAdmin or Self-Hosted. If you found anything helpful and would like to buy me a coffee, you can donate here. Many readers like to send me emails, that works too! Thanks for stopping by!
This used to be its own page on my old site but I’m placing here for brevity
The way I learned IT was the same as learning any other subject, you start with broad categories and narrow your way down as your career progresses. In general, the majority of IT can fit into a combination of 3 categories:
Hardware - The physical devices themselves. This is routers, switches, servers, workstations, ect.
Software - This is the code that runs on the hardware. By far the broadest category.
Networking - How these devices “talk” to one another. Mainly learning protocols and addressing schemas.
Early in your career it is best to learn how to troubleshoot properly. This may seem like an easy skill to acquire, but it usually takes people over two years of solid experience to get this down correctly, and some go their whole careers not learning. Troubleshooting falls into a category of “break/fix” where you have an issue at hand and you fix it, nothing really beyond that (such as preventing the issue from happening again or implementing a solution that would negate the issue altogether).
Next is administration. This is a “background” side of IT where you are more of a decision maker than a break/fix type of person. Here, IT professionals layout policies for the network, what software is to be installed on what machine, which ports are to be open on which servers/switches/routers, ect. This is point where you control the network on the highest level.
Feel free to browse whichever posts interest you, but I would suggest starting with:
Added recently because over the years I have met a couple professionals that work in IT because “it’s just means to an end” or “to collect a paycheck”. The problem with individuals like this is they need to have passion or they will get left behind. “So what do you mean by passion?” you may ask. Well, there’s a difference between going to school and getting and IT degree and just “going through the motions” compared to those who want to find out “how does this work underneath?”. For example, if you look at my tweaks tag and setup category on this site, you will see that what I’m usually doing is:
- Installing something as it is intended to be installed.
- Finding out how I would create the program if I were to be the distributor or creator by looking at how it works underneath.
- Tweaking it for PERSONAL learning and then deleting my final product.
I capitalize PERSONAL because it is almost certainly against TOS (Terms of Service) to alter and distribute a program. So what I do is alter and not distribute programs that I tweak. Instead, I just tweak them to learn them. In other words, when I see something, one of the first things I ask is “how did they create this? Visual Studio? INI files? Powershell script?” and then proceed to try. Many times I give up and abandon a project, but other times I set them up and keep them. I highly advise in order to really get into how stuff works that you will:
- Install Virtual Machines using Linux distros / Windows
- Pick and choose many of the options off this list and go by and start self hosting!
- As you install something, jot down the steps you took as you do it.
- After the server is stood up and the application is running, organize your documentation and make a blog post on it. I highly recommend using Jekyll with Github pages as it’s completely free hosting!
- Combine the tweaking software from above, with documenting software installs from above, with some kind of scripting language and you should have plenty to talk about in your next SysAdmin interview!