Three tips on professionalism and the IT administrator.

Now if you are new to the job of a system administrator, be warned: the road ahead is pretty rough.

Administrators are supposed to be independent fellows who can hold their own end of the fort, so if you prefer a cushy job with a narrow job scope and training provided, it would be best if you started looking elsewhere right now. Should you choose to trudge on however, I have a few tips here for you.

#1 Piracy is a no.
This should have been obvious, but I will just talk about it nonetheless. Software piracy is a crime, and whatever you do at home is another tale for another day. Doing it at work not only gets you in trouble, but gets your employer in deep shit. Don’t expect someone to bail you out on this if you get caught and slapped with a heavy fine.

Don’t do it, even when asked to.

#2 Think about the consequences.
Whatever you do at work has major consequences that impact the entire office. Think, before you do anything. Giving that new registry cleaner seems like a good idea, but always test it on something else before using it on your production servers. To work on blind faith is to ask for shit to be tossed in your face.

Think, test and prepare before you roll any changes out. Prevention is always better than cure – in this case, preparation is better than firefighting an outage.

#3 Learning to know.
The most important quality for any administrator. No one can possibly know everything, but having the ability to pick things up on the fly helps a great deal. You should know everything, and anything that is under your charge. It’s always easy to play the blame game and say there was no handover, but that was already in the past. Now that this pile of gunk is yours, it’s up to you to keep things running.

One way or another, you have to pick up the skills and knowledge necessary to manage your assets. If that means you need to spend hours at night in self-study, so be it. But never let it be said that effort was not made on your side to learn.

I hope these points help you in the road ahead, and should you be unsure at any point of time, always stick to the one rule: Do the right thing, no shortcuts and stay responsible.

Good luck!

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