I guess I should give you some background on myself…
I came into information technology by way of the clerical world. Starting out at 20 years old in my first role of Administrative Assistant, I worked my way up the proverbial ladder in the clerical realm until I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up. I found a fascinating interest for computers and then learned the kind of money people who worked on computers made. It was a no-brainer for me from there!
I didn’t get any formal computer training initially. It was something I was just naturally good at. What I didn’t know, I seemed to be able to teach myself rather quickly. Hell — at one point when the World Wide Web blew up and making websites by coding in HTML was all the rage, I purchased a booked called “Teach Yourself HTML in 24-Hours” and with that book and my computer at home, I built my very first website in under 24 hours… Backgrounds, colors, different fonts/font colors, simple banners — all of that stuff was included in my first website and I taught myself the HTML I needed to create that website.
From there, I started doing websites for other folks. No big businesses; mainly new entrepreneurs who knew they needed to have a website to compete but had no Earthly clue where to begin to set one up. They certainly didn’t have the knowledge and back then coding in HTML was the only way. It wasn’t like it is today with WordPress and Wix and Weebly. There were no “drag and drop” website builders or copious themes to choose from to build your website nearly instantly.
Everything had to be hand-coded by someone who knew HTML.
But back to my clerical career… Eventually I became the Executive Assistant for the Vice President of Information Technology for a growing firm in the health care industry. It was here that I got my start in I.T. I made it clear that I wanted to transition over to I.T. and since he was the VP, he made it his point to provide me with opportunities to not only learn the I.T. world, but to begin my career in the support arena.
They needed someone to field calls for the troop of travelers. They had something like 200+ people who basically were on 100% travel for the job. These folks used company supplied laptops. When they were out in the field, on the road, they had no one to call them for help. I became that person. It began by just fielding questions over the phone and walking people through troubleshooting and repair techniques over the phone. It eventually evolved into me being the Desktop Services Supervisor and being in charge of the mobile fleet.
I too began travelling — out to locations where the mobile workforce would be gathering for a conference. While they were in conference, I would be setup in one of the ballrooms with all the equipment and tools I needed to do software and hardware upgrades. I would also troubleshoot and do on the spot break/fix for those who I wasn’t able to help over the telephone because they needed a tool or a patch or something that was beyond their skill set.
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This doesn’t have a lot to do with The Helpdesk, except that it’s about me. But it’s juicy and why can’t we insert a “Side Note” in the middle of the story? There are no writing rules when writing a book other than it be written well!
I have been with my husband for the last 20 years. When we first met was when I had this particular job that I am speaking of here. The job that had me travelling for a week, every-other-week for about 6-months… I had known my husband (then hot new “side piece” because I was already married to someone else!) for about 2 weeks when the job was sending me to New Orleans. I had never been to New Orleans and I had heard so much about Bourbon Street and the other fun things to get into in New Orleans. Naturally since I was getting a free trip there, I invited him along — even though I had only known him for TWO weeks…
My co-worker and also my girlfriend at the time was beyond herself! She was like, “What if he’s an ax murderer? You all the way in New Orleans! He could kill you and no one from your family would know for a long time. They wouldn’t even know to look for your body in New Orleans!”
I bantered back at her explaining that if he’s an ax murderer, why would he have to take me to New Orleans to kill me and dump the body??? We are alone together in my house almost daily (at the time it was summer and my son spent most of his days at his Grandmother’s house during the summer — his choice…). If he was going to kill or harm me, he could do it in the privacy of my own home. The opportunity was certainly there often.
But back to the lecture at hand…
He and I had a glorious week together in New Orleans. Went to Bourbon Street. Had Jambalaya at the House of Blues. Went sight seeing… But the “juice” is that on the first day there, after coming downstairs to start the day, I “disappeared” for about an hour. And what a FUN hour that was! LOL Yeah. You guessed it… I went back to the room for a quickie with my then “friend” — he wasn’t even my SO yet!
My co-worker was a little pissed, but she got over it. I guess. It really doesn’t matter. I didn’t care then and I certainly don’t care 20 years later…
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From there, I took the jump from working in downtown Baltimore to a large law firm in downtown DC. I made the jump for two reason:
- From the private sector to the legal sector because law firms pay even higher rates.
- From Baltimore to DC because DC pays more.
I moved for a “double dose” boost in my financial situation… Now, I knew you had to be a “special” person to work at a law firm. I knew the rules of engagement and the office politics were no where near the same as in regular corporate America. But I didn’t realize that it’s a whole new world working for a law firm! None of the regular rules of working in an office apply. The Human Resources department doesn’t look out for the best interest of the employees — even though they make pretend like they do. There is “us” — non-attorney staff — and there is “them” — attorney staff. Each treated differently in general, and certain by HR.
When it comes to HR issues that involve an attorney, the saying “the customer is always right” is an understatement! These attorneys can just about be caught “grabbing a woman by her [insert vulgarity here]” as Number 45 says men can do to women and don’t even get a smack on the hand. But let a non-attorney staff member accidentally forget to fill out their timesheet on time and they are up in HR about to be put on a performance improvement plan.
Shifting back to my I.T. career movement, my first position in DC was as a Remote Access Applications Specialist. I had worked my way into remote access during my tenure as the Desktop Support Supervisor. That is how I got myself into a firm in DC — through my remote access knowledge, understanding and skills. I worked in this position for a little over a year, utilized my time here to get some certifications and to take the MCSE courses. I managed to get my MCP, but I never made it to a full fledged MCSE.
And nowadays you don’t even hear about that certification any more…
After receiving a slap in the face, I slapped them back in the face. I utilized their generosity in training and got my CCA — Citrix Certified Administrator — certification. It made sense for my job, it’s a remote access application and I was a specialist in that realm so I had no problem getting approval for the firm-paid training. Shortly after receiving my certification, I began looking for jobs that I could use my certification.
Low and behold, I didn’t have to search long or hard. I was able to land a position as the Citrix Server Administrator for another large downtown DC large firm. Not only did I land the position, but I secured a $15,000 pay increase in the process! They say that networking — server management — is the Bees Knees in the world of information technology. This bump in salary without the firm blinking an eye and I am 1) black, 2) female, and 3) no college degree — “3 strikes” — was a holy testimony to that fact.
Networking may have been the area of I.T. that paid the most and that everyone wanted to get into, but let me just tell you that I found out swiftly that it wasn’t for me! There was little to no interaction between me and the end users. I was Tier 2 at that point, just beyond the reach of the end users but not beyond being pulled to someone’s desk side to assist in a heartbeat. I came to work each day, took a look at the health of each of the 13 servers I was responsible for, sent messages to users who were connected that I was going to bounce the server (tech-speak for restarting it), bounce the server, watch it come back up and properly load all resources, and then sit for the rest of the day bored out of my mind.
That was not my idea of “making it”…
I hated that job so much that I took a job for a non-profit as their Executive Assistant just to get the hell out of that job! It was that bad. But as the saying goes, I jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire! LOL I hated the Executive Assistant position even more. I think I hated it so bad because I sat at a desk at the front door, so I was the receptionist too. I did things like put stamps on envelopes for grown people and answer their phones.
That I could stomach either! I had finally climbed my way up the latter and out of the secretarial pool and here I found myself right back there. I couldn’t do it. I worked 2, maybe 3 days and then I “disappeared”. I wouldn’t answer their phone calls. I didn’t go in to work. I just didn’t care. But I was also interviewing for another I.T. position too. One that I knew would be fulfilling. One that I knew I would enjoy.
It was a position on The Helpdesk.
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