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A Network Administrator's View

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What is it like to spend your life administering a network? No one can provide you with a better idea of what is involved than those who are currently spending their days troubleshooting connectivity issues and dealing with system problems. The following sections consist of two interviews with network administrators from two very different environments. From their answers, you will see that although network administration as a job is much the same wherever you go, the actual work environment can influence daily tasks.

Interview :

Marlon Gordon works for a financial institution in London, England. This interview was completed during one his (rare) quiet moments.The objective was to find out how he felt about his job and also to see what advice he could offer for those starting out in a career in networking.

What is your job title, and how long have you been doing this job?

[Marlon]: My actual title is Senior Network Analyst. I have been in this job now for just over a year.

What are your main duties?

[Marlon]: I generally look after the network, but also spend a lot of my time evaluating and implementing new solutions. More often than not, the products offer new features, but we are increasingly looking for ways to speed up the network and reduce administrative overhead.

What systems are you currently working with?

[Marlon]: We have a number of Novell 4.11 file servers, which we use for file and print services as well as email, intranet servers, and Internet access. We are also currently evaluating NetWare 5.1 as an upgrade. I also work with Tandem systems. which interface with our PC systems and Windows NT server.

What qualifications or certifications do you hold?

[Marlon]: I have college diplomas in electronics and computer maintenance as well as a college degree in Information Technology. I have started working towards my CNE certification, but between work and home I am having trouble finding time to study. Even so, I have managed to pass a few exams along the way, and I am determined to finish it one way or another.

How long have you been working in IT, and how did you get started?

[Marlon] :Ten years. My first job was repairing PCs, and it just started from there.

What hours do you normally work? If you work evenings and weekends. do you get paid for it?

[Marlon]:Things are very busy right now, so I am working somewhere in the region of 72 hours a week. I do get paid if I work on the weekend, and I also get \ day off if I work on both a Saturday or a Sunday.

Careers in Computer Networking

What do you find most interesting about your job?

[Marlon]: I really enjoy evaluating and implementing new products, and then seeing how those new products have an effect on the business. It can be very rewarding in that respect.

What is the least interesting aspect of your job?

[Marlon]: I am probably one of the happiest IT guys in the world because anything to do with my job I find interesting.

Do you consider your job to be stressful?

[Marlon] :There are no words to explain how stressful my job can be.

Do you work with other people or alone?

[Marlon]: I tend to do a lot of work on my own, although because of the amount of changes there have been recently, it's made it necessary for me to request some assistance. I have just taken on a trainee and have been busy training him.

If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?

[Marlon]:The hours that I work don't leave a lot of time for anything else. If I could change one thing, it would be to have to work less hours.

Can you see yourself staying in this area of the IT industry, or would you like to try something different?

[Marlon]: I really enjoy the technology I work with and the environment I work in. If I were to change anything, I would probably like to remain doing what I am doing, but involve a bit of travel.

What do you consider to be the most challenging part of your job?

[Marlon]: Without a doubt, it is the implementation projects. More often than not they have to be implemented on short timelines and have to work 100 percent from day one. It can make for some exciting times.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in IT?

[Marlon]: My advice is to try to find a company that will take you on as a junior and train you to be certified in one of the platform technologies (Microsoft MCSE or Novell CNE).You will find that most companies offer certified training nowadays as part of the overall package. Most of all, good luck!
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