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November 17, 2009

7 Things Every Aspiring IT Pro Should Know


What Every Aspiring IT Pro Should KnowLast week, I asked my Train Signal coworkers this question: “What is one thing you wish you would have known about before starting your career in IT?”

I received some interesting responses, and today I thought I’d share them with you.

If you’re an aspiring IT Pro — or if you know someone who is — take a look at the suggestions below from seasoned IT Pros.

And if you have any suggestions of your own, share them with everyone in the comments.


Starting Your Career in IT? Here’s What You Need to Know

J. Peter Bruzzese

1. Master System Internals

“Personally, I wish I would have understood a bit more about system internals. It is a subject you can learn about with one PC, you don’t even need an entire network or tons of servers to study and understand more about symmetric multiprocessing, thread execution and so forth.

On the surface it may sound boring but it is of tremendous help when you have a system crashing for no apparent reason if you can mentally grasp what is happening within. To that end, I recommend the Solomon/Russinovich books and videos on Windows Internals.”

– J Peter Bruzzese

Matt Elias

2. Keep in Mind the Value of IT Certifications

“I wish I would have known exactly how valuable certifications are for advancement. After obtaining my MCP and A+, I was working so much that I did not spend enough time obtaining more certifications.

As I then accumulated more specialization, I found many new opportunities for an advanced skill set. They also gave me the knowledge to help make my day to day responsibilities much easier!”

– Matt Elias

Gosia Grabowska

3. Learn by Doing

“I think it would be the fact that in order to learn anything with computers you need to “do” things. Reading a book or watching a video is not enough. You think you know it but once you put the book down — you have no clue what to do.

Instead, the best way to learn is to install, configure, break things, fix them, troubleshoot, or actually perform the task that you are trying to master — and not be afraid to to things.

For the longest time I was afraid of doing anything to the computers/network in fear that I will break it and look stupid. Well, guess what – that didn’t get me far. Once I started doing things on my own I realized I learned a lot faster, I remembered more, and I could figure things out on my own a lot faster.

So, don’t be afraid to try things for yourself – it will pay off, trust me. Even if you break a couple computers.”

– Gosia Grabowska

Gary Eimerman

4. Don’t Forget to Network

“The importance of networking and networking events. As a techie there was always focus on learning new technologies, but the value of the human network you form can be priceless as you look to progress your career.”

– Gary Eimerman

Dave Lawlor

5. Don’t Get Stuck on One Technology

“One thing I wish I would have known about is how important it is to learn how to incorporate Cisco and Microsoft technologies together and how beneficial this can be to your career in IT. Today, this can be true for virtualization technologies, cloud computing, and many other technologies.”

– Dave Lawlor

Lisa Szpunar

6. Go With What You’re Passionate About

“I wish I would have known how much I was going to like it … so I didn’t waste my time and money getting a BA in Elementary Ed.”

– Lisa Szpunar

Mel Haynes

7. Be Aware of All Your Options

“I wish I would have known how important certifications would end up being vs. advanced degrees. I “grew up” so to speak at Bell labs where no one took you seriously until you at least had a masters degree. I later learned that Bell Labs was more like an academic vs. corporate environment.

I also wish I had known about the IT training industry. I took my first IT training class — from an actual training company not an “in-house class” — 8 years after finishing college, 2 years after grad school. I was shocked that someone could make a good living while having so much fun.”

– Mel Haynes

Kasia Grabowska

Bonus: 3 Things

Although I’m technically not an IT pro and I have yet to start my career in IT, I have noticed a few things that are beginning to play a major role in the IT field today.

So my recommendation to any and all aspiring IT pros would be to make sure you’re learning communication, customer service and management skills alongside technology. These three things will most definitely be beneficial to you in the long run and you will be able to take your career further.

– Kasia Grabowska

About the Author

served as the editor-in-chief of the TrainSignal blog from 2007 - 2012. In addition to covering a variety of topics, including IT certification, training and technology news, Kasia was also responsible for the content strategy and website management at TrainSignal. You can connect with Kasia on Twitter @kasialorenc.