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Old 11-09-2008, 04:15 PM   #1
Tommo
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How to become a System Admin


Hi there.

I finish university next year, and I haven't a huge clue as to what I want to do. One thing which has always interested me, is the idea of becoming a System Admin. I was wondering if anyone has any advice as to how I actually become one? Should I take a course such as this one, or is it a waste of time? Should I be looking to learn both Windows and Unix system admin, or would it be better to concentrate on a particular one? Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks.
 
Old 11-09-2008, 04:29 PM   #2
trickykid
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Learn both but excel in the one you really want to focus on. Expect to start out on the low end of the totem pole if you want to go straight to system administration. If you have some programming abilities, you can work your way up maybe faster starting out as a programmer, then make the shift to a system administrator type job.
 
Old 11-09-2008, 06:18 PM   #3
masonm
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I've worked at a Sys Admin at a couple of different jobs, I just sort of fell into those positions. Education helps of course, but sometimes it's just a matter of being in the right place at the right time (and of course knowing what you're doing).
 
Old 11-10-2008, 05:05 AM   #4
Tommo
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Thanks for the replies. So a course such as the one I suggested isn't entirely necessary? How do you suggest I learn? Is this good advice? Should I set up my own network, grab some books and dive in? I have an old dell computer lying in my cupboard that I never use, I could use that I suppose. Or are virtual machines just as effective? I recall a slashdot article regarding this matter a while ago and it was an informative read. I'm sure I'll enjoy learning, so I don't mind starting off at the bottom. I know a little C, and enjoy network programming but I haven't delved into it seriously as university has kept me busy. I know some Java and PHP too, I'm sure I could pick something up fairly quickly. I am based in the UK too, I'm not sure if getting a sys admin job is tougher here or not. Thanks for the advice.
 
Old 11-10-2008, 06:44 AM   #5
pinniped
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In my opinion you need to read a lot and actually have the hardware/software to administer so you can practice. That would help establish your basic competency. Then you can look at the courses offered and decide if they are of any value. Sometimes the greatest value is not in the course itself but in being introduced to prospective employers. If you go into a course 'cold' you probably won't learn much; if a course is too simple odds are you're wasting time and money and you won't have an opportunity to meet serious employers.

The down side of course is that becoming a good sysadmin takes an awful lot of time; being in a work environment with good people around to help you learn would be very beneficial.

Also have a look around for what sort of sysadmin jobs are being advertised and what the employers expect. You also need to think a fair bit about what sort of thing interests you. Do you want to work with data acquisition and processing, what sort of programming do you want to do, do you want to work for a small company or a big one, do you want to work mostly with individual machines or do you want to work on mainframes and supercomputers? With 'Big Iron' you can be running almost any version of UNIX. MS claim to have their 'HPC' version of winduhs on supercomputers, but do you really want to know the sound of thousands of winduhs machines rebooting?
 
Old 11-10-2008, 09:35 AM   #6
sundialsvcs
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My first job, never-mind years ago, consisted of: tearing pages off a line-printer and shoving it through a slot.

I did not care. I was inside that machine-room. I showed up on-time, clean and sober. I asked permission and voraciously read every manual that I could lay my hands on (and carefully put it right back where I found it, with a bookmark). I tried, rather unsuccessfully , to keep my mouth shut. I learned every password in that place and used ... okay, okay, almost ... none of them. And I watched.

I got my first job at that University and worked there another three years. Having placed myself in a position where I showed myself "faithful with little," I was in due time entrusted with "much."

Here's the soap: "you're about to graduate and you have no idea what to do when you grow up." Welcome to the Human Race! (Never-mind years later, neither do I!) You're at the point where you realize that those last four years were nothing more than boot camp. You're also accustomed to a situation where someone else has "prepared the way for you."

From now on, you must prepare your own way. So, be smart about it. Who in your home town needs a clean, well-mannered someone to tear pages off the line-printer and shove them through that slot? Who in your own home town or country is doing something that you could learn from? You're going to learn everything "on the job." You're going to find that a good reference is worth more than any certificate you could buy or any diploma you could hang on your wall.

And the good news is, you're also going to find that the demand for a good, dependable computer-person is insatiable ... anywhere in the world. Most of your competition is standing around on the street corner waiting for the bus that will never come to take them away to neverland. Walk past them on your way to work.
 
Old 11-11-2008, 04:04 AM   #7
Tommo
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Sound advice thanks. So now I have to find someone that will not mind me hanging around watching them.
 
Old 11-11-2008, 08:53 AM   #8
trickykid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommo View Post
Sound advice thanks. So now I have to find someone that will not mind me hanging around watching them.
Well, the decent and good senior system administrators shouldn't mind. If you find someone that doesn't explain things and seems irritated by you, they're not the right person for the job as you'll end up figuring out things on your own faster than hanging around such a person.

I was fortunate to be around two senior guys that were patient, molded me with good admin skills that I've carried with me ever since.
 
Old 11-13-2008, 02:23 AM   #9
immortaltechnique
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Trust me what sundialsvcs pointed is so very true. I also started off with an internship position at my university and did the compulsory 3 months, watchin in awe as some admins whipped oracle scripts and toyed with linux. This inspired me so much that i had to be like them so i fielded off for half a year still volunteering and then they found it in themselves to employ me. From there i have moved up and elsewhere where am still learning. My guess is that its all about the passion and also how patient you are.
 
Old 11-13-2008, 07:24 AM   #10
Tommo
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An internship sounds ideal. Would such a position be open to a novice such as myself, or would they require that you have experience? Since I am based in the UK, do you think it will be harder for me to find an internship job? A quick google doesn't give anything fruitful. I could email someone at my university, but I very much doubt they give such intern job offers, and I doubt they would want me buzzing about. I hate the thought of annoying someone, that's the only beef I have with watching someone do their job.

Last edited by Tommo; 11-13-2008 at 07:42 AM.
 
  


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