Hey watch it! Your Foot’s in the Door of the IT Industry!

I was just asked, for the millionth – well, okay, dozenth – time, by a prospective employee:  how did you get to be IT Field Manager?

This was asked by someone who is basically where I was five years ago: freshly certified in a couple things, some experience on home systems, but essentially no real experience on a zillion other things that you really do need to be hireable.

My first response, as always is:  you REALLY need to get out more if you are jealous of this job.  As fun as this work is sometimes, it’s also really low-paying in my market, and on top of that the pay IN NO WAY matches the stress level one is sometimes (thankfully, not too often) forced to endure.

I just came off two weeks straight of mindbogglingly frustrating work: application migration from an old W2K server to a new 2008 box, surrounded by the crazy micromanagement stylings of financial planning people who wanted to know why this shit wasn’t done yesterday, who are dealing with stress of their own, for obvious reasons (the financial market is tanking in case you missed it).  I will spare you the whiny details, because they really don’t matter, but during that time I probably would have traded this job for flipping burgers. Omigod, it so totally got in the way of my blog and everything!

Anyhow, getting back to my original point: this college boy whose résumé I’m looking at.  He wants to know how to get his foot in the door, I’m late for lunch and frankly not interested in this sort of discussion since I don’t make the final hiring decisions here, it did occur to me that this is a good question to ask, and one that I myself spent much time on when I was in his shoes.

Honestly – and unfortunately – the best answers are the ones we always hear from “establishment” (and yes that does suck for him): you have to meet one of two criteria to get your foot in the door:

  • Know someone in the company, or

  • Be prepared to do shitty helpdesk-type work for at least a year, maybe more depending on turnover at your company.

In the off-chance you do squeak through to a higher paygrade, be prepared to be in way over your head and YOU BETTER BE GOOD AT FAKING IT.

I remember when I first started working here at my job, I was thrown into doing warranty work for Dell systems, something I had already been doing for awhile, and was quote good at.  The job I wanted was Field Manager, which is where I’m at now, so frankly I was of course disappointed for not getting any new challenges at the new job.  Less than six months later, our then-FM decided to leave the company, something of a surprise, but good news for me, so I thought, until lo and behold, the job was given instead to a guy that had been hired after me!!!! (Well, okay, we’re talking about two months seniority, but dang if I didn’t feel betrayed anyway.)  Needless to say I was madder than a rattlesnake trying to bite a fencepost about that, because I felt that my EPIC LEVELS OF SENIORITY would totally allow me to bitchslap all comers.

Well, guess what?  That decision turned out to be completely appropriate in the end. First of all, he was just a better fit for the job at the time (read: more qualified, better temperament, the list goes on and on), and I can see that now.  I ended up as first the Assistant then full-fledged Sales Manager a bit further down the road, which was boring to me but a good lesson in customer service as well as a great way to get me to relinquish the last layers of my geeky insecurity with other people, for lack of a better term.  Next stop was General Manager at a satellite office, which lasted about eight months, and again, though not the sort of work I envisioned for myself, had some real value in terms of seeing up close what it takes to run the whole show (very apropos, since I am now thinking of starting consulting work full-time in the semi-near future). Anyway, finally the replacement Field Manager left for slightly greener pastures, and I was a shoe-in at that point for the job I had wanted for the past three years.  I took it and ran with it, and have in my opinion stepped up to the plate very admirably; even though the pay is not what it really should be, the work itself can be fascinating, and at least it’s got great relevancy for whatever my immediate job future may hold.

How did I get there?  There was no magic to it.  The main thing to my mind is that I showed the people I work with everyday that I am a real team player.  This is not just lip service, I mean I really went into work sometimes with the express purpose of making sure everybody in the office KNEW FOR A FACT, that when problems arise:

I AM ON IT, DUDE.

Camaraderie, and Honesty (with tact) are my top priorities, and even though there is always a bit of minor infighting in this work environment, I was damned careful not to burn any bridges (even though frankly it was hard to keep my hands off the match at times – we had some really crap mid-level guys to deal with for a time there.)

So, hey, College Guy, I feel ya.  You passed one test for sure: you came through the front door of our office, in person, resume in hand, and you did what you could get that position here.  Is it going to be enough to get you the job you want?   More than likely you won’t get the job (I know my boss, and he is fair, but having been burned in the past, he’s also tough about committing to new meat) – but keep it up.  Even shitty warranty techs can eventually get there, with a little patience.

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2 Responses to “Hey watch it! Your Foot’s in the Door of the IT Industry!”


  1. 1 pacer521 October 14, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    great post — just stopping by to say great blog! I am enjoying your writing recently and am looking forward to new posts.

    http://culturedecoded.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/the-importance-of-the-final-presidential-debate/

  2. 2 bootsinowski October 15, 2008 at 12:07 am

    why thank you, my friend, will be looking at your blog in a minute, got another post on the way that will in fact TEAR THE INDUSTRY WIDE OPEN.
    or anyway, it will be a nice post.


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