How to be the very best network administrator you can be

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Tags:
Career Development
Help Desk
IT training
Network administrators
Networking careers
I am four months away from graduating from ITT Tech at Austin, Texas. I am a computer networking student with a GPA of 3.67. I currently work help desk for Unisys Technical Services, a job I dearly love by the way. I wanted to know what advice you might give me on becoming the very best network administrator I can be. My goal is to become an admin and to train the future admins of tomorrow. Any advice you can share I would truly appreciate.

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Congratulations! I lived in Austin for 5 years and really enjoyed it. I moved on because it was becoming too busy and crowded. You have a good position to start with and experience is a great teacher and will help you take the lessons learned to others. Continue to aggressively pursue the most challenging tasks you can effectively handle and watch and learn from those who do the things you are not able to do.

Also, if you plan on specializing in a particular area such as Cisco/Networking. Be sure to at least become familar with the other brands like Nortel, 3com, as well as the Fluke tools, sniffers, and NETQoS. And it helps to keep your ear to the ground as to what technology is doing over sea’s since they are as advanced as they are.

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  • Bobkberg
    If you don't already have it, (your attitude indicates that you may) develop and maintain a good sense of intellectual honesty. By that, I mean to know (and divide) what you actually know vs. what you think you know. Listen to your users. They may not know anything about your specialty, but they know when their environment changes. By querying them about the specifics of their problem they may provide time or event clues that help you nail down a problem. The downside of this is that some folks will use your listening as an opportunity to blow smoke, or explain why you don't know what you're doing. But active listening still goes a long way in getting you respect. Learn to use a sniffer. You don't need to know all the details of protocols to get useful information from watching the traffic flow. Obviously the more you know about the details, the more effective your use of a sniffer can be, but I've found many problems simply by observing that the IP addresses I expected to see were not the ones I actually captured. Training is good, training can be wonderful! But don't be one of those folks who let the lack of particular training hold them back. There are books and web sites galore with the information you need. There are sites like this (forums). Label, Document, Keep Clean. Keeping a clean organized environment is often overlooked, but when you need to track down problems, there is often a lot of time lost trying to figure out what you need, where it is, and avoiding tripping over or disconnecting things because of the mess. Those should give you something to reflect on as your star rises.... Bob
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  • Ed Tittel
    Dear NWATE: I'm responding to your query as a "paid expert" for SearchNetworking, as as somebody who's been active in IT certification, professional development, and network analysis for over 20 years now. I would like to start my reply by wholeheartedly endorsing what Bobkberg and Labnuke99 suggested and recommended. In fact, it's impossible to overstate the value of learning from experience and persistent trial and error when it comes to developing your skills and knowledge as a network professional. That's what makes Bobkberg's suggestion to learn a sniffer (Wireshark is a great place to start; it's available free at www.wireshark.org) to begin a lifelong foray into network packet capture and analysis. Given your current background and job, you should probably think about tackling either MS Windows or Linux network administration credentials, such as the MSITP (with an emphasis on Windows Server 2008) or perhaps the LPIC, Red Hat, or Novell Suse certs (with an emphasis on some flavor of Linux server software). This would be a nice enhancement to your ITT training (I, too, live in the Austin area, BTW--check out my Web page at www.edtittel.com) and should help you position yourself to climb into network administration and management. If you have further questions or concerns, please voice them here in this message thread. I'll do my best to proffer a speedy reply. Thanks for posting, and good luck with your career planning efforts. --Ed--
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