Congratulations on getting that systems administration job that
you’ve worked hard for! Now, it’s time to get both feet wet and get
What to focus on during your first month:
As with any job, there are two general areas that you should excel in
when you first become a sysadmin. One is the work itself. You should
be able to function well as the systems admin and get a grasp on what
you are doing overall. And two, you should work on your people skills
because you’re not going to be working exclusively with machines, the
network, software and programming. A large part of what you will be
doing involved interacting with people.
So what do you tackle in month one? Here are some considerations.
1. Full audit of all IT resources and equipment.
Right off the bat you will want to familiarize yourself with the
equipment that you’re going to use and administer. First conduct a
visual audit of your equipment and then a physical audit.
When conducting a physical audit, you need to take note of the
machine’s specifications, the operating systems, the hardware, and the
Check out how licenses are being tracked, which ones are expiring soon, and which are in need of renewal.
You should also work out the infrastructure, the cables, and even the wireless appliances.
If there are any helpdesk systems in place, you should familiarize yourself with that as well.
More importantly, examine how secure the organization’s systems are,
network vulnerabilities, security controls, encryptions used, passwords,
user accounts and other security features being used.
2. Talk with your subordinates as well as with other employees in the company.
If you are in a management position, you may be the boss, but it
would really help if you talk to your subordinates in order to find out
their needs, before making policies and changes. Take note of their
skills and training to fully understand what they can do and for what
functions you could tap them for when the need arises.
As a system administrator, you will also be tasked to help other
non-IT employees with their IT-related problems. During your first
month, it would help people from other departments to get to know you,
so you should try to make the rounds and talk to key people in other
Introduce yourself, and if you can, ask a few questions about how they are using IT resources.
During the first month, you should take time to introduce yourself to
other employees and give off the impression that you are approachable.
This will make it easier for you to build rapport with them.
Furthermore, ask them what they would like see and what problems they
usually encounter in terms of the IT infrastructure. It could be as
simple as not being able to connect to the company’s Wi-Fi network, or
having difficulty with a slow and under performing desktop computer.
This way, you would know what problems are prevalent and see whether
this is something you can fix. Gaining immediate wins is a great way to
start off a new job.
This is also an opportune way to know what FAQs and information you
need to come up with. You could even come up with information, relevant
to your organization, on how to troubleshoot simple IT problems – such
as rebooting a Wi-Fi router or troubleshooting the department printer.
In effect, you are educating employees on how to do simple troubleshooting, freeing you from having to do these in the future.
This will also help you know what types of training and in-house
seminars the employees need. Are there a lot of employees who use the
network and don’t know how to troubleshoot it? You can suggest a
networking seminar to the management to help employees with it. Are
employees using their own devices ( BYOD), only the users don’t know the
first thing about securing their devices? Conduct a security training!
3. Do a little housekeeping.
During your first few days on the job, you should make sure that you
have all the necessary login information (usernames, passwords, PINs,
etc) that you need to perform your duties.
It would be advisable to change sensitive information, such as the
passwords, to ensure that no unauthorized people would have access to
secured equipment and systems.
If there is any documentation left by your predecessor, you will want
to read those to ensure that you know what to do or where to look
should a system break down. Also, make sure that the installed
programs, systems and software developed internally have proper
documentation. If you cannot find any, ask the previous system
administrator for a copy if you are able to. If not, ask any of the
staff if they were able to assist and come up with or create new
Also, see if there are any software and systems that are being used
that you are unfamiliar with. For example, if you’re not familiar with a
certain network management software, then spend time looking for
manuals or online resources that would help you learn it. If you have
time during your first month, look over the materials you have to learn
about the software and how to operate it.
The People You Should Know
It is ideal that you should get to know each and every employee in
your company, but we know that this is very time consuming. So focus on
the people you would be working closely with and those you need to know
in order to do your job well.
Of course, you would need to get to know your team, as well as your
superiors. This will help you work better, especially in bigger
organizations where there are people (such as IT architects and quality
assurance personnel) who will be sharing your work and doing some of the
things that a systems admin in a smaller organization would do.
If you get to know the heads of various departments and the big
bosses, this will help you get to know what they require of you. Also,
if you should ever need resources, you’ll have an easier time in
negotiations for those assets.
Standard Rules Apply
Soon enough, they might even bake you a cake!
Remember that even as a systems administrator, you will still be
starting a new job. You’ll be a newbie in a new company. Be observant
of the “rules” and “norms” of the company. If the atmosphere is
generally laid back and informal, there is probably no sense to be stiff
and formal when talking or dealing with people.
Just be yourself, do your job well, and you will be fine.