Your First Month as a Systems Administrator

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Congratulations on getting that systems administration job that you’ve worked hard for! Now, it’s time to get both feet wet and get after it.

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 software installed.

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 departments.

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.

4. Learn!

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 documentation instead.

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.

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