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For my day job, I work as a Microsoft 365 Administrator supporting the Exchange, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams implementations, as well as administrate other Software-as-a-Service applications, for the company that I work for.
Though I still consider myself but a fledgling to the IT world, I worked hard and diligent to get to the point I am currently at. As someone who is an IT Administrator, and was able to get to this point without any schooling, I thought I would share my story on how I got here!
How I got interested in IT
Information Technology has been something I have been interested in for quite some time. When my parents got our first computer back in the early 2000’s, I absolutely fell in love with that thing, and my love for the computer technology space kept growing thereafter.
From solving my own computer issues to hosting my own websites and game servers, over the years, my love for computers evolved into something that I wanted to do for a career.
Of course, this was always something that I did as a hobby, and I had absolutely no interest in going to school for it. I always had the mindset that I didn’t need to go to school if I could just learn it myself.
And boy… was I in for a treat…
My early “career”
Straight out of High School, I ended up going to college for Game Art and Design. Back then, I wanted to be a game designer. Or… at least that is what I told myself.
I enjoyed playing video games and I liked the technological aspect behind the games, but a few months after starting school, I decided it was not something that I wanted to do.
Of course, I still had to pay off a couple months of student loans, so I ended up getting a job as a Table Games dealer at a casino, as it was the only place nearby that would hire me. With tips, it paid me significantly more than minimum wage, which was helpful.
Fast forward three years, and I ended up being in a bind financially. I was still working at the casino, but I was not making nearly enough money. This financial bind was entirely my fault, but I needed a secondary job to get out of it.
In the midst of looking for a second job, the owner of the company my father worked for found out and asked if I would be interested in working in a part-time customer service role. I was desperate, so I agreed to interview for the position.
During that interview, I mentioned my love for computers, and asked if they had anybody technologically savvy on staff. This being a small manufacturing plant, and getting a little inside information from my father, I knew that they didn’t have on-site IT.
So, I used this interview to try and weasel my way into getting the Customer Service position, but also be the “On-Site IT” person.
I ended up getting the job. Though my “official” title was a Customer Service representative, I ended up doing a lot more IT work then I thought I would. I would handle the desktop computers in the office, as well as on the plant floor, and I even started supporting the three Windows 2011 Small Business Servers that ran Exchange, MS SQL, and other software and services on it.
A few months after I started working there, my boss decided to get out of the contract they had with a previous IT provider, and relied on me for taking care of all IT related needs.
This was when I officially gained the role of “IT Support” and I would consider this the pseudo start of my IT career.
One thing to note, I was still working full-time at the casino at night, and working nearly full-time at this place during the day. So, I ultimately had little to no free time (and little to no sleep).
However, I took this opportunity of working in a pseudo IT support position to learn about Windows Servers, to learn more about hosting websites, and to learn about supporting the Windows Operating System.
Unfortunately, the place that gave me my first “IT” job ended up shutting down in 2017.
More part-time IT
When my previous place of work closed down, I met with the owner of another company that was going to potentially buy us out.
They ended up not going forward with the buyout, however, I was able to persuade the owner into giving me a chance to work as their on-site IT. This company was another small manufacturing plant, and it was pure luck that they didn’t have on-site IT.
This company is where I learned about VMware, networking, cyber security, and I also learned about supporting the Windows 10 operating system.
I managed multiple servers running software such as VMware, Veeam, an ERP solution, Synology NAS, and a handful of Linux servers running monitoring software and web software.
I took it upon myself to learn each and every one of these solutions, and do my best to support both the hardware and software running this company.
10 months of working at this company, I ended up being let go due too budget cuts.
This, unfortunately, left me in a bind.
My first full-time IT position
With the loss of my job, and nothing lined up to replace it, I now needed to find something that could replace my secondary income.
I decided to start applying for IT positions online.
Knowing that I did not have schooling, and minimal work experience, I applied for every entry level helpdesk position that was available.
During my search through jobs, I came across a position for desktop support at a large printing manufacturer.
I decided to give it a try, and applied for the position.
Long story short, I ended up getting the job!
The best part is that this was a full-time gig. It also paid enough for me to quit my job working at the casino.
From starting my pseudo IT journey at the end of 2016. I was able to land a full-time job in the desktop support role at the beginning of 2018.
I finally achieved landing a role in a career that I wanted to be in, even though I didn’t have any schooling!
Working my way up.
When I started in 2018, I quickly learned the ticketing system and jumped into working on tickets as soon as I was allowed too.
During my first year of working as a Site Analyst (the name of the desktop support role), I was able to achieve a lot. I was one of the top performers for number of tickets completed, I expanded my PowerShell skills and started creating scripts for other Site Analyst’s in the company to use, and I continued to learn additional skills in my spare time.
As a Site Analyst, I continued to better my customer service skills, while also expanding my knowledge of the IT infrastructures used throughout the company.
Though, however fun the job was, desktop support was not something I wanted to do forever.
I wanted to be a “System Administrator.”
I wanted to be in a role where I was able to manage/administrate IT infrastructure of some sort.
Then, an opportunity opened up.
Landing my current role
About 13 months after I started working as a Site Analyst, a position on another team opened up. This position was to be part of the team that helped manage the website infrastructure of the company.
Having an interest in hosting websites and game servers as a past and current-time hobby, I decided to give it a shot and apply.
Unfortunately, I never received a response for my application.
I was disheartened, to say the least…
That was until I found out that the IT department was being reorganized, and that team was being moved around. Thus the position no longer needed to be filled.
During this reorganization, a new team was being created. A team that would handle the administration of Microsoft 365 and other Software-as-a-Service products used throughout the company.
It so happened that this new team had two open positions, and it so happened that the team fell under my current boss, who was the one that interviewed me for the Site Analyst position.
I contacted my boss, mentioned that I was interested in the role, and I ended up applying.
From there, I met with the other two members of the team for an interview. I made it past that interview and went on to interview with the director of our department.
Soon after the second interview, which I was extremely nervous about, I received an email stating that I got the job.
Hot damn, I did it!
I finished up the work I had in my current role, and in May of 2019, I moved to the team that I currently work with.
Since 2019, a lot has happened. We had a global pandemic, our IT department switched to a hybrid environment that allows employees to work from home if they choose, two of my team members have moved on to other positions both in and out of the company, and we now have two new team members.
I continue to grow within my role as a Microsoft 365 Administrator, working closely with my team to ensure that Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Teams are all working as they should. I have expanded my knowledge and learned about a handful of other Software-as-a-Service products, such as Box, Google Workspace, Smartsheet, Adobe Creative Cloud, and more.
I continue to expand my PowerShell knowledge, utilizing that knowledge to create scripts that my team, and others, can utilize to ease the administration of Microsoft 365 and desktop support.
I am currently spending time learning Python, hoping to utilize that scripting language in my role.
I continue to do my best to expand my knowledge and look forward to where the next chapter in my life will take me.
Though… I do have quite an interest in Linux Administration, so… who knows?