Question on the Love of Networking

What do you do on those days when you wish you never got into this field? Any advice?

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Walk around the block a time or two. Go home early Delegate

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Scott Townsend

Guinness. Lots of Guinness.

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Kevin Snodgrass

this is a great hardly gets better. Enjoy.

Try some Kahlua and Baileys(Irish Cream) with a splash of grand marnier.


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Kevin Snodgrass wrote:

Random suggestions I've implemented in my career of 15+ years and in no particular order! :-)

Remember what sparked your interest in the very beginning. Remember that as you progress, you'll start noticing that everything you learn isn't as new as it once was - a natural progression that shows you're gaining experience. Consider the things that interest you the most and work those into your daily work as much as possible. Think about how you bring value to the table and "sell" what you can do to the decision makers in your company. If they won't listen and you're in a toxic environment, then must consider your marketability. Get certified if you're not already. Integrate opensource into your toolbag

- it'll sharpen a number of skills along with your network skills. Have lunch with a fellow networker periodically. Join or form a local network user chapter (there may be one already in your city). Volunteer your services to your church and/or non-profits. Do some consulting work on the side - who knows, you may love it and take off on your own. Know what you want and DON'T WAVER FROM IT! Don't get pushed into management if that's not where you want to take your career. Constantly think about what you can do/add to your company that cannot be outsourced. When you leave at the end of the day, ask yourself, "...did I do the best I could today? Did I earn my paycheck or am I just going through the motions?"

Periods of burnout are normal. I've asked myself the question of leaving the networking field several times. Just remember that the grass is no greener anywhere else...every company is "dysfunctional" in some area. No place, manager, or environment is perfect. You simply have to know what you want, have an understanding of what it will take for you to reach those goals, understanding of what you can do to remain marketable, and then go for it! If a company is holding you back from that and your personal life isn't an issue, then you need to consider your long-term viability there. You're not doing the company and yourself any favors. I'd suggest that you sit down with your manager and have a heart-to-heart. If he won't listen, blows you off, or whatever, then you have your answer. I'm guessing by your post that you've only been in the industry for a couple of years. If so, don't lose heart. I've been there, done that! I remember when I started out I was worked into the ground. At one company, I worked there for 5 years...guess what my salary was bumped to - $25 to $26.4 in the span of 5 YEARS! It was great experience, but wasn't sustainable. Chances are you're going to move on a number of times in your career. Most companies won't hold that against you. I'd love to tell you that you can expect to stay with a company, but in today's greedy corporate environment, it's not likely to happen. Do the very, very best you can for your employer. They are providing a means to live for you and perhaps a family. Honor them with your talent. However, consider balance. It is a two-way street and you should expect to be treated like a professional.

Don't lose heart! Networking has been good to me. There have been some very rough bumps along the way. I wish you the very best. If you'd like to talk on the phone or otherwise vent, perhaps we can work that out. Despite the way things are going, this is a great field and there's a lot of potential out there. Don't listen to the trade rags, Gartner, or any other pundit that tells you that unless you're a manager you have no future. Do what you've been (pardon the pun) wired to do, do it passion and excellence, be flexible, and you'll not want for work. You will have doors open to you and people will come to know you as a great resource. It may take several years, but you'll get there. Focus on your goal, do your best, and remember what brought you here in the first place.

Again, best wishes!

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Thanks for the reply. The CCIE is so difficult and time consuming that it can be very discouraging.

These days, if you don't have a CCIE and are out of a job, you're not going to get a good paying job. There should be some kind of union for skilled IT workers.

There are too many negatives like job security. When you get up there in pay, you've got to start to worry a little that you could be replaced by a younger, cheaper worker. The whole IT structure sucks. I've been in the field for over 20 yrs and still don't have a great feeling about it all. I'm making a comfortable living but not having job security and a family really sucks. If I had to do it all over again, I would get in a union - electrician, teacher, etc...

Reply to
nich326 wrote:

Actually, I'm not sure I quite agree - at least not totally. :-)

I didn't see your original post, so perhaps I was mistaken in my above comments about your experience in the networking field. At any rate, I'd like to comment on a couple of other things in addition to my earlier post...

Unions - they are the reason outsourcing is the problem it is now. It is why wage stagnation/deflation is happening. They foster nothing but an entitlement mentality. They can't do anything to protect a worker in a global economy. Don't get me wrong, as I *hate* globalization. But raging against reality, at least in this case, will get you nowhere. Look at the auto unions and their respective companies. I live in the Midwest, and our manufacturing sector has been absolutely decimated by outsourcing. The only thing here is retail, healthcare, and financial services. The union bosses are in the local news all the time, but you never hear about their victory. Company X says this is what we want or we'll go to Mexico or Asia. Union caves. What does the union guy get? Compromise and a union dues.

The first few years of my career were in a union shop. Remember my above salary quote? It was BECAUSE of the union I went from $25K to $26.4K in salary over a 5 YEAR PERIOD! I couldn't move into a senior level administrative position because it was a union shop! I guarantee you that if electricians or plumbers could be outsourced, we wouldn't be paying $100/hr for a drain clog! Teachers have a union, but for what's expected of them, their pay is paltry. Yes they have liberal time off relative to other occupations, but consider this...I know that a local school system works on what is called an "index scale". A "1 index" references a teacher with a masters degree and 19 years of experience. Guess what a 1-index salary was a few years back? $32K/year! It's probably a little higher now, but still, 6 years of college, continual learning requirements, and 19 years of experience for around $32/K?!?!?

Let me get just a little philosophical here...I agree with you about security in this field. It can be dicey. I lost my job to outsourcing in

2003. I looked for work for 6 months. I hold a CCNP certification and 15 years of experience. 2003 was a bad year for anyone looking for IT work

- right during the tech downturn. I had a family that I was providing for (and sole income), a mortgage, and two cars. I was scared to death! I've quickly learned that in IT (and life in general), security is an illusion. The best one can do is continuously make sure you're marketable. Keep those certs and skill set current and relevant. You DON'T need a CCIE to do reasonably well. I have no degree and a CCNP cert w/15 years of experience. I make a very good salary. IT has it's problems, that's for sure. Unfortunately, we live in a different time then just a decade ago. We're watching the demise of the traditional American Dream because of good old-fashioned greed. Wall Street calls the shots, not the company leadership. We are in for a bumpy ride as a country. But you know, we *could* wake up soon and realize what's going on. As for me, I have typical responsibilities to address. I am also a Christian and have seen God take care of any need I've had - especially that awful year of 2003 and this past year (2006) when I was smacked with a divorce. That's when I fully realized security and trying to control my circumstances are an illusion, and there's more to life than finding your "happy comfortable place". I'd consider your outlook on things in general, and remember, no other career is really that much better. If it is, you'll likely trade money for stability/security. You could be one of the fortunate ones who have all three, but that's not the norm. I battle the tendency to get down on my career choice. I've stopped reading some of the trade rags because they're a lot like the local news - bad news sells. Ignore Gartner...those people must work for the antidepressant lobby! :-)

I'd encourage you to not look at unions as an answer, or, finding that perfect position that seems secure. Instead, I'd encourage you to think about the reality of our time - companies (in general) don't care about their people and IT folk are seen as a commodity. In general, senior management is clueless about technology and how it can be used to be more competitive and actually MAKE money. It's up to the IT guy to build relationships, not get mired in fire fighting, and be the very best at the thing that he/she is most passionate about. I know this has been true for me despite an unemployment stint. Now, though, I don't fear unemployment like I did! :-) My personal faith and seeing God work in my life gives me confidence that no matter how bad things look around me, I have a PROMISE that my needs will be met. There's so much I could tell you about how I've been preserved through so many storms. I know that my response here is unorthodox, but I identify with you on everything you've said and as I said before, I've been there/done that. Be encouraged, consider your personal faith, and never lose sight that this world (while scary and not improving as a society) is not being set to random chance.

Resist negative thoughts, but don't turn a blind eye to reality, either! In other words, don't just think happy thoughts. That's not real. Instead, consider the things that are *right* with your life. Be thankful for the job you do have. Work on the inner needs of your life such as faith. Be the best employee you can despite the company. If you have a family, be thankful for them. If no family and you want one, focus on becoming the best husband/parent you can by laying the groundwork for that opportunity. In short, be thankful and ignore the constant negativity that permeates our world. Meet with some fellow networkers or friends for a soda and a vent-session. Find something outside of work that you really enjoy and go crazy.

Remember - I'm right there with you in my own struggles to sometimes walk away from the networking field. These things I've mentioned, though, are what I do to get through the challenges. It also helps to know that in my personal faith, I feel that I'm on the path that I'm to be on. That makes all the difference in the world and gives me confidence. God would never bring me through the storms that He has, only to bring me to the present time and set me up for failure!

Again, sorry to be a little unorthodox but I know that cute little canned answers about certs and skill set won't cut it. I hope my story and thoughts are helpful and taken in the manner in which they're intended - to give you a different perspective and a testimony that you don't have to be a victim in what is the unfair life we live. Take care!

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Become a Microsoft System Admin/Network Tech for a school district. I used to work for a school district and those jobs are tremendously secure. The technologies are a little older but you will never have to worry about getting fired. You can raise your family and live in the community. There are many opportunites just keep your ears open and don't become doubtful because that will destroy your chances of progressing.


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