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How would you describe an average day in the life as a computer systems administrator?

Hi! My name is Anina, and I'm an intern for Career Village. I'm trying to decide what career is the right one for me. Do you like your job? What is the hardest part about it? What are the hours like? I really want to work on a team of people, rather than on my own. Is this a problem for this career? #computer-science #technology #software

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Michael’s Answer

The majority of your days are spent in 3 primary buckets. Deployment, monitoring, and maintaining. The actual amount of time spent in each will depend on what you inherit from the person or team before you and what tools the company has invested in to help IT be more efficient.


Deployment is setting up new hardware, installing operating systems and applications, and if the environment is efficient enough you get to innovate for the company by creating new and exciting applications.


Monitoring is making sure the hardware you are responsible for is working correctly. There are alot of tools to do this from a single application where you can watch for errors.


Maintaining is making sure when you have errors they are fixed in a timely fashion as well as maintaining hardware and software firmware. This task can be very time consuming if you walk into an environment that hasnt been maintained over the years. It also has strategy associated with is since you as the IT admin need to find the versions of the firmware for your devices that work best and then control any variance in that.


Do you like the job? You will get a varying response on this, if you really like IT and hardware you will enjoy it a lot, with the right company you will get to see innovation and be on the know of all the new technology before most of your friends.


Hours? Normally you can make this a 8-5 job but you will have instances where things break and you have to work on a weekend to fix or after hours as well as big deployments can cause some 12+ hour days.


Team Environment? Depending on where you apply you may have a small team that you work with but it is common that people are in silo's even in that type of environment since they handle different parts of the environment (servers, software, virtualization, networking, etc). This is a great question to ask back in an interview though, something along the line of "what kind of team building activities do you commonly do?".

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Sandra’s Answer

You will have the best of both worlds i.e. as part of a team or work on your own , Another benefit everyday is different, But a principle that has worked for me is whatever you put in is whatever you get out. Adopt the approach that this is your business and always look at things from that perspective. Treat the customer how you would like to be treated and it will be an enjoyable career. Enjoy!!
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Marie-France’s Answer

I agree with all the points made by Michael (deployment, monitoring, and maintaining). There are many other factors to consider as well. For example the type of development methodology an organization has adopted. In the case of Agile, the computer system administrator may get involved in additional "buckets" where time could be spent e.g. meeting with the business and other IT members to discuss impacts, requirements, etc.. Those meetings can occur 2-3 times a week for an average of 1 hour. Therefore, the role could continue to evolve over time and that is what makes it very exciting!
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