Dear Lifehacker, I'm starting a new job as a systems administrator in a few weeks. I have a few years' experience managing a help desk, supporting between 300-400 users, and doing some Windows admin with a few servers (<10 most of the time), including SQL backups and basic maintenance. My new role is focused on the server/infrastructure rather than the help desk, performing many of the server duties I'm familiar with, however I am going to be a bit in the "deep-end" because I won't have any mentors in the new role, and my new boss is a project manager without a lot of experience on the technical side.
I've spent the last few hours scouring the web for ideas, and I've read through The Practice Of System and Network Administration, but there don't seem to be any tips specific to starting your new job properly. I would like to know if there are any suggestions you or your readers could offer to help someone in my situation to get accustomed as quickly as possible to the new environment; I know I'll need to draw the network layout - what servers do what and the like — and decide who the best people are to discuss managing tasks on those servers, and who uses them - but are there any specific methods or guidelines I should try to follow? Thanks, The Guy In The Next Room
Dear Guy In Next Room,
I've never had to administer more than a couple of servers at a time, so I'm not going to pretend to have any massive insights here — I'm trusting our readers who work in this field may be able to offer some more specific tips. The one thing that strikes me in your situation is that it may be a good idea to seek out a couple of one-day training courses early on. Once you've got a good idea of what's in place you may discover that there's some systems you're less familiar with. Given that your boss doesn't have technical skills, getting some extra training on those technologies would make sense for both you and the company. I'm assuming you wouldn't have been hired if you weren't already familiar with the key technologies used at this workplace — and that's something to remember if you're feeling swamped! — but IT roles invariably require regular skills updating.
Beyond that, I'm asking the wider Lifehacker community: what would you do to ensure a good start in this kind of position? Share your thoughts in the comments.