Saturday, 14 August 2010

Day One: "Just don't break anything"

I got my first IT job in January 2003. It wasn't a good time for IT. The industry was limping from the aftermath of the dot com crash and many of us were searching for jobs that had long since dried up. I looked for months and couldn't find anything so I thought, well I'll just work for free to get the experience. So after a few covering letters to the first companies listed in the Yellow Pages, a small IT infrastructure firm took me on. Before I started work, we had an informal chat in a coffee shop where gave me the lowdown on the business.

He and his business partner were the sole owners of the IT company that had been running for about five years. They had made it through the dot crash but times were lean. Normally this kind of talk was the precursor to 'We can't pay you what you want', but as I was ready to work for free, I guess he was telling the truth. They had big and small customers. But here was the important stuff:
"Please please, don't break anything. These customers keep us alive so don't mess with them. And please don't break anything."
As I would find out later, these words would be really important. I learnt more about the fundamentals of IT Operations in this job than in any other. When you're small, you had to be good to survive. Customers pay for the services and Ops keep the services running, so it's really best not to break anything.

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