5 Things I Learned While Interning as a Sysadmin

 By Nina Wooten
Sep 16, 2019 • 5 minute read

Paessler is very open-minded when it comes to ideas that help “broaden your horizon”. One of the great opportunities we have here is to do internships in other departments to learn new skills, understand pain points and grow together as a company. Since I’m fresh out of university and felt that I lagged behind on the more practical side of anything related to IT, I got to live as a Sysadmin for two whole months.

Getting this exclusive look behind the scenes has been a great honor and made me feel a lot more confident in my knowledge. To pass on this great learning experience, I summarized five of the biggest lessons for you to enjoy.

Be a Nerd

👨🏻‍💻 Ok, before you say this is a stereotype – it is. And it’s a good one. Nothing makes your day more bearable than a joke. And following this incredible wisdom, every day in Paessler’s IT department starts with a “Flachwitz” (this is the German word for a pun that has such little depth that it is “flat” – isn’t German humor great?). It also took me about two weeks to get some of the more “obscure” insider jokes (press F to pay respect!), but I got there. And it is great to be part of this culture!

Be Patient

🦸‍♀️ I’m not only referring to having patience with Layer 8 – my biggest obstacle was being patient with technology. If there ever was a reckless user, I am one. And after each of my “This doesn’t work!” outcries, the first response was “Give it some time”. And to be honest, in 85% of cases, waiting 2 minutes solved my non-existent issues. Also, double and triple clicking/pressing does not really speed things up – unless madly hacking into your keyboard at least makes you feel better.

Documentation

📑 This saved me. On the first day of the internship I was afraid to ask too many questions, not wanting to annoy anyone or add additional workload to already very busy work days. Being able to look up every work step I had to do, either on our intranet or on Google, not only ensured I learned more (reading helps to get deep into topics), but also improved my problem-solving skill.

Communicate

🗣 You probably heard this one before but hear me out! When communication happens efficiently and effectively, the first two paragraphs become less important. When two worlds collide (IT experts and non-experts) explaining issues and solutions is tricky. This is due to different vocabulary, and different levels of understanding and expertise. Describing a specific error (especially if there is no error message) can be as difficult as saying “Do X” and being surprised when it’s followed up by a “And now?” as you fully expected the person would know. So, sometimes gracing the System Administrators with your actual presence for 5 minutes will save everyone time and a lot of grey hairs.

Turn It Off and On

🔌 Another cliché. But true nonetheless. When I did not know what to do, turning it off and on or unplugging and plugging it back in again were my go-to-solutions. And it often worked – sometimes to my surprise. And if it didn’t, aren’t we all glad that there are still real System Administrators who know what to do?

So, what else did I take out of this? Grab every chance you can to do something outside of your “work comfort zone”. You will not only grow your skills, but in this case doing an internship actually helped me to understand why some workflows were in place and how to facilitate processes.

Have you done any similar internships? We would ❤️ to learn about your experiences in the comments!