IT Professional

Why do I use the term IT professional to describe myself?

The short answer is because I've performed many of the roles in the IT industry from help desk, hardware repair, server and network administration and security (Cybersecurity), team lead, consultant, management, director, partner and owner. Programming and databases are not my favorite things, see below for more on them.

Currently I am pursuing an AAS (2 year degree) in Network Adminstration and Security (Cybersecurity). At the request of an instructor I became a paid "Peer Tutor" and Teaching Assistant to help other students with their classes. As a tutor I am not allowed to teach, I can help students understand what the instructor is asking for and help them find the answer. As a Teaching Assistant I can teach students, this role is for specific classes.

There are a couple of areas I left off in the roles I've performed - programming and databases. I've gathered software requirements, created the specifications, defined the logic flow and tested programs. I've gone through the entire process of creating a program including writing the pseudo code, and then I hand it off to a programmer. The thought of spending all day, every day, pounding out code horrifies me. I have written some programs over the years, most recently in Python 3, but those were personal programs or for classes.

That leaves databases. I'm familiar with Access and SQL, I can work with databases, in fact I deal with them several times a week on a personal level. Like coding, the thought of spending all day, everyday, working on databases horrifies me.

Network Administration and Security vs Cybersecurity.
"Network Administration and Security" is the more traditional way colleges described what is now most commonly referred to as "Cybersecurity". Information Security or "Infosec" was a popular term for a while. With data breaches getting lots of press coverage and having a greater impact on people's day-to-day lives the term "cybersecurity" has become more popular and more common, it's also easier to say and sounds cooler. In the end, anything computer security related is cybersecurity related, the terms mean the same thing.


Keep reading for the long answer.

My entry into the IT world began with GEnie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange) and GEIS (General Electric Information Systems) as an Assistant SysOP (Systems Operator). eventually I moved to AOL Canada (America Online) in the same capacity.

After AOL I focused on hardware. I built, customized and repaired desktops, laptops, work stations and servers.

Along the way I became expert in printer repair. I repaired impact printers (daisy wheel, dot matrix, line), laser printers, thermal printers and dye sublimation printers.

Mixed in with hardware and printer repair was OS and software support including server and networking. Networking including running cable when required. Server OS and networking included making sure they were secure.

I've been the senior technician that other techs call when they need help. I've also designed and delivered a lot of training and mentoring.

I've gathered software requirements and specifications. I've designed software and user interfaces, including writing all of the pseudo code before handing it off to coders. I've created and conducted software, system and user acceptance testing. I've evaluated software for enhancements, suitability and to see if it met needs and requirements.

I've created ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949 and A-SPICE (Automotive Spice) Certified documentation. I've ensured that documentation was up-to-date and correct.

I've designed and improved processes, as well as ensuring that those processes and documentation met ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949 and A-SPICE certification requirements.

As far as operating systems go, I started with DOS and have used almost every Microsoft OS to Server 2016. I've had some experience with Digital UNIX (including DEC OSF/1), AIX, SCO, Solaris, BSD, OS/2, Novell and a few others. Generally, if there was an operating system in commercial use I had at least some exposure to it.

I've been using Linux on my personal systems since 1998, I've even put Linux on an older smart phone to play around with, it makes for a small computer I can take anywhere. While I prefer Linux I usually keep one computer with Windows and a version of MS Server in my home office.


My Navteq / HERE Technologies Time

Initially Navteq started as a new career. I'd recently moved to the Fargo, ND area and needed a new job. My previous experience in the IT industry landed me a job at Navteq. It quickly changed from being a new career to more of a change within the IT industry. As Navteq grew the job requirements changed and complemented my previous IT experience.

Navteq was in the middle of a growth period when I started with them. The Fargo, ND office had been the main production center for Navteq since it opened in 1996. About the time I started with Navteq the Fargo office was not able to keep up with production demands, despite having approximately 500 employees, and Navteq had begun contracting work in India. The role of the Fargo office changed over the years, from production to managing and supporting Indian sites, eventually to "Advanced Engineering and Launch". Fargo was where products and processes went from an idea to stable production and were launched to Indian production sites. For many of us, our roles changed from geocoding (production) to project management and process engineering. Due to the rapid changes many of our job titles and descriptions lagged behind what we were actually doing and the roles we actually performed. A "Technical Specialist" may actually be performing the roles of a Process Engineer, Developer, Project Manager and Technical Writer depending on the day and the demand.

Navteq, later Nokia and HERE Technologies, was ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949 certified. As a supplier to the automotive industry the company was also required to be A-SPICE (Automotive Spice) certified. Both of these certifications required that everything we did met those specifications, including software, processes, documentation, training and products.