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Do admins get to meet a lot of new people on a daily basis at work? And what kind of people domain do they interact with?

Secondly, I've had this myth for a long time that unlike programmers, Network/System/Security Admins get locked-up in a den and juiced up late nights and early mornings. Most of the time they had to slip out of work without being noticed. How true and often does this happen for you?

I understand there is no specific answer to this question as it depends on the type of working organization. But just looking out for answers from your experience.

Thank you so much for talking time to voice-out your experience :) Very useful!

Clarification: I've had the question posted on to stackoverflow and they closed it. So I posted it here.

My people interaction and working hours: I'm a full-time CS student, Research Assistant, a Server Admin managing ESXi and Physical servers and soon will be hunting for a full-time Systems Admin position. My interaction is limited to the other Server Admin and our Senior Admin. Work hours were bad when we had to do bare metal install or any serious upgrades. Now its more of a 20hrs 10am to 2pm. A big smiley face overall <:D


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Maybe a community wiki? It happens alot, depends on where you work. If you have limmited IT resources and other employees figure out that you know what is going on they'll grab you for help. – Nate Mar 29 '10 at 19:15
What's your goal with this question? – Warner Mar 29 '10 at 19:38
Curiosity to know how hard it could be for admins! – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 19:43
I say this is good wiki fodder – Holocryptic Mar 29 '10 at 20:54
Community wiki it is! – sanksjaya Mar 30 '10 at 3:49

In a small organization, we interact with users every day. We have no helpdesk or techies to act as a buffer. In my admin role, I can interact with potentially anyone in the office. I also interact with the more senior people on the factory floor when there is a problem with one of the computers down there. Since the company is small, the only time I meet new people is when we hire new people.

The customer service folks act as a buffer between us and customers, but we end up fielding calls about problems logging in, bugs with our customer portal site, etc.

I work normal hours - 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. I refuse to work overtime unless I get paid for it and the company is not willing. I'd love to be locked up in a cave, but I sit in a "cubicle" which I have to venture out of for food, drinks, and bathroom breaks. I use the term cubicle loosing for my situation because I only have one cubicle wall: two walls are actual gyproc and the other is made up of storage cabinets pushed together. The only door I have leads to a dangerous drop to the factory floor and is sealed for safety. I'm working on extending my walls upwards with cardboard boxes.

meeting lots of people sounds cool (doesn't matter if it a small or large organization) :) But what about your working hours? – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 19:23
I've made a few edits. Everything you wanted to know should be there now. – Scott Mar 29 '10 at 19:25
Thanks Scott :) – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 19:29
+1 for "I'm working on extending my walls upwards with cardboard boxes." – pkaeding Mar 29 '10 at 20:07

I work for a non-profit foundation that builds public charter boarding schools for low-income/urban yoots. Including me there are two sysadmins, plus our director who does some of the grunt work as well. We manage three different physical sites/domains, with a user base of about ~200+ faculty/staff, and ~450 students all told.

We interact with the users on a regular basis, because we're helpdesk support and server maintenance etc all rolled into one. Frankly, if I could get away with less interaction, I would. But that's just not feasible. I spend a lot of my time "in the field" working on the computers and hand-holding the users through what should be relatively easy stuff. As much as I'd love to fire off an email and resolve the problems anonymously, the user base isn't savvy enough to explain their problems beyond "it doesn't work". As a consequence of being out so much, I get pulled into a lot of troubleshooting on the side. Someone sees me, and right away it's "I have this problem, could you look at it while you're here.....". Etc. I'm getting better at telling them to submit tickets, but I digress.

In terms of meeting new people, I still have yet to meet all the users at all my sites. There's just too many of them to be familiar with them all. So I guess you could say that I do meet new people pretty regularly.

I work the 10am-7pm shift, and I try to get out as quick as I can, otherwise I'll end up getting sucked into more and more work. The way I look at it is that there's plenty of work to go around, and that I shouldn't kill myself trying to do it all at once. The 1.5 hours it takes to get to either site is enough of a drag that I don't need to compound it.

Agreed! "I shouldn't kill myself trying to do it all at once" lol – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 21:05

I work as an administrator at a relatively largish university. 2000 fac/staff and about 15k FTE students. So a pretty big shop.

We have 12 people and 2 managers in our IT Operations team that does exclusively server administration and database administration. 8 Server admins, 2 security admins, 2 operations specialists, and 2 DBAs. I talk to my co-workers a lot. I don't talk to a lot of end users. I do talk to a lot of application owner type users, the local experts on their departmental systems. I go to about 5-6 hours of meetings in a week, where I see all sorts of people, but mostly other IT or Client Services/Help Desk types.

I used to talk to a ton more end users and meet more new people and deal with more tickets from end users. A couple of years ago we created a Operations Specialist position to work as a liaison between the help desk/client services and us. Those guys go through hundreds of tickets a week, performing triage, resolving them, and in general protecting the rest of us from interruptions where possible. Having added them to the mix my user contact is way down, but my useful user contact is way up! So all in all I think it's a great system.

As for hours, we're pretty flexible here. I do get wakened in the middle of the night by both people and the monitoring system on occasion. If it happens too often I'm probably doing something wrong. I work about 10am to 6pm most days. My office mate works 7am-3:30pm. I might spend another couple hours a week outside of work checking up on systems. We do our change management windows from 6am to Noon one Sunday a month, so no wacky late nights for that.

Certain times of the year we all work a lot more hours, summer when we replace hardware, back to school, finals, but most of the time we try really hard to stay in that 40-45hr range including evening time. If a system goes down or hardware breaks all bets are off and we're pretty much here til it gets fixed. One notable VoIP upgrade had me at work 22 straight hours, then off for 10 and back for another 15. My boss then more or less gave me the rest of the week to "work from home" (aka sleep).

We are in fact locked in a basement room behind a secure door. Most people don't know we're here, or if they do they have no idea how to get in (try knocking folks). Since we're pretty casual about hours here I don't have to sneak out so much as just walk out the door. That said, if they call in the middle of the night, I have to answer.

Working in the basement late at nights should make you feel like a hacker. Laura, that was so sweet of you taking time to reply!! Thanks :) – sanksjaya Mar 30 '10 at 3:34

I am both a network admin and a programmer and I can tell you, most of our programmers aren't very interactive with the company's list of employees. Admin work will be much much more closed off in communication from what I've seen. Usually Admin's may talk to people here and there, but usually its something small, or a problem that can be resolved with a quick email. All the admins that are employed by the company I work for are nonsocial, and want to really keep it that way, so they stay their distance. The programmers really have no choice since they have to understand what it is the requester wants.

Most of the time the PROGRAMMERS are the ones you slip out the doorway without anyone noticing. I promise you that. Admins can get calls all throughout the day, while programmers only meet others in scheduled meetings.

I recently found out from my senior who is a developer that he had to work late nights and Saturdays to meet product release deadlines. Very sad they ain't got much interaction either. Thanks Mike – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 19:46
Yeah my brother, who is a programmer, can shift his hours how he wants as long as he has 40 hours each week. So in order for him to prepare for a long weekend, he works about an hour overtime monday through thursday to get out around 1pm on Friday. Think about it. – Mike Mar 29 '10 at 20:12
That would be so cool Mike! Sadly I've never heard of such a thing for Admins :( Sudden emergency calls are fine if the problem is troubleshoot-able using ssh or vnc. – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 21:02

Coming from a relatively small company (~150), and being one of a team of 2 in IT, I have frequent interactions with everybody in the company - internal sales teams, staff in our warehouse, external sales reps from all over the country, right up to senior management (including the semi-retired founder of the company who lives out in Spain).

Not only do I get to know people internal to the company, but I also have our hardware providers, software providers, and service providers who I speak to on a semi-regular basis. Not to mention all the people who mysteriously have my direct dial trying to flog me stuff (must have been previous IT folk, as it's not a widely known number and I'm very picky about who I give it out to - for just this reason!).

Your myth is totally wrong, at least from where I am. Our office is all open plan (though we are against a wall for the sensitive issues we deal with), and in my opinion it's much better that way and has a much more social atmosphere. I'd hate to be "locked up" in some office down some corridor where nobody ever goes, and quite frankly I'd probably leave if we were "hidden away" somewhere.

It's myths like this that can give our profession a bad reputation, and if I ever hear anybody (in a serious manner) coming out with ergh, bloody IT, miserable, unsociable gits who are just out to spoil our fun I will do my very best to prove them wrong and that I'm just as nice a person as they are. For those new starters we have that genuinely believe IT are unsociable and non fun loving people, all the new starters in my time have changed that opinion, so I think I'm doing something right!

Unsociable hours are also another part of the myth. Our business is open from 8:00AM to 7:00PM, so I do the same 8.5 hours a day as everybody else does, but we do 2 shifts of 8:00 - 4:30 and 10:30 - 7:00 so there's IT coverage at all times. Sure once in a blue moon I might get a phone call at some ridiculous hour in the morning, but there's always a genuine serious problem, and it really is only once in a blue moon (say once a year if I'm lucky). There's also the odd weekend I'll be at the office, but it's only for maintenance that can't be performed during business hours, and I'll either be on overtime or get time in lieu.

In short: most myths you hear about IT folk are wrong, and don't let anybody else tell you otherwise!

Being a server admin, I can totally relate to your opinions especially on the one where we had to work as hard as any other IT guy in our organization. WOW! That helps a ton. Thank you Ben! – sanksjaya Mar 29 '10 at 20:58

I've gone from a helpdesk position to more of an administrative/database position at my job. I still have a healthy dose of client interaction due to projects that have followed me from the helpdesk as well as having built up a relationship with many of the clients while I was fixing there computers as a techie but the amount of clients that I deal with in relation to my actual duties these days is very small. As a server and database guy I don't often speak with the clients directly about what I'm doing day to day.

While I still maintain a good relationship with most clients, it's more just out of my friendly nature than my actual job. If someone comes to me with an unrelated question on a busy day then I will usually refer them to the helpdesk.

You seem to get quiet a load of exposure. Any specifics on your work time? – sanksjaya Mar 30 '10 at 3:37
I'm in from 7:30-3:30. Our IT staff here can work any 7.5 hour shift that falls within 7:00AM-5:00PM so I'm on the early end of things. – Sean Howat Mar 30 '10 at 13:39

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