CSI Network Manager

School Laptop
School Laptop

Before I created Freeperiod I was an ICT Network Manager. There is a CSI element to the role of Network Manager.

As a Network Manager you get calls to come and investigate some upsetting scenes. ICT rooms in a total mess, laptop keyboards with keys removed, grafitti on computers and the theft of mice balls. Thankfully optical mice solved the problem of ball-less mice. I do remember however lamenting with the Technology & Design Technician when a student decided to cut through the lead of one of his soldering irons while it was still plugged in.

I took a zero tolerance approach to damage. I discovered that if I left damage unchecked the problem got worse. For example, if there were one or two keyboards in a classroom with grafitti the problem would spread. Removing the grafitti or keyboard nipped the problem in the bud.

I also discovered another fauble of managing rooms. Putting chairs under the desks at the end of the lesson resulted in the next class doing the same. As people we seem to respond to our environment accordingly. If we come in to a messy room we show it less respect and vice versa.

So hats off to those who manage our school’s resources and create postive environments which say, “we write in our excercise books here, not our equipment”.

How to make the transition from being an IT Technician to an IT Network Manager?

So how do you make the transition from being an IT Technician to an IT Network Manager? How do you go from being the person with the Spiderman t-shirt with an office in the storeroom to the manager who gets to go to meetings with coffee and jam scones?

I worked in education for thirteen years and enjoyed my time as an IT Technician and Network Manager. In my experience there were a number of keys which helped me transition between the two roles. Two of these keys were education and training.

School’s take qualifications seriously. The first key for me was realising I needed to jump through the qualification hoop to get ahead in education. I did a degree with the Open University while working as an IT Technician and never looked back. You may be able to build a server with your eyes closed but that won’t get you seat at the interview table. Qualifications tend to do that.

It is pretty obvious a manager is someone who manages people. If you are an IT Technician it is unlikely you will be managing other people. Ironically most Network Managers don’t have anyone to manage either. I found that delivering training is a good step in the direction of management. I taught IT classes to support staff and teaching staff. I delivered training sessions during in-service days. I think training is as close as you can get to management experience when you have nobody to manage.

Education will open doors for you and delivering training will raise your profile. In my next post I will talk about the importance of strategic thinking in being a Network Manager and the need to look beyond IT1.