Well, here we have it. Today, I’ve pushed a hard reset on my blog and now I’ll be using jekyll on Windows and hosting it via github pages. I’ll let you know how I like it, but so far I’m much more impressed with it than I ever was with wordpress. I’ll be working on migrating my old blog posts into this jekyll/gh-pages format in the future.

Adam Bertram and a good chunk of the IT community have been working on blog posts similar to this, and the goal here is to show the world how those of us in IT do our jobs day to day. Working remotely, this is actually a question I get a lot since I break the traditional 9-5 and have about a 15 foot commute. Being from a college town, I also get asked this a ton by students who haven’t entered the industry yet and are wondering what working in IT is really like once you get past all the homework.

I hope this gives you a good glimpse into the life! If you have any questions feel free to shout out to me on Twitter. Also, if you’re looking for more of these from different perspectives from all over the world, be sure to check out the full list of blog posts like these here.

Where are you located?:

Columbia, MO. Center of the US, heart of Missouri.

What is/are your current gig(s):

My current gig is as a Solutions Engineer at PhishMe, Inc. We specialize in information security solutions revolving around messaging and phishing in particular. As a Solutions Engineer I’m directly involved in the development of our Reporter product as well as automate our packaging and delivery process of our software.

What’s one word to describe your work?:

Automation

This is something that is getting more and more important. Each week I try and take 40 hours of work and figure out how to do it in 30 or less the next week. As time goes on this gets harder and harder, of course, but Powershell is robust enough to help us out here.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without?:

VSCode, Powershell ISE, and Git. Working remotely, you have no option except to work in collaboration with your coworkers. Using git, it’s possible to share thoughts and ideas on each project without having to be in constant communication (granted, the constant communication helps especially when dealing with some of the problems we face on the day to day). Powershell ISE and VSCode are my favorite editors for Powershell, JavaScript, and JSON files. There is definitely more to be expanded on here, but if I had to choose 3 these would be the ones. Depending on the type of problem I’m put up against, I can use anywhere from 10-15 pieces of software if necessary. Most of the time, though, simpler solutions are my preferred route.

What does your workspace look like?: (Take a picture if you can)

Something… like… this: Battle Station

Two monitors for work, and one monitor to my right for gaming. Coffee mug at the ready, with the wife’s workstation across from the gaming desktop. Ideally I’d be placed with a view of the window over my monitors, but seeing as how this is the first time in almost 10 years I’ve worked above ground (curse the IT basement) I’m fine just having a couple in the room.

What’s a typical work week look like?:

Monday

  • Be assigned my weekly role (Troubleshooting, Customer Builds, Projcets, etc.)
  • Take a look at the backlog from the week before and see if there’s anything I want to do myself and get to work

Tuesday-Thursday

  • Day to day stuff of course
  • Moving as many JIRA tickets from “To do” to “In Progress” as possible

Friday

  • Move as many JIRA tickets from “In Progress” do “Done” as I can
  • Push any changes to my branches for the weekend warriors

This may sound like an oversimplification but a lot of IT work, especially regarding automation, is a constant “variation of a theme”. See a need, fill a need. HOW is the part that changes, and honestly I do too many different HOW’s to be able to tell you what a typical week would look like.

What do you like the best about your role?:

The creativity involved. A lot of IT work seems fairly straightforward. Follow the best practices. Don’t do what this one guy did which messed everything up. Improve efficiency. blah blah blah…

What I’m doing now is really at the bleeding edge of Information Security. Each day I create something new and each day I’m able to participate on a team of professionals which challenge me to come back with more. More could be ideas, code, development practices, new ways of thinking. Staying on top of innovation is easily the most fun part of the job.

What’s something about you that no one knows about?:

I was actually a linux admin for a long time, and I didn’t tell any of my linux friends that I hopped ship over to Windows administration and Powershell

What do you listen to while you work?:

Depends on the mood. Typically I will have a Pluralsight course going on in the background (though… it’s really hard to learn JS syntax when you’re not looking and simultaneously coding in Powershell). When I’m too busy to think, though, I will go for my guilty pleasure of Die Antwoord Radio

What do you wish you could change about your work?:

If I could change one thing, I would try and keep the “startup” feel to it. As each day goes by, our company grows (Which is actually a really really good thing) but we do lose a little bit of that sense of wonder of a startup. When I was hired, there weren’t HR orientations and there wasn’t much of a structure to our day to day (we operated our troubleshooting queue out of a distribution list). If I could, I’d go back to that small business feel, but I understand why we’re growing and why we are becoming more structured.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?:

Whether you’re new to IT, or whether you’ve been in the field for ages, there are tons of resources out there to help you learn. One of the things that scares me about bringing new people on the team or having people say “Oh yeah, I work in IT too!” is that a good chunk think that as soon as they’re in the field they can coast through the rest of their job. My job seems to turn itself on its head about every 3 months or so, but I’m also in an environment that encourages innovation and creation. If I could leave one piece of advice with anyone in this field, it would be to never be content with how much you know because you can always know more.


Bryce McDonald

IT Pro Veteran and Solutions Engineer specializing in Powershell and automations