I have worked with many an IT engineer. I can divide them into three very broad categories:
Not technical at all
and three personality types:
Very poor interpersonal skills
Does what is needed but no more
Great fun to work with
And of course you can mix and match. Getting a super technical person who is also great fun to work with is fairly rare to be honest but it does happen.
I have worked with all sorts but the ones who stand out are the uuber geeks who can read hex like it is a Harry Potter novel and quote all the RFCs but you wouldn’t put them in front of a customer in a million years.
The others were ones who made work fun and did their job to the best of their ability. They could be pretty technical but it was more their attitude which makes them stand out in my mind.
This brings me onto skills I feel you will need to make a success of your IT career as far as being good at your job is concerned.
1. Touch typing – I know this is not a technical skill but if you look at a network engineer typing away with one finger on each hand, the customer begins to sweat. Being able to touch type at a reasonable speed means you can configure and fix things much faster.
When it comes to your CCIE lab you had better be able to type fast my friend because 8 hours flys by in a flash.
2. Google – answers to 99% of your problems can be found on the web in the form of white papers or forum questions and answers. Even at Cisco TAC, with an absolutely huge repository of information we often ended up checking Google for answers to questions.
3. An enquiring mind – great if you can configure frame relay but if you have an enquiring mind you will want to understand how it actually works. Where do the lmi’s fit in and what happens between your router and the frame relay switch?
You will want to set stuff up in your own lab, break it and then fix it over and over.
Don’t get caught up in too much off topic stuff if you have an exam coming up but most every good network engineer is good at lots of stuff but has a very in depth knowledge of certain technologies they find interesting personally.
4. Sense of humor – this is vital. When your backbone goes down at 17:00 Friday evening you will need to take quick action but also be able to keep a sense of humor about it. Be appropriate of course but I’ve seen grown men scream and cry when there is a network fault!
5. Be a people person – I know this is hard for many of us, especially if we are very technical. Unless you want to stay locked in the basement with all the geeks you need to work on your verbal, listening and interpersonal skills.
I know of one CCIE who is actually left in a basement, he can fix anything, anytime but the company would never ever let him in front of a customer. He can barely speak to his own colleagues.
When all is said and done, we will look back and remember the relationships we have had with others rather than the great configs we wrote.