Posted by Wayne on December 2, 2011
Over the decades (yeah – decades) – I’ve had the opportunity to be mentored by many great people all through my career. 25+ years later I still seek out people who can guide and teach me new things and new ways to think. When I first started in the IT business I was a typical wet-behind the ears kid with an extremely curious side to me. I worked as a machinist for a company that made X-Ray equipment. I’d managed to get some college under my belt but wasn’t consistently going to school. I think one reason was I was making enough money to survive and part of it was I really didn’t find the domain I was studying (mechanical engineering) particularly interesting.
At the time the first “home” computers were coming out and I managed to acquire one and became completely infatuated with it. In no time I got pretty good at making it do stuff including things it wasn’t even really designed for (6502 assembly rocks!). One day my companies TRS80 that kept the warehouse inventory on it decided to eat a floppy disk with the inventory. Losing the inventory meant we all had to go home for the day while they tried to figure out what to do. Since I had time on my hands I decieded to go see what was up and offered to try to repair the disk. I ended up writing something that read all the blocks off the disk that were good – which was 99.9% of the inventory. Needless to say – things changed after that – I got offered a job as the system admin of our “mini-computer” almost immediately which was going to run a “real” MRP2 system. I didn’t know anything about mini-computers – but hey! I was now working in the field I really seemed to have a knack for and really was having a lot of fun too.
The manager of the IT department had a PhD and also did real-time microprocessor programming R&D for the companies X-ray systems. Once I got my sea-legs in the new job I started troubleshooting problems. I’d go to his office, ask for help, and he would ask what’s up? I’d explain the problem and he would always asked if I looked the error up in the manuals? and those first few times I’d always say no and he’d give me the look over his glasses that sent me on my way. I’d look the error up, chase the possible solutions through the manuals, narrow them down to the 1-2 most likely and go back to his office. He’d ask me what I learned and I’d tell him what I read and what I thought the problem was.