mlopez.dev

My Origin Story

Published: (Updated: ) in Career by .

Or at least the start of my career in IT…

I was fortunate and had a job offer lined up. My college was big on internships. I don’t blame them, it was a great way to start in your field and get some experience. Figure out what you like and perhaps even more important, what you don’t like.

I started college as a Information Security major. Red Team vs. Blue Team, intrusion detection, ethical hacking. That was what high school me thought I wanted to do. That dream faded my sophomore year after some grueling network courses. I understood the fundamentals and the practical side of it all. But once we got into RSTP and BGP, I lost interest pretty quickly. This was compounded by a foreign professor who decided to take a vacation for the first few weeks of the semester leaving us to struggle through complex labs with little instruction or feedback.

Pivot

I made a small pivot just in time for a internship in systems administration. While I had a bit less course work in this particular area. I was a quick read and motivated to learn. My job was to sit on an outlook mailbox and process user account creations/deletions and permission changes. Exhilarating. The actual process required a lot of data entry and providing paper-trails for auditing purposes. The same date would be entered multiple places which led to the potential for human error.

Growth Mindset

This was data entry. There was little technical skill required once you had the process down. I got to the end of the first week and said to myself. I’ve gotta find an easier way to do this.

The systems I was using were primarily AIX, an old IBM offshoot of Unix popular in the enterprise space. Lacking the modern conveniences of modern bash environments… I was left with Kornshell. Not being familiar with it. I simply looked for a way to automate my own input to the remote sessions that I was spinning up with putty all day. Luckily putty allows you to pipe in commands, and thus V1 of automating my job was born.

putty.exe user@example.com -m c:\local\path\commands.txt

I slapped some PowerShell in front to query for the parameters that I needed, saved the output to a file, then passed the file off to putty to get executed remotely. Voila! Quick and dirty. I blasted through the backlog of work left by the previous intern in just a day or two. And just as quickly found myself sitting at my desk with nothing to do.

Continuous Improvement

Version 2 came with some upgrades. I looked up some kornshell, and built out a little CLI for it all. Made some scripts for the common tasks. For instance with password resets, all I had to was enter the username and the request number. The script would generate a temp password, reset it, unlock the users account if locked, email the user, and save off the log for auditing. This freed me up to take on some real work.. aka not intern work.

My team saw the work I put in and while ultimately I didn’t get a position on this team. I did stay with the company, and not in system administration, but in development.

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