Unintended Consequences


A sudden departure in our department resulted in our System Administrators being left short-handed. For the most part, most departments in most organizations can tolerate short-term short-staffing. It generally means that activities can take a bit longer to complete, and it can leave the remaining staff feeling overwhelmed. The PC support group has felt that at times, with various staff members being unavailable due to individual circumstances. Most of the time we roll with it.

Due to budget constraints, there was a question as to whether the department was going to be able to fill the position. Approval was eventually granted from the powers that be, the opening was announced and the position was posted. When I told my husband that the guy had left, he asked me if that was something I would be interested in moving into. I told him I didn’t feel qualified, that position has a great deal more responsibility that I have as a PC Support Technician. Our site lead let us know where we could find the postings in case we were interested, and when I looked at them, job posting assured me I wasn’t qualified. One of the qualifications for the position is Security+ certification, or the ability to attain the cert within three weeks.  I dismissed the idea and moved on. I genuinely enjoy my work, and I know that I could work with whomever was selected to fill the position.

During this time, I have continued to study for that Security+ exam. This is the next logical step for any mobility in my career, at my current employer or anywhere else. I have been working the plan I had laid out for moving toward the actual exam. However, as time went on, I felt impressed to apply for the System Administrator position, regardless of my perceived lack of qualification. I have read many times that we shouldn’t be afraid to apply for a position for which we may not feel perfectly qualified. I sent my husband a text message telling him I planned on applying for the position. He replied with enthusiasm and expressed is confidence in my skills and abilities. My husband is my strongest cheerleader.

The process for working for a government contractor has a lot of hoops to it. The prime contractor had decided which of its subcontractors would post the position, and applications would go through them. The subcontracting company I work for was not one of the two through whom this posting was issued. Even though I am already employed through a subcontractor, for me this process would entail applying through a different company, and I would be required to leave the company I work for and begin employment with a different company. Before I embarked on that process, I got my updated resume to our site lead, and I told him that I knew I would need to jump through all the proper hoops, but I wanted him to have my resume right away. He was very encouraging, and he also advised me to wait on the formal application process for a day or so while he checked on something. He wanted to find out if they were going to have my company post the position; that would make it a lot simpler for me. A few days after that, he mentioned that I might want to ask my company if they knew anything about the position, so that they could try to get the authority to post it.

The company I directly work for has impressed me in a lot of ways. The process of working for the federal government, even as a contractor or subcontrator’s employee, is a tree-killing operation. It can become very confusing, and it is intimidating. The Human Resources director walked me step by step through each phase, answering my questions and making sure we got it all correct the first time. I did not want to have to go through all that again, but if it was necessary, I would. But when I asked the HR director if they would be allowed to submit me for consideration for this SysAdmin position, she passed it on to one of the VP’s, and he took the ball and got my name into consideration. He did ask if I felt qualified for the position, and I laid it out for him: I had done something similar at my previous position; I am already onsite, and I am already aware of the culture and methods; additionally I would be available to fill in on PC support as necessary because I have been doing it. I also told him that I was aware that there would be a lot of candidates for this position, most of whom would be better qualified that I; but I am no worse off for trying, and I would be able to work well with whomever was selected for the position. I left it at that, and the VP got my resume submitted.

The notification that I got the job was a complete surprise. I feel it’s a good move for the organization, though, because it does allow them to hold a position that they might lose completely if they couldn’t fill it internally, and this way they don’t lose a PC Support position that they also might not be allowed to fill if that got vacated completely. As with every new endeavor, I have had moments where I wondered if I can really do justice to the work. Then I remember, I have had these moments with every new endeavor. My husband has expressed his confidence in me, and he is the one who knows me best; he also never pays empty compliments. NEVER.

But one result of this new position is that I need to move faster on Security + exam prep. I don’t know that I have only three weeks, but I do need to make it happen and FAST. I have finished my first pass through on my primary book. I have been listening to the recordings I have made. I have the study guides from ExamCram loaded onto my Nook so I can squeeze in some studying anytime I get a chance. In fact, I have put all my other tech goals on hold so I can focus intensely on this one.

I’m ready for this.

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