Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day, a day for everyone to express their gratitude for the sysadmins who maintain the technical infrastructure we all rely on. For the first time since I’ve heard of this holiday, I’m not a practicing sysadmin. Wait, what? I haven’t said much about it for a variety of reasons, but I transferred to a new job (I had to move all the way across the hall!) in June. We’re still defining the exact scope of my job, but the basic foci are training, documentation, and engaging new and existing scientific communities. It should be interesting work, but it’s causing a bit of an identity crisis.
My whole professional career has been systems administration. Trying to separate myself from that has been challenging. It’s small consolation (though sufficient justification for entering Think Geek’s giveaway) that I still administer my desktop at work and a minimal home network. In much the same way that I consider myself a meteorologist because I have credentials and practice as a hobbyist, I can still consider myself a sysadmin. But it’s not the same.
Since starting my new job, I’ve caught myself thinking of myself as a[n active professional] sysadmin. When I realize that I’m not, it leads to a search for identity. The fact that my new job doesn’t seem to have a broadly accepted title (officially, I’m a “Research Programmer”, but that’s more of a bureaucratic shortcut than an actual reflection of reality) doesn’t help. There’s no simple explanation of what it is…I do here.
It’s quite likely I’ll return to sysadmin ranks at some point, either professionally or by contributing to the Fedora Infrastructure group. Until then, I’ll keep tuned in with my LOPSA membership and going to LISA. Maybe I’m just a sysadmin-in-exile?