How To Improve Your IT Networking Skills
By: Aimee Claire
Over past few years, there’s been a lot of fuss about computer networking and there’s an old saying that information is power. Apply that principle to the world of business and information can also be money. Because IT networking plays such a critical role in many businesses, these skills have been proven extremely valuable.
In order to understand why IT networking is so valuable, it is first necessary to understand what it actually entails. In the simplest terms, networking is the practice of linking two or more computers or other computing devices together in order to share data and function. Networks are built with a combination of computer software and hardware. In essence, a network could be as small as a couple of computers or span multiple locations, hundreds of miles apart.
Business networks are usually built and maintained by specialized IT engineers. Communication, data storage and security requirements vary, depending on the specific business’ needs, but these are basic components of what IT specialists must bear in mind. A business network must have the speed, security, and capability to keep the company running smoothly, especially in today’s era of internet and intranet dependence. Anyone involved in the creation and maintenance of a business network must have a broad grasp of IT and its role within the commercial environment. This means that individuals must be able to reconcile the basics of old networking and security with the latest technologies.
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Improving one’s IT networking skills
Today, there is a high demand for individuals with IT networking skills, but those with advanced experience or a certification are even more attractive to prospective employers. The network administrator manages both the physical and virtual aspects of a company’s computer network and will play an integral role in the smooth operation of the organization as a whole. Dependable, practical and experienced individuals are always preferred and well compensated.
Because IT skills are so highly coveted by employers, there has been an explosion in the number of networking certifications available for IT professionals. There are night courses to hone existing skills and entire college curriculums; however, many individuals are now turning to online IT degree programs in which networking skills are taught, refreshed, and certified. People who are already employed as IT professionals often don’t need to cut into their employer’s time, since online courses are so flexible.
Online IT courses often focus on how to configure and maintain computer networks and cover hardware and software systems, as well as troubleshooting common issues, analyzing problems and ensuring optimum efficiency for all system users. Such courses also discuss how to manage users, share resources across the network and also deal with routers and switches in LANS, WANS and wireless network environments.
Network administrators do more than simply setting up individual users and accessing drives on servers. They also work with webmasters to manage company internets and intranets, ensure the safety of sensitive data and back-up company files on a regular basis. To be considered a true network administrator, Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) certification is required and can be obtained through a number of online courses. This certification should be renewed every three years.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.