General IT skills that helps my work

What is this about

I've been working in IT for 5 years now, having no formal education in the field, now I have a Bachelors degree but in Japanese/Linguistics, so it's kind of by coincidence and that I have used Linux as a hobby that I got into this.

Short story about how I got into IT

So I moved to a country where I know nobody, and where my education really didn't help me much. And by pure coincidence I was taken in to an interview by the company where I've now been working for 5 years. Being pretty fresh knowing basically no SQL nor much other of what I actually now do every day.

So nervous and sweating I get in to it, and start working through installing an ubuntu system from a system image through a chroot (Thank you arch-linux for preparing me for something like that), also working through other tests they had set up for me, basically most of the things I figured out through being curious and just trying things out. And miraculously they took me in instead of a guy with actual experience in the field since I was flexible and willing to learn.

1. Learn how to read error messages/logs.

This is actually the thing that I almost do the most at work, faced with a problem it seems like people don't know how to read error-messages, they get scared when the box with a warning pops up, and it seems like they just shut down, 80% of cases I have the error says clearly what to do, but people see the box and get scared. Or in other cases it's just an error message that is vague, knowing how to read error messages and get to the kernel of what is wrong is one important part of being able to fix things.

2. Know how to search for a solution to your problem.

The next step after kind of having figured out what is wrong is to figure out how to solve it, and more often than not it's going to be something you have seen before so that you can solve it. But often you'll have to search, and having skills in knowing how to search, evaluating if the site you're finding actually have the thing you're looking for, and getting adept at reading pages finding the information you're after are very important skills to have

3. Try stuff out.

Scary stuff I know, but usually you have a vague idea about what can be dangerous or not, most things you do can be undone, and trying out stuff often leads to something that works, well on the other side, if you don't try something out you have no idea if it is the right solution, so trying out even something silly often helps, you can't know that it doesn't work before you have tried it.

4. Be willing to learn.

It's important to know what you don't know, so that you know when to search for help, and it's also important to be willing to learn new things, I don't think there is a single day at work where I don't learn something new.

5. Keep (mental) note about what you have seen.

Often things you have done before will be the solution to your current problem, or at least be something close to it, something that you did half a year ago might be the solution (or the cause) of the problem you have today, and having either a note of what you have done, or at least having a vague memory of how you did it the last time, will help you in the future.

6. When in doubt turn it off and on again.

As silly as it is, this so often helps, it's stupid that this still is the solution to so many things, but it does. Or at least it buys you some minutes of time to let your subconcious work on coming up with some bright, or silly idea.

7. Never throw stuff away.

I have 100s of pages of different SQL queries I've written saved away to be used as reference, or to be bent into solving this next question I've gotten, it lets me do stuff faster, and struggle less, I always forget how this or the other thing works, and having something I've done myself previously and that I know works is so helpful.