Gen X and New Geeks

 I am a geek.  I have tattoos.  I wear sunglasses inside.  I prefer my laptop to people.  I am part of a growing culture which will quickly become the IT industry majority.  I am a New Geek.  My name is Drew Thiesen.  Mr. Ron Schenone has kindly allowed me to be a guest blogger on The Blade.

Allow me to tell you a little bit about myself.  I have: built computers from the ground up; designed, implemented, and configured networks; been an advocate for privacy; used social engineering techniques to exploit security holes.  I have worked for NPO’s, home offices, small business, and enterprise environments.  I have degrees in Network Security and Software Engineering.  One thing continues to remain constant.  IT professionals continue to get younger.  Gone are the days of network engineers with starched shirts, ties, and wing tip shoes.  The 21st century has ushered in the explosion of New Geeks, and new personalities.  So the question has evolved from “Do we hire such an eclectic person?” to “Will the new person fit with our current team?”

In my opinion, as long as you can do the job you have been hired to do, and do it well, it should not matter what you look like.  You could have tattoos on your face and twelve piercings in each ear; as long as you get your work done.  Sadly, this is not a very realistic view of the modern workforce, especially in the IT industry.  The IT Industry has 3 core elements.  The New Geeks, the GenX Geeks, and Management.  Obviously Management will always have the final say about what is acceptable workplace attire and what is not.  The GenX geeks have their own way of troubleshooting, documenting solutions, and are extremely good at doing things by the book, again and again.  The New Geeks will follow rules when forced, are hard working, and dedicated, but sometimes lacks the guidance to finish projects. 

How does Management integrate the GenX Geeks with the New Geeks?  There is no definite answer.  I would however, like to offer some suggestions to you, the readers.  Avoid segregation of IT resources.  Do away with cubicles and establish workbenches or create free-flow work areas which cause your IT resources to rub elbows.  Respect the individuality of both GenX Geeks and New Geeks.  If friction arises amongst your IT resources, attempt to resolve.  DO NOT, tell one group or another to try and change.  That will surely end badly.  Let your team socialize with each other on their own.  When assigning projects, make sure that no GenX or New Geek is always working with the same person.  Not only will this increase the flexibility of your team; but it will give the GenX Geeks a chance to show a tried and true way of completing something, while allowing the New Geeks to explore creative options under the guidance of GenX Geeks.

Finally, I would like to say this.  Do not judge a geek based on his or her looks, or tattoos, or piercings, or lifestyle.  Rather, judge us based on our experience, our work ethic, our personality.  Do not judge us by what school we went to, rather by what we can do in reality.  I look forward to writing more.  Please feel free to comment on anything I write.  If you would like to contact me about any of my pieces, please email me.  [email protected].  I promise to make every effort to respond to you as soon as possible.  I look forward to writing for this blog, your comments, and your emails.         

Thanks Drew. Great article.

As always comments are welcome.


Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • George

    I don’t think everything you said was absolutely true. New geeks aren’t nessesarily able to work hard, and at the same time, they don’t usually keep a job for longer than a year, which is a real problem because it usually takes a few months to get fully used to a system. The real problem with young people these days is that they aren’t loyal to any company. In one way, thats a good thing, but also it can be crippling to small businesses trying to hire people, but the only people who know about tech are the young ones, and they never stay around longer than a year.

  • Drew

    Great comment George! I am not by any means saying “all new geeks” are this or that. In any profession, you have employees who are not up to par. What I am trying to suggest however, is that in order to retain employees who show a strong work ethic, and dedicataion is to employ some of the techniques I described to make the transition as easy as possible, and hopefully keep your IT resources as one cohesive unit.

  • leftystrat

    Thanks for the blog, Drew.

    I am a geek too, although not sure where I’d fit in your scheme. I have long hair, so I felt your pain long ago. I have long maintained that people need to get past appearance and look for ability. But that’s not always the real world. We have to look a bit harder to find a good situation.

    Odds are not in our favor, especially given the economic situation of the past xx years.

    As for layout, put people together in a way that works. We’re all sandwiched into one room and we’re lucky to have that. Everyone else is out on The Floor, with no walls and no cubicles. But my employer is not the norm (or normal).

    My limited managerial experience is that adult workers (regardless of appearance) behave professionally and get their jobs done.

    Good luck!

  • DougCuk

    I’m sure it’s very geeky to start the post with:

    …………………………..etc

    but is it really supposed to be there?