My new responsibility as IT Admin - how can I deal with a situation outside my abilities?

Long story short, my department doesn't have an IT admin and it needs one badly. My boss has been attempting to get by having student developers attempt to administrate the network on the side. I have gotten some help from professional administrators for a short term solution, but feel this still isn't enough. I will only be working here for 1 more month, but I still feel like I need to communicate that I, along with the other student developers, don't feel prepared to take on the responsibilities of an IT Administrator. I'm not really sure what is appropriate at this point and need some guidance in telling my boss that I think the department needs its own IT Administrator.

How can I professionally tell my boss this news? Would it be something appropriate for the team meetings we have, or should I do it in private? Would my supervisor need to be present? Should I just tell him that I don't have the experience necessary to deal with the situation, or should I also mention the fact that I think IT Administration is something that students are not capable of handling alone?

How do I tell my boss I cannot be responsible for IT Administration?

UPDATE: My boss and I have had two one on one meetings. There were a spur of the moment thing and not consistent or regularly scheduled.

  • Are you asking how to tell your boss or how to convince him it is important enough to actually take action on?
    – enderland
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 13:34
  • 1
    A full-time sys admin is a huge expense in terms of an academic department's budget. You are obviously less than well trained and you are operating in an environment that doesn't provide you with any kind of support structure. Yet, a case could be made that a part-time student sys admin is adequate, as long as centralized IT takes charge of the student sys admin's training and the student sys admin can call for professional backup at any time. From what little I've heard about the part-time student sys admins at NYU, one of my alma maters, these part-time student sys admins are damn good. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 19:38
  • Admin the network? a properly designed network should not rely need much admin once it has been set up?
    – Pepone
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:34
  • A part-time student sys admin COULD be great. We had a guy before who specialized in IT and was really good at it. However, I was under the impression that I was hired in as a software developer and I'm not really that interested in Network Administration. I literally have no training in IT Administration and I'm basically forbidden by my boss to contact our department's IT Administrator, who charges our branch an hourly rate.
    – user17647
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 18:07

2 Answers 2


I will only be working here for 1 more month

I would recommend that you try to speak with your manager about this. Though he/she may not agree with you, I'm sure your manager would appreciate the level of proactive care you have, even if you're leaving soon.

If you have a supervisor in between you and the boss you want to speak to, it's good to keep them in the loop about whatever you talk about.


You have my sympathy. I know lots of people who love system administration, but it's an awful (and very stressful) job if you're pushed into it without the appropriate skill set. My first job out of college I was pushed into a temporary IT admin position as a computer scientist, and I was NOT happy about it. (Fortunately, it was only for a month, and it was acknowledged that I wasn't really qualified for the role, but they needed me to do my best anyhow.)

Rather than telling your boss that your department needs a full-time IT Administrator, which I'm guessing they can't afford if they haven't hired one yet, perhaps focus on suggesting that your department hire students with system administration expertise, if they expect their student employees to be able to fill that role.

It sounds like they have been hiring software developers and expecting them to also be IT Admins. Perhaps this stems from naivety that all "computer people" can handle administration as well as development.

Explain to your boss that you've felt under-qualified to take on the responsibilities that have fallen your way since the full-time administrator quit, and that having unqualified students taking on that very important role is a horrible idea for the department. Even if they want to stick with student employees, suggest that they may wish to consider hiring at least one student whose primary interest and skill set is in system administration rather than software development. That way, they will have someone with the correct skill set (and interest) to deal with issues as they inevitably arise.

Good luck!

  • You mean you don't expect developers to have at least the basics of admin skills?? At British Telecom every Solaris/Unix developer did the basic admin course.
    – Pepone
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 11:36
  • No, not every developer has basic admin skills. It doesn't sound like these students were offered any training, and honestly based on the linked question at the top, it sounds like the department needs someone with more than "basic" admin skills. I have "basic" admin skills, but I wouldn't want to be responsible for a breached authentication situation. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 15:38

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