Dear readers: I need your help. I feel like I've lost touch with what new sysadmins go through. I learned system administration 20+ years ago. I can't imagine what new sysadmins go through now.
In particular, I'd like to hear from new sysadmins about what their "rite of passage" was that made them feel like a "real sysadmin".
When I was first learning system administration, there was a rite of passage called "setting up an email server". Everyone did it.
This was an important project because it touches on so many different aspects of system administration: DNS, SMTP, Sendmail configuration, POP3/IMAP4, setting up a DNS server, debugging clients, and so on and so on. A project like this might take weeks or months depending on what learning resources you have, if you have a mentor, and how many features you want to enable and experiment with.
Nowadays it is easier to do that: Binary packages and better defaults have eliminated most of the complexity. Starter documentation is plentiful, free, and accessible on the web. DNS domain registrars host the zone too, and make updates easy. Email addressing has become banal, mostly thanks to uniformity (and the end of UUCP).
More "nails in the coffin" for this rite of passage include the fact that ISPs now provide email service (this didn't used to be true), hosted email services like Google Apps have more features than most open source products, and ...oh yeah... email is passe.
What is the modern rite of passage for sysadmins? I want to know.
If you became a sysadmin in the last 10 years: What project or "rite of passage" made you feel like you had gone from "beginner" to being "a real sysadmin!"