I found Just IT on the internet. I was looking at IT training and chose Just IT because the course was more of a operating system and software based rather than being hardware based only.
Apart from fixing issues with my own computer and installing software, I was certainly not that technical. I have always worked on my own cars and motorbikes so I have quite a technical mind. When I was on the course, I felt everyone else knew more than me, but it wasn’t a massive disadvantage because you didn’t need much experience beforehand to do well on the course. I had the soft skills such as interpersonal and communication, which are very important to help you find your first job.
My first role was 1st Line Support at Fujitsu Siemens. I was there for six weeks call logging until I moved onto another role.
In my current role as Lead DevOps Engineer, I am responsible for the full IT stack. This starts with building the infrastructure in the Data Centre. This includes networking with the load balancers, VPN connections and switching. I rack out and build all the servers and install Linux. The installation is all automated using kickstart and puppet. We also use Ansible for automation; the installation of applications on the servers. Some of my work is project based as I work in a company that has a very dynamic market. This means building the technology to support the changes of business directions. For example, we are now building an Elasticsearch stack. This involves learning about all the components of the elastic stack and then building all infrastructure, automation and applications before handing it over to the developers.
I constantly trained and studied to enhance my skillset. When I was working night shifts in one of my roles, I studied for my Redhat certifications. This combined with other areas of my knowledge opened the doors to get into DevOps. I was lucky as a friend of mine had moved onto a new company and contacted me to let me know of the role. I applied and I was successful – it really showed me how connections and networking with people open doors.
I enjoy the different challenges and problems to solve. For example, using a new product like Elasticsearch. Having to find out how it works, how different components work with it and how to make them work together. There is a planning process such as building the test environment and then the production environment. You are always learning new things and how to do them in the best possible way.
The biggest challenge is getting your foot in the door. I think every organisation wants experienced people, but not many organisations want to train them to become experienced. I was much older than most of the people and that created a certain barrier, but you’ve just got to get experience on your CV. I got offered a work placement and couldn’t do it, but I would strongly recommend it to get experience behind you. You need to build your experience and skills.
Just try to network with the right people. This is very important because when jobs come up you want to be the first person to come to their minds as a natural fit. It’s one of the big take outs I have, you’re trying to get into a new career, but even when you get your foot in the door, it’s a constant fight. You have got to think about your next steps and keep pushing yourself to grow – this is so you don’t end up in a dead-end role.
I don’t know – I may go back into management again. I enjoyed it previously, but wanted to become a more experienced engineer. Whenever, I have thought of a 5 year plan, I have always ended up somewhere different. However, you always need to know what the next job role is going to be. You must be careful and plan your career and be focused on where you want to go. I think for my next role I will keep contracting, I know what skills I want to focus on to get my next role and I will keep on training so that my skill set is current and in demand.
It’s a great career and I would highly recommend it. However, even after you get your first role, it’s the beginning and not the end. You must keep spending your time developing your skills and growing. 1st Line Support is just the beginning of a job, you must develop your skill set because that is what sets you apart and you have to be constantly pushing to become 2nd/3rd Line. When I worked at Savvis, I made sure the Networking guys knew I was studying my CCNA course. Whenever I had a problem at my home lab, I’d always ask them for help and it showed them I was interested in networking. When I was working for Nuance, I offered my free time to work with the engineers at the data centre and got promoted a few months later. The constant push opens the doors to many opportunities.