A common discussion in the Packet Pushers Forums and on the #packetpushers IRC channel is questions about career development, focus and doing a good job. These are always good discussions so Greg invited Giulio Chiappini – @its_gcand Jon Garrison – @jpwgarrison to bring their questions & Greg’s does his best to give a perspective, opinions and ideas on worklife as a network engineer.
As someone once said, Free Sound Advice given here – 95% Sound, 5% Free and 0% advice. You should certainly make your own path and maybe my suggestions are helpful, maybe your situation is different.
Topic: Being a beginner in the VAR space, to me, means that i get thrown into the fire a lot. Every week means facing a new project, often on completely different technologies (from UC/Voip to Routing and VPNs in bandwidth-constrained SMBs). I enjoy the challenge immensely but how do you know when you’re being hungry for growth and when you’re being irresponsible, accepting duties that you will likely not be able to accomplish? Is there a golden rule for the balance between personal growth (which sometimes means risking something that is not yours, such as the customer time and money) and your customer’s interests?
Topic: As a first year network engineer in a large retail org selecting vendors can be challenging- too often its more than just technical. Being new to the field, I don’t have the Cisco neck tattoo some of my peers have, and wish we could be a bit more agnostic. Other pressures from management, pushy salesmen, etc make it challenging to make choices efficiently. [Currently have a project to replace our IP address management tool- IPPLAN to something more robust that will support auto-provisioning of servers- which some of my peers don’t believe exists in the real world]
Topic: Sub-contracting. I worked on projects with up to five levels of subcontracting (we were the lowest level, doing the actual work). Do Technical people in the field have any power over this trend? Often this pattern leads to low quality in the delivered work, poor communication with the final customer and obscure restrictions, imposed by the bureaucracy of 3 to 5 different IT companies in between.
Topic: Re: outsourcing, we are well aware that our bosses would not mind taking some FTEs off the books. We recently outsourced up/down monitoring (or at least PAID for it, it doesn’t quite work yet…) I am constantly looking to optimize my learning and grabbing projects I hope will add value to the business long term- like application performance optimization. How do I get from changing VLANs on user ports and making port channels to architect, etc.
Topic: working in the SMB space, i often get asked to dabble in the Helpdesk and System Engineering area. (That ESXi host is not doing backups, we need to implement a mass-deployment system for a Microsoft shop etc.) Do i need to be overly selective of these kind of experiences or is it a good idea to grab more knowledge wherever it’s been offered?