Matt Schmitz/ December 20, 2016

This post is a continuation of last week’s “First, A Bit of Background


So once I had that magical CCNP certification, I finally felt like I needed to move on. I had gained as much experience from that first job as I thought I would, which meant that I needed to start looking. I got some help from a co-worker of mine at the time, who gave me some wonderful resume tips (which I will share in a future post). Two months and a handful of interviews later, and I found myself jumping on a contract-to-hire position for a local government organization.

The three and a half years spent with this organization taught me so much. I had a great boss, to whom I owe many personal improvements that helped me get where I am today. I walked into the place in a role that was technically supposed to be a Junior Systems Administrator, but the position was much more widely focused than that. I did everything and anything, including managing an Avaya phone system, desktop support, networking, Windows administration, and even a bit of VMware ESX. Obviously, I began to lean more and more toward the networking side of the house, as the team was relatively well split in terms of specializations. One guy loved virtualization and storage, another loved application support, and I owned all things networking.

Another thing this job brought me was the push I needed to go back to school. The organization didn’t like to hire people without a college degree, but I managed to make it in under a very rare set of circumstances. Unfortunately, that meant that I was constantly told that I really need to go back to school and get a degree. After a short while, I gave in and picked up a four-year online degree program in Network Security.

This place was my first real experience in actually owning a network. Having complete control and being able to call it my own. I spent the first couple of months doing exploratory research – what did we have running and how was it configured. Then I built a list of recommendations for things I thought needed to be improved. After a few years, I had replaced almost every device (many were end of life) and made the network significantly more secure and resilient. I had many great learning opportunities in managing my own time and building project plans. I designed network upgrades and made detailed plans to make it all work – and it did, surprisingly.

While that job was an absolutely amazing experience for me in terms of personal and career growth, I eventually reached a point where those things slowed down. Soon the negative aspects of the job were starting to outweigh the positives, and so I began my job search once more. A friend of mine, who I had previously worked with at the consulting company, ended up referring me to a position with a company he worked for. The position was a Network Administrator for a local cloud Software as a Service provider.

I didn’t know it when I took the job, but I ended up walking into an environment where I had the most experience on the team. For having several datacenters around the world, the network architecture left much to be desired – A lot of designs built upon the need of the moment and not the future. At the time of this writing, I’m still with this company – and I’ve already gained quite a different set of skill and experiences: Being the senior team member, designing scalable network architecture, and learning the ability to lead others.

I’m going to stop here with my story for now – but hopefully this provides a bit of context around where my experiences and insight have come from. I have a lot of future post ideas which will build upon everything that I have learned over the past ten years.

Thanks for reading!

About Matt Schmitz

Herding packets since 2007. Perpetually trying to automate myself out of a job. I believe that all problems can be solved by implementing more IPv6. Disclaimer: All opinions posted here are my own, and do not represent any vendor or current/former employer.

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