Nerd Journey 022: Nick’s First Year at VMware Part 2

Welcome to episode 22 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode, we discuss Nick’s 1 Year Check-in at VMware, Part 2.

Original Recording Date: 2019-1-19

Topics – Nick’s 1 Year Check-in at VMware, Part 2, John’s Questions

4:04 Extracurricular activities

  • How has the new role affected the frequency of and type of engagement in community groups?
    • Nick is still the co-leader of the DFW SpiceCorps, a group that has no affiliation with VMware.
    • Attending VMUGs when possible
      • Presented on vSAN in October 2018 in Dallas (video is here)
  • Posting in Spiceworks and MangoLassi when possible

6:55 Transitioning from IT operations to Sales

  • Nick was nervous about losing technical skills coming into the role.
  • There are some aspects of IT operations he misses.
  • Meeting with and learning from customers is fun!
  • Are you technical enough? It depends.
  • Tailoring the technical level of the conversation to the audience is very important.
  • How has carrying a quota affected Nick’s honest opinion? You decide.

13:44 Company culture check

  • In past roles…
    • Most folks in same department in same office
    • Worked with folks in other offices and saw them now and then
  • Current Role
    • First conversations with people (everyone but manager) were via phone / e-mail / chat
    • Face-to-face interaction creates a deeper rapport with co-workers
    • John’s aside on Matrix organizations
    • Frequent communication is important when working with remote peers
    • Some people may work better when in a face-to-face environment

18:19 Training Pace

  • Nick’s previous employer had a learning platform Lesson.ly, but it was not as regimented as the quarterly training plans.
  • Some of the training must be done on your own to ensure effectiveness.
  • Online communities can help you stay relevant as can learning from other customers.

20:44 Management

  • Nick wasn’t sure what to expect here and had to get past the “walking into the principal’s office” feeling when a manager calls unexpectedly.
  • The management style is different than it was when Nick was in an operations role.
  • Managers can give feedback on things you don’t notice.
  • John describes a manager as someone to guide you on your journey.
  • This was Nick’s first time to work for a manager in a different city. Consistent 1-1s are key.
  • Still adjusting to the flexibility

25:02 Skills Nick Wishes He Had Coming into the Role

  • Networking – not a routing and switching guy (despite the NetworkNerd community name).
  • Containers – need to be deeper on this
  • Presentations – do more of them, continue
  • Had to ramp on industry-specific regulations
  • Is John moonlighting as a developer?
  • John cites presentation skills as something that needs to be well practiced. You will be bad at it when you start.
  • Gearing the presentation for a specific audience is much like education. The ability to pivot at any given moment is something to master.

31:09 Getting Hired was not the First Time Nick Applied at VMware

  • Nick didn’t really know what a SE was for a long time or that it was a potential career path for someone in IT operations.
  • Nick cites the Geek Whisperers episodes about the Silicon Valley VMUG (listen to this episode first followed by this episode). Knowing the types of roles that exist as a logical next step from where you are is a helpful first step.
  • Nick’s VMware experience was extremely limited when he applied in 2016. His experience grew considerably throughout 2017 after a job change at the end of 2016. Using more of the technology, blogging, and speaking on the technology helped to build a body of work someone else could use to evaluate Nick’s experience more than what is merely on a resume.

35:46 Recommendations for others

  • Don’t sell yourself short. See what jobs exist.
  • Consider your relatable experience.
  • Start building a body of work today. Use online / in-person communities to help you get there, and include these on your resume.
  • There is no chance to get a job to which you have not applied. Reach out to peers who do the job you think you want to get their feedback on whether you are qualified.
  • John beats Nick to the punch again!
  • Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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