Nerd Journey 034: Jimmy Tassin – Career Path

Welcome to episode 34 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 career paths in the first part of our discussion with Jimmy Tassin.

Original Recording Date: 04-16-2019

Topics – Part 1 of Our Discussion with Jimmy Tassin

  • Nick and John know Jimmy through the Spiceworks community, and Nick had the opportunity to meet Jimmy in person at Spiceworld.
  • Jimmy is currently the IT Director for a bank near St. Louis and has been with the company for about 5 years.
    • His focus is mostly on security, reporting, and keeping management happy.

3:14 – Career History

  • Jimmy got into computers in middle school when Macs started showing up in classrooms.
    • The librarian noticed he was savvy on the computer and solicited Jimmy’s help with computer support.
  • Jimmy started taking computer classes in high school and ended up joining the Navy (worked with radar systems and combat control).
  • After that he went to college and majored in computer science.
    • In high school he wanted to be a video game developer and at one point got into DigiPen Academy.
    • He got a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 4 years.
    • Jimmy came to the realization in college that programming was not for him.
      • The life of a developer wasn’t what he had originally thought.
      • To Jimmy, programming was solving a puzzle and very enjoyable. But doing this 8-10 hours per day seemed like a road to burnout.
  • He worked tier 1 / tier 2 help desk for a health group while going to school.
    • Listen to his interview story and the perception of being "dressed up." Has this ever happened to you?
      • John gets on the soap box about company culture and appropriate dress. See Episode 9 for more how to dress for an interview.
    • After a year, Jimmy switched to night classes and transitioned to full time with this employer.
      • His approach to the role was to learn everything he could while supporting a user base of 2500 people.
        • See Episode 31 on scaling for a new endeavor.
        • Jimmy gives some great advice on making the jump from hobbyist to professional.
      • Jimmy’s colleagues had experience he could draw from while he gained experience. Google was also a great source of knowledge.
      • Many people in a help desk role got there because they enjoy helping people, but this role affords a great deal of problem solving opportunities.
      • The career path within the organization was unstructured.
      • At one point Jimmy took on PBX administration with a Mitel system (because he was thrown into it by the boss) and later learned VOIP technologies on a Cisco system.
      • He was also responsible for all audio visual support for staff training meetings.
        • Jimmy volunteered to help with this effort and even led some staff training.
      • Jimmy wanted to learn networking, which seemed like the next logical step, but his boss did not see the value since they had a service provider handling it.
      • At this point he decided to move on to a new employer (a credit union). His ambition was greater than the role could provide.
  • Jimmy landed a new role at a credit union as a systems administrator.
    • He knew the title he was looking to land (systems / network administrator), making it very clear to this employer that he wanted to learn networking.
    • The job search was pretty short.
    • Despite not having experience in the banking industry, his relatable experience from healthcare (a regulated industry) was seen as valuable by this new employee.
    • This environment was much smaller than the last one, including changes to policies and procedures.
    • On Jimmy’s first day, his manager was not at the office, but he had an interesting experience just getting to the point where he could use a computer.
    • Jimmy supported a number of technologies such as Active Directory and was given the chance to build an entirely new server infrastructure.
      • Check out the story he posted on Spiceworks about it.

36:32 – Into the Spiceworks Community

  • Jimmy found community on Spiceworks and is still very active there.
    • It’s a forum of IT pros of different backgrounds and experiences and a place to ask questions.
  • The credit union was using Spiceworks’ software to run their help desk ticketing system and inventory.
    • He realized a little later there was a community aspect as well and started asking questions.
    • Jimmy also decided to share his experiences with the community.
  • Why did Jimmy choose not to pursue certifications after tackling some of his big projects?
  • Jimmy was the only one at his employer participating in the Spiceworks community.
    • Jimmy also started attending SpiceCorps meetings in his area to network with others in the technology space, but his co-workers did not attend.
  • At a certain point, Jimmy transitioned from asking questions to answering questions in the community.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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