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Leon Nunes
Leon Nunes

Posted on • Updated on

Breaking out of Tech Support and diving into DevOps.

To be very honest, I'm pretty unsure, about writing about this here.

I joined Techsupport back in 2018, straight out of college, because that was the only path I knew about, you know the general path, Techsupport to Helpdesk to Sysadmin, at that time I didn't know what I wanted.

I did a lot of extra work other than my own job, my primary role was to assist customers with cPanel/Plesk servers, shared hosting windows servers and private Linux servers and Email(yes I can hear the ah shit). Apart from this I wrote a log parser to pretty print postfix+dovecot logs, built webhook bots, played with Salesforce API's did a whole bunch of things

Fast forward to 2021, I was still in techsupport just a different level, we used to take chats, do tickets and take calls back in 2018, now I had chats and tickets with added responsibility, private Linux servers and managed servers(Clients can be a real pain), that's when I decided it's time to move on, little did I know it wouldn't be that easy...

Tech is vast, Tech is ever changing, my job was mostly assisting customers, it was never managing servers(Although if you count private servers and managed servers it probably was) I figured out bash, I knew python, I dabbled with Golang, but my goal was never a programmer it was always a Linux System admin. Thing is that role didn't exist at least the way I knew it to be.

And I'll be honest people in Tech support are always looked down upon. I struggled for a good seven months before I could even land a role.

What did I do in those seven months?

  1. Reached out to people in the same field
  2. Sent cold emails to refer me to someone
  3. Broke down almost every other week
  4. Imposter Syndrome got too loud
  5. Studied, gave interviews, failed, got ghosted
  6. Go to Point 1 (Oh yeah I know what recursion is :p )

What did I take away from this

  • I'm very patient (That's a shocker truth be told)
  • I'm also very stubborn.
  • Nothing works without referrals
  • You've got to try everything and anything(Senku used to say this)
  • Techsupport Hell is real.

So what did I do in these seven months?

If you're a beginner, stop right here, I know DevOps is all pretty and trendy right now, but don't miss out on the essential stuff, Linux Admin Skills, Linux Command line, Debugging applications, running web servers, playing around with debuggers, learning what linux namespaces are, using a terminal editor, these are important too.

In the beginning I made a lot of mistakes, applied for one job, took one interview at a time, I lost a lot of time.
Then I asked around, on Discord Servers, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram. I posted around social media, I asked my friends to retweet it, share it cause I didn't have that kind of exposure.

Then I started documenting, I made an excel sheet(I still don't know how to organize the data, heh). In my free time, I searched for job boards, started searching for the roles I wanted, applied got no results.

I was really frustrated, time just went by, then I started sending messages on LinkedIn, I found people, I used to send them things like, "Hey Hi, hope everything is good on your end, I was wondering if you could refer me to X, in case you have a referral program", or, "Hey Hi, hope everything is good on your end, I was wondering if you could help me understand what DevOps is". I spoke to ex-colleagues(I'm someone who gets tired after speaking to one soul). I was tired. I applied to approximately 90 Companies over the globe.

All this is cool, but what about the Tech?

(Yes I hear you, even my internal voice, yelling, nobody cares they just want to know what did you do.)

Truth be told it has been a blur. I remember joining a Discord server(Still part of it) Hanging out there with folks, I had nobody who could relate, but online? Online everyone seems relatable. I got a few referrals out there, but no dice(Literally, Dice doesn't work in india), I used to listen to speakers in Twitter spaces, podcasts on how to improve, the whole shebang(#!/DoEverything/LearnAnything)

If I had to start over, I would head over to the DevOps roadmap start from there, Certifications and all are good if you like spending money on items that expire after 2 years(Yes even IELTS/TOEFL are the same). I started doing projects that consisted of me building sample projects in interviews.

Interviews suck, they give you HackerRank challenges and expect you to cook up code within 30 minutes. Take-away projects are a bit sane, plus you can use them on your resume too.
I never studied everything and anything, I didn't have the time to do so, I picked AWS since that had more jobs, I picked Ansible because I was interested in it, I still haven't done more than basic automation stuff in it. Then I found out about CI/CD, and of course, there were a lot of tools out there. I picked Gitlab CI/CD because many companies were already hooked onto it.

If you want projects, here take them

  • Write an small application to pull stuff from any API, Containerize it(Dockerize isn't a word duh!) it and deploy it to a cloud provider of your choice. Now to spice things up, make a Pipeline, every change made to the code on a certain branch should trigger the pipeline to deploy and rebuild the application.

Wanna go the extra mile? Add a LoadBalancer, use Kubernetes/ECS rather than EC2, Add Cloudfront, store your frontend in S3 or any object storage.

Oh! I totally forgot!? Use the Console Once, understand what is needed and then use Terraform or any Infrastructure as code tool(AWS CDK, API's, CLI, Ansible).

And this itself will give you a touch of a lot of things. I'd say getting an interview is harder than finishing a project(Why? Because you're a techsupport person)

Websites I used to job hunt on.

  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Discord

Want to get started with Linux commands?

  • Click here
  • Read the Linux manual here
  • Understand why automation is needed, pick up a simple book or project.

Additional Resources that may help you

Becoming a DevOps engineer in 6 months By Spacelift.
This is a great article that can help you structure your learning, it may take less than or more than 6 months depending on how much you're able to grasp.

This post is all over the place, just like my mind, sorry about that, Did I ever get a job?(I wouldn't be writing this), well Yes, as of this month I've been working with DevOps ideologies/tools/techniques for about 2 months. What do we do? We build/deploy infra projects.

My 5 cents, take the interview just to get knowledge, make time for it, be patient.

In case you ever need help always feel free to reach out here or on twitter @MediocreDevops

If you've read all of this, thanks for taking the time.

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