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Interview Week: Heather Asks a Question About Dev Ops

Published 11/20/2017

In today's episode, we kick off interview week by talking about Heather's question about moving into devops from her current position.

Check out the Beyond Bootcamp Interview Week Prep Guide at https://beyondbootcamp.io now!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
How can you jump from one career path to another? More specifically for today's episode, how would you jump from being a developer to, for example, being a DevOps engineer? That's what we're talking about in today's episode, but really what we're going to be talking about isn't so specific to DevOps or jumping to a development career, or maybe you're coming from design to development, for example. Instead, we're going to be talking about kind of this psychology of that switch and how you can set yourself up to make a transition like that. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. You're listening to Developer Tea. My goal is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose and do better work so that they can have a positive impact on the people they influence. If you are a driven developer, then that's why you're listening to this show. You want to become better at what you do, not just so you can make more money and not just so you can feel better about your day, but rather because you care about the people around you, you care about the work you do, you know it has an impact on the people you have influence over. And even if the people you have influence over is limited to just you and your coworkers, that influence is significant. Today's episode is a part of interview week. This is interview week on Developer Tea. And I'm really excited about this because it's something I'm passionate about preparing for interviews or preparing for job transitions more specifically, you know, dealing with trying to accomplish a new position in your career. This is so important. And really it's something that you're always going to be doing. Whether you're actually changing your job position or not, you know, for example, you may change your title within the same company. You may not actually be interviewed for that, but all the same concepts apply. And that's what we're talking about in today's episode. We don't have a sponsor today, but I do want to mention Beyond Bootcamp, the interview week prep guide. This is something I created. It's actually a full book. It's over 100 pages long. And it's a bunch of exercises. If you like Developer Tea, you're going to love this guide. It's over 100 pages long. It's totally free. Head over to beyondbootcamp.io to grab that book. There's also a workbook there, so don't forget to grab that as well. But this book is going to help prepare you for an interview. So it's particularly appropriate that appropriate this week for Beyond Bootcamp to kind of be brought to the forefront. So hopefully you will go and check that out. And today's episode, by the way, is a question from listener Heather. Heather wrote in and she has this interesting question about switching careers. She says, hi, I have a question about career choices. For over two years, I've been a web developer. However, a couple of months ago, I switched to more of a DevOps role with the company I work for. I found I like the DevOps work better than the web development. I've been considering finding a new job for the past year or so for commute and family reasons. I'd like to find a DevOps job, but with only a couple of months of DevOps experience, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do that. I'm hesitant in my job search because I have more experience in web development and will be able to find a better job. For example, my salary and seniority will be higher if I applied for those positions, but I'd rather do DevOps. I worry that finding a DevOps position will be difficult without years of DevOps experience. How would one best make this career jump? My resume is mostly web development and not DevOps, and I'm afraid I'll be overlooked because of that. I know I can continue in my current position at my current company for another year or so, but that's not ideal for my current life situation. Thanks, Heather. First of all, Heather, thank you so much for writing in, taking this step of trying to get advice from other people, reaching out to me, reaching out to your coworkers, reaching out to friends, family, anybody that you can take input from that may help shape your perspective. I have a few key thoughts for you here on this question, but I want you to take a moment and recognize the fact that you are currently in a DevOps position. Now, I'm not telling you to recognize this so that you don't leave your job, but instead to affirm the reality that you, in somebody's perspective, you were qualified and ready to be a DevOps engineer. This is a very important reality. The moment that you have that title on your resume, that shows proof that someone is willing to back that decision with money. In other words, your employer today was willing to put you in that position and confidently put you in that position and pay you to do it. So I want to start by increasing your confidence that you are capable because it's very easy to believe that just because you don't have years of experience, that you're not capable of doing something. Of course, experience is important. Don't hear me wrong here. The more experience you have, obviously, the smoother this transition would go. But there's a few realities that make your situation not only tenable, not only able to be dealt with, but perhaps even preferable to someone who has no DevOps experience. For example, let's say you're the first DevOps hire for a company. They're scaling up. It's a brand new startup and they have three or four developers and they need to hire a DevOps engineer. Well, someone who can talk with the developers who can speak their language, who can translate from DevOps to web development. Those communication skills are going to be absolutely critical to the success of that role because they don't have that experience already on their team. They are going to need kind of the bridge between those two. So my first piece of advice for you, Heather, and for everyone watching is to recognize the value of your position, not just the value of your title or your current company, but rather the value of your situation. For you, Heather, the fact that you have a background as a developer can be used as an accelerator for your career. It can be used to accelerate you into a position that a pure DevOps engineer wouldn't be qualified for. And it's important that you pitch this value when you go in for an interview. It's important that you pitch the value even in your resume. So for example, Heather, you may write your resume in a way that says, I am the bridge between the developer and the DevOps. I will operate as the translator so that the developers can get what they need and the DevOps side of things is secure. It's performant. A designer who has only been a developer for a few months can do the same thing. They can bring to the table the fact that they have a fluency in design language. But even outside of the industry, and this is where it gets really interesting, you can actually leverage your experience in pretty much any area to provide value from that experience. And the important thing is how you frame your experience and how that experience props up what you do. If you have experience as an artist or let's say you have experience as a construction manager, well, the things that you learn on your job as a construction manager can absolutely be applied in new and exciting ways to software development. The reality is that there are principles in every kind of job on every career path. There are ways of working that have some kind of application to pretty much every other path. I don't want to overstate this, but as a developer, if you have a background in something else or if you're trying to go like Heather is from developer to a DevOps job or even from developer to designer, you can leverage your experience as a positive thing rather than saying it's a limiting factor. So Heather, rather than focusing on your lack of experience as a DevOps engineer, you can focus on the facts that being a developer gives you a new and exciting perspective on DevOps and it allows you to work better with developers and understand their requests. I have one more piece of advice for you Heather and that is to consider the side door approach. That's what I'm going to call this for the sake of today's conversation, the side door approach and that is to get into a company that you want to work for, perhaps it makes sense to accept a development job while also explaining that your goal is to become a DevOps engineer. Perhaps it makes sense to accept a hybrid role where you do 20% DevOps and 80% web development. It may make sense for you to accept a position that allows you to take advantage on a day-to-day basis of your existing kind of developed skill set as a developer and transition into a DevOps role. Again, thinking in that startup phase mentality, a startup is going to be much more likely to appreciate the skills of a developer that is versed not only in web development but also DevOps. If a startup doesn't have the money, for example, to dedicate entirely to a DevOps engineer, then perhaps you can join that team as a web engineer, a web developer and translate some of that energy towards DevOps as the company scales. Perhaps the overarching piece of advice that I have for you Heather and anyone else who is looking to make a transition into a new career position is to not look at anything as black and white. Don't look at your experience as black and white. Don't look at the title as black and white. Don't look at your options with various companies where you're going to live. Don't look at any of these things as black and white but rather as a sliding scale, a gradient scale that changes in certain aspects along the way. Your skills are not black and white. You don't have a switch that suddenly turns on the DevOps skill set. That's not going to happen. Instead what you have is a variety of skills, a variety of experience, a background, a personality, character. You have your own personal motivations. You have the motivations of a company. There's so many factors to take into account. There's a lot of variables that you can play with the levers on. For example, let's say that your ultimate goal is to be a DevOps engineer. You have that job. That's not your only goal. Your ultimate goal has to be contextualized with the rest of the things that you're not willing to compromise on. For example, are you more willing to move and take a web engineer position, a web developer position, or would you rather stay and keep the DevOps position? That's a question that will lead you to understand your own motivations, your own boundaries where you are going to draw the line. It's very important to know where you're going to draw the line so that you can adjust those levers as you go along. In other words, you may find an excellent position as a hybrid web developer and DevOps engineer. That may be a perfect position for you, but it may be $10,000 less than what you expected. Is that tenable? Is that something that you're willing to deal with? Is that a compromise that you're willing to make? Is that within your boundaries? It's important to understand and to write this stuff down. Take some time. Write down your ideal situation. Write down the numbers, the location, the job description, the responsibilities, even the company name, or maybe there's a couple of companies that you would like to work for. Write all of that stuff down and then write down the absolute best case scenario in all of that, the top end of the range that you're looking for, and then the bottom end of the range, the very least that you want to pursue. Those are your boundaries and then you can start looking at how can I accomplish this? Outside of those boundaries, consider what titles are you willing to take on? What level of salary are you willing to take on? How far away are you willing to live? Where is that epicenter location-wise where you're willing to live? Are you willing to do remote work? Are you willing to travel two or three days a week? There's a lot of questions that you can answer that will open up your options and more importantly, it'll give you a more defined target. There I hope this has been helpful. I went on a little bit longer than I expected to with this and gave a little bit more advice. Hopefully it was helpful to you. I encourage you and other developers who are considering going into a new career step and really every developer who's listening to the show, you can probably gain something from this interview prep guide. You don't have to read every single part of it and it's totally free. If it only makes you 1% better as a developer, then isn't it worth it to download it and take a look at it? I think so. Head over to Beyond Boot Camp.io to download the Interview Week Prep Guide today. Thank you so much for listening. Heather, thank you so much for your question. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. I hope it's valuable to you. I hope it's encouraging to you. I hope you approached this job situation with a sense of calm, a piece of mind, excitement and motivation for the future. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. And one last thing, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use if you enjoyed today's episode especially because there's going to be more content just like this on future episodes of Developer Tea. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.