In this post I’ll introduce an important part of this project which is aimed to fill some gap about how to enter the network engineering field as a rockstar 🙂
If your dream is to become a Network Engineer in companies like Google or Facebook, I think you’ll find this series quite interesting: everyone please welcome Project:Them, a series of interviews to interns, ex-interns or full-time workers who are somehow involved into designing and maintaining networks.
Our first guest is Jakub Mlynarczyk (LinkedIn profile), a young and brilliant engineer, who interned at Google several times, as well as one of the kindest person I’ve ever met. I’ve already learnt a lot from his experience and advice and I’m sure you’ll gain some benefit from this interview as well. So, let’s start!
Gabriele: Hi Jakub and thanks for joining us 🙂 let’s start with a brief introduction of yourself: Who are you? Where are you from? How old are you?
Jakub: Hello everyone. My name is Jakub Młynarczyk. I was born back in 1993, in Poznan, Poland. Today I’m 22 (surprise!), enjoyed 3 internships at Google (over 1.5 year) and now I’m preparing for my next trip (Sydney, Australia), to work as a full-time Network Engineer.
G: What about your college? What did you study?
J: In 2012, I have started the BSc in Electronics and Telecommunications. First year was exactly an opposite of what I have expected. Every course was theoretical, without useful practical implementation. Countless hours and nights spent on maths and physics, were just far away from my expectations. After finishing the first year I requested one year break for an internship (more in upcoming sections). In 2014, I did not return to study at Poznan University of Technology (PUT). Instead of PUT, I have workout out something new (often called by friend as super crazy initiative) – Bachelor of Technology Computing Studies degree at Royal Melbourne University of Technology (RMIT). At the time of writing (July, 2015), I had 3 courses left to finish the degree. The decision to change the university caused many problem. Some people thought that I have already completed one degree and now I’m starting another one, where others assumed that I’m just too spoiled to return to student life after interning at Google for so long. Regardless of any opinion, I’m serious about my degree and it is my top priority goal to sign up for a part-time MSc. PhD degree is a dream, but an interesting career progression for future.
G: One common question/concern around is about the difficult to join a big company without a big college name. Are you agree? What do you think about it?
J: I do not want to judge anyone, so I will briefly describe my personal opinion. Definitively big companies (eg. Google, Cisco, Facebook, IBM, Intel) are investing more time, money and human resources to promote themselves mainly at big universities and campuses. Students can talk directly with employees, ask for more details about possible internship or full-time offers or even receive a referral. If company hires people based on a University their finished, instead of skill/personality, then probably it is not worth to work there. I prefer to believe that if something is meant to happen, it’s gonna happen sooner or later.
G: Tell me about your experience at Google. How did you apply? (CV submission vs. referral)
J: I have applied to Google in Q4 2012 using google.com/about/careers/students/ website. Totally random idea, which has changed my life drastically (but in a positive way). I heard about people applying for these type of internship, but never knew anyone.
G: What was your role?
J: My first internship I have applied was a Corporate Engineering (CorpEng) intern position based in London, UK. I was mostly working as a 1st line of support for Googlers, plus my 20% project was with a Network Deployment team. Second and third internship was officially a Software Engineering (SWE) intern in Zurich, CH. That time I was working within a team of Network Engineers, responsible for designing the network and creating automation tools.
G: I’ve heard something about a “Google internship rule”. What is it about?
J: Not many people know, that once you receive first offer from Google for an internship position, next internships (without changing the internship role) do not require any additional interviews. So, if you were SWE intern in a team A, next summer you can be a SWE intern in team B or C. The only rule is that you are still studying or you have graduated this year. My first internship was achieved after 3 successful interviews. Second internship required only one interview (because I was changing a role from CorpEng to SWE). Third internship was with the same team as second internship (so there was no interview required). Third internship was obtained with a huge dose of luck, as there was another student going to join the team. Sadly, he was denied to obtain visa. The only solution for my team was to lose a headcount or offer me another project 🙂
G: What was your background when you were accepted for the 1st internship?
J: I was struggling a lot to find the coolest thing to learn. Before joining the PUT, I have completed the ICT technician degree at Technical High School of Telecommunication (2008-2012). Early in 2009, I started playing with analog electronics, which led me to build my first MOS-FET amplifier. Few months later, my parents (after few requests) bought me an AVR kit (with 8-bit Atmega32 processor) and C programming book, so I wanted to thanks, them by building my first Line Follower! Year 2010 was crucial, I met two amazing teachers (Stanisław Sitek and Janusz Pochmara). Both of them focused on teaching me basic concepts of telecommunication and networking. Within next two years, I was three time in final of Polish technical knowledge competition. I think these achievement were the main reason, why Google called me.
Shortly, I had no certification but a solid fundamental knowledge in many areas (far from being an expert) and a will to learn anything.
G: Can you share with us any advice for someone who want to start a career in network engineering?
J: It took me a lot of effort to be in a place that I am today. Firstly, I believe that each of us have a unique success pattern. Although, here are five important things:
- Internships – very important ingredient of success. They let us present our knowledge, face new problems and make connections with people. It is ten times easier to get a full-time offer once you were an intern.
- Determination – My favourite quote is “You will not destroy a wall using your head, but if every other solution has failed, you should try even that one” (My personal translation of J. Piłsudski).
- People – do not skip anyone that you meet along the way (at school/university or previous job). One day it may happen, that you will need some help and there is nothing better than multiple giving you support.
- Passion – is not necessary, because all you need is a will to learn.
- Certification – Hard to say… I have CCNP and JNCIS, but I think that I am a bit over-certified. Definitively it can help you to get an interview invitation, but while being interviewed you must present knowledge, not a paper.
G: Plans for the future?
J: As mentioned at the beginning, I am recently relocating to Sydney. My plan is to keep a healthy balance in my life. I do my best to keep myself busy with learning languages (recently German), reading books (sport science and historical fantasy), running (in June completed my first 60km run and preparing for more) and learning (as I’m still a student). Networking technology is an interesting beast, but I’m not 100% if it is the passion of my life. I hope that new role at Google will help me to answer this question, discover something new inside me and develop my personality. Three years ago my plan was to finish a MSc at PUT, but it has changed with a single mouse click. Is it worth to spend time on planning, if everything can turn around in an unexpected way in a matter of seconds…
G: Many thanks for your time Jakub, wish you all the best for everything! 🙂
J: Hope you enjoyed reading 🙂