Here we are again with another interview! 😀
Today, our guest is Bruce, a young and brilliant Network Engineer from the US. Despite his youth he already have a lot of experience on the field and I’m sure you’ll enjoy his contribution here and his tips. Let’s go 🙂
Gabriele: Hey Bruce, welcome! Let’s start simple: Who are you? Where are you from? How old are you?
Bruce: Hello! My name is Bruce DeWald and I’m from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, US. I’m 21 and currently a senior at RIT.
G: What did you study and where?
B: I’m currently a senior studying Applied Networking and Systems Administration at Rochester Institute of Technology. I’ll be graduating in May 2016 with my undergraduate degree.
G: Based on your LinkedIn page, you have a lot of experience on IT. Can you talk us about your past experiences?
B: I’ve had three related jobs to network engineering. My first and current position is at my department’s on campus computer labs. I have built and manage our current server and network infrastructure. This job has given me a lot of experience as I’ve had the ability to learn a lot of new things and be able to do it myself as this isn’t a production infrastructure that a company relies on.
My second experience (Summer 2014) was a Network Engineering Internship at Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida. I worked more with network management and monitoring tools here ensuring the infrastructure remained up. I also got to recreate some topologies in the lab to troubleshoot issues we were having which was a lot of fun.
My most recent experience was this past summer interning at Cisco Meraki which I’ll elaborate on further on.
G: As you said, your most recent experience has been at Cisco Meraki, Tell me about it. How did you apply?
B: I actually applied at RIT’s career fair in October 2014. We have a career fair twice a year where over 250 companies come to recruit our students.
G: How was the recruiting process organized?
B: At the career fair itself I was asked some very brief questions (about 5 or so) to supplement my resume to get a baseline about my knowledge. A few weeks later I had two one hour skype interviews. About a month after that I had a final one hour skype interview with the manager. Finally, an additional month went by until I heard back that I had received an offer (December 2014).
G: Is there anything about interviews you can share (without breaking any NDA)?
B: All three of my interviews were extremely technical with maybe about 10% of the time being spent on behavioral questions. They involved going through network troubleshooting scenarios that my interviewer would draw out on the board. These interviews were quite challenging but were also a lot of fun!
G: How was your internship organized? Have you done any kind of training?
B: My internship lasted eleven weeks over the summer. The first two weeks had training throughout and we eased ourselves into the job. The rest of the internship we were essentially on our own. By that I mean no one was holding our hand and we were doing real work but everyone around the entire office was extremely friendly and helpful as we had questions.
G: What was your role?
B: My official title was “Network Support Engineer Intern.” This involved handling customer cases revolving around the Meraki product. Some days I would close lots of cases because the customers would be asking easy questions. Other days I would spend an entire day on 2 or 3 cases. These cases might have required reading through lots of documentation, asking more senior employees for their expertise, or recreating the issue in our lab. Any time a case required further investigation we would recreate the customer topology in our lab. This both helped me learn the product/networking better, but also allowed us to see exactly what the customer was seeing.
G: What do you like the most about Cisco Meraki and your job as an intern?
B: The culture and atmosphere around the office made it a really enjoyable place to work in.There’s so many places to relax and so many great people around the office. Several times at lunch we would be joined by people we had never met before (often from another department) and have a great conversation over lunch.
G: How does Cisco Meraki “treat” its interns? What kind of “perks” did you receive?
B: We were treated just like full time employees. About the only difference between us and the full time employees was that we didn’t get health insurance. Meraki even provides awesome housing for us during the internship. Which is great because the cost of rent in San Francisco is ridiculous! Besides the awesome office, other perks we got were free breakfast & lunch, with occasional dinners and micro kitchens all around the office with tons of healthy (and unhealthy) snacks. We also got other random perks like free massages one day. There was also a gym in the building that we could use to work out before/after work.
G: In your opinion, what are the skills that a Cisco Meraki intern candidate should have?
B: In my opinion, the primary skill one needs at this job and any other in this field, is the ability to adapt and learn quickly. This field is always changing and companies are always shifting which technologies they use. The ability to learn something new quickly is a great skill to have. As for this particular internship, network troubleshooting skills were essential as that is pretty much what the internship entailed.
G: At the end of the internship, does they give the opportunity to convert it into a fulltime position?
B: Yes, if interested, interns can go through a few additional interviews to review their internship and skills to see if they get a full time offer.
G: How did you prepare yourself for the interviews?
B: I didn’t do any particular training for the interviews as I felt that my past experience and education had adequately prepared me for the internship. I am very happy with the education I have received and lucky to have gotten the experience that I have.
G: Can you share with us any advice for someone who want to start career in network engineering?
B: I think someone who’s interested in network engineering should play around with the technology as much as possible. I think it’s great to teach yourself new things that you are interested in. Occasionally I go into my department labs and just play with something new to teach myself. I also Co-Founded a networking club at RIT called NextHop where we try to teach students things that aren’t covered by our classes to better prepare students for a career in networking or systems administration.
I also personally believe that certs are a great way to both prove that you know something and teach yourself something new. I currently have my CCNA R&S and am pursuing others.
G: As always, one last question. What are your plans for the future?
B: My plans for the future are to obtain a full time Network Engineering position in the San Francisco Bay Area starting May 2016.
G: With such experience, knowledge and personality I’m sure you will have no problems with landing a wonderful position in any field you’d want 🙂
Many many thanks for your time, Bruce. We wish you all the best for everything 🙂
B: Thanks. It’s been a pleasure!
Honestly, I’m pretty amazed by Bruce’s story. He is so young and yet so skilled!
If you want to do like Bruce, this is the Cisco Meraki’s career page where you can find all the available positions. Don’t be shy, let’s apply 🙂