The famous quote “It’s always about the journey, and not the destination” sounds about right when I think of it now.
As a young IT nerd like 100’s of them out there in every nation of the world, I was one of them. Not interested in playing video games but just tinkering around with any software, book or hardware I could find. My passion drives me and my curiosity motivates me to do more and more every single day. One cannot sustain without the other.
By the age of 15, it was clear that I wanted to become a “Computer Engineer” or whatever the hell that meant but it sounded pretty damn cool to me. While pursuing that degree and graduating at the age of 20 with one, I had just one thought, “What a stupid waste of time”. The reason I say this because I learned more in my home than attending classes. The theoretical knowledge will never give you much info than practical knowledge ever will. But anyway, after getting kicked out of classes more time than I count on my fingers and teachers hating me for a bad attitude, rude behavior and acting like a prick, I still graduated. Yay me!
But till then, I had stuck to writing basic programs for sorting, graphs, a bit of OOPS and Linux here and there. I was also into the security aspect of everything. Thinking of how things might break over time and how I might be able to stop an attack even before it happens.
And hence I started my degree towards a master’s in cybersecurity. This was a kind of a facepalm moment. The reason I say this because things were again theoretical then and the classes that had a practical approach, well I did not like the professors. The only one I loved was System Administration taught by Jan S (A Security Architect at Yahoo).
He convinced me that Security was just one aspect of computing and running systems where there was no point in having security if you obstruct functionality with it. Damn good point sir.
And since then, I did not want to become a security engineer but an Infrastructure Engineer. I managed to secure an Internship at MeetUp on the infrastructure team only because I wanted so bad to become and Infra Engineer. That’s all I wanted to live and breathe. I ghosted other companies that I had interview for because some started giving me ultimatums and what not when i pretty clear about my role expectations.
Well, considering we have free speech, MeetUp’s Infra intern was good. I learned a lot but had very little to do or contribute. I was afraid that I might break something, I was still wrapping my head around their codebase and I kinda had a love-hate relationship with my manager. Took a lot away from it but gave very little back.
But now, attending meetups on DevOps, and I had taken a keen interest in a person called “Elle Mundy”, an SRE at meetup. She was calm as water when responding to production incidents and I wanted to be “That Person”. And I started my journey towards an SRE from that very day.
Moreover, Tom Limoncelli (My Idol) who also has books on System Administration was apparently an SRE Manager at Stack Overflow. I wanted to become this person so much that words will fall short of them. He is the most humble, knowledgeable and calm person I’ve ever met.
The sad part was, nobody wanted to hire a 22-year-old SRE and hand over their production systems to this individual. (I know I won’t). SRE’s needed a decent level of experience and a strong understanding of Linux which i clearly did not have but in the process of gaining it.
I applied to 100’s of companies but nobody was interested in me. I got interview calls for Security Engineers but my heart never really could stick to it. I would be taking up a job for the sake of the job and my heart would just shut down during the job interview.
I also interviewed at Google, Bloomberg, GS for SRE roles, sadly, some were way out of my reach out had leet code programming involved which I had just started to do for passing interviews and that also went kinda downhill.
I finally secured an Internship as a DevOps Intern at Rubenstein Tech, a Fin-Tech company on wall street. I cannot term it literally fin-tech but I have no idea how to describe it either. Rbt, designed websites for all the rich law firms in NYC. Milbank, Akingump, Akerman and the list goes on.
I learned a lot over there and contributed 110% of my caliber but sadly, it just wasn’t the right company for me. I had to do things a predefined way, always ask before doing something and it can be a problem for me in the long run. I lined up interviews for DevOps/SRE roles at different companies nearing the end of the internship since I could not accept a FT offer there. I interviewed at a HedgeFund in Midtown but they retracted and lowered the offer which bumped me out a lot. The interview went on for 5 and a half hours which was okay but when a company moves back on its word, it kills me.
And the company I loved interviewing for was CB Insights. (Where I work now). They had a clear and cogent way of interviewing, straight forward process and that was it. I interviewed, they fast-forwarded my process and I accepted the job offer. I was also interviewing at a company called Hyper Science then which is also a pretty cool company but I stopped my interview process right there as it seemed unethical after accepting a job offer.
And now I am finally an SRE. Yay. Let’s see how this journey goes ahead.