Rebase into Ops Engineering

Changing careers can be exciting and intimidating at the same time, especially when you are learning a new skill set. This is a brief introduction around my journey from Sales Representative at Custom Ink to Operations Engineer and the resources I used to transition into Ops Engineering.

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Around June of 2016 I applied to an internal internship program, called an Inkternship, with the WebOps team. The purpose of program at the time was to get some exposure to another part of the business that you do not regularly interact with in your day to day. It sounded like a lot of fun when I read the description, and I was excited to see how that team affected my role in Sales. I had to interview with the WebOps manager as well as the Director of Infrastructure and I vividly remember thinking to myself, "they won't pick me." With Inkternships, there is an understanding that folks will have little to no knowledge around that particular part of the business...but the interview was intimidating, at least for me. When the Director of Infrastructure asked me if I knew what AWS was, I said no...when he asked if I knew what Chef was, I said no...I had never touched a terminal before and was completely new to this. But, I emphasized that I was willing to learn and hoped to have a greater understanding of their work and how it affected my work. Long story short, the Inkternship opportunity presented itself to me and I was with the WebOps team from mid June 2016 - September 2016 and I loved it!

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During the Inkternship Program, I was absorbing as much information at home as I was at work. The learning never stopped. I started with the basics of just learning a few of the tools listed below:

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So, how did I go from Inktern to full time Operations Engineer by December 2016? I studied...a lot and I asked a lot of questions. I'm fortunate enough to work at a company where asking questions is encouraged and I never felt less than my peers for asking "simple" questions. I had a fantastic mentor at the time and he helped me navigate the land of WebOps. It was overwhelming as to the amount of information out there for being an Operations Engineer so I compartmentalized the topics I had to learn, and only focused on that until I felt comfortable enough to move onto the next one. I started with Linux, it seemed the easiest for me to wrap my head around and it was a foundational building block for the rest. Every day after work I would go home and pick up where I left off because this was interesting and fun to me. I enjoyed learning more about how the site remained available and the impact that I had on the rest of the company.

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Three years in, I have to say this is the most exciting career path I have ever had. It was a lot of time spent learning the tools that I use and I am continuing to learn every day. We are currently migrating our traditional infrastructure from EC2 to Kubernetes and new challenges present themselves all the time along with having to learn a new thing. If you like to learn new things, consider a career in tech and do not get discouraged!! You will not get it right the first time, if you do, awesome! But chances are you won't, and you have to be okay with that. Continue to push through the hard parts because this is rewarding work and it's awesome to see your impact at scale like on a website accessed by millions!

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About the author

Katherine Cisneros is an Operations Engineer at Custom Ink and has been an Inker since March 2015.

by Katherine Cisneros