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BLOG: Community Talk
Advice for Next-Gen Engineers
Feb 22, 2017

It’s National Engineers Week and the next generation is excited and ready to jump into the ever-changing world of IT. But as we all know, it is nearly impossible to keep up with this industry's twists, turns and flips on a daily basis. So what can we do to help prepare the next generation for what’s to come? We asked IT engineers what advice they would share with those embarking on this career path.


Here’s what they had to say:


Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started in this industry?

“Find pride in change, challenge and being willing to share what you know and be willing to learn from others.” – Jeff Fry


“Looking back over the years, the times I made the most progress professionally, were when I was thrown into situations where I was out of my depth. So get uncomfortable, bite off more than you can chew and be amazed at what you learn and achieve!” – Ben Dale


“Focus day one on learning soft skills. The better your soft skills, the better you can articulate your ideas, your problems, your solutions and the easier it is to collaborate with others.” – Bhupen Mistry


“High level knowledge and vertical knowledge is a real must, product and technology specific is much more a value-add later on.” – Dirk Muytjens 


How have things changed and how do you stay prepared?

“Virtualization has revolutionized Networking as we know it. There is still only one tried and true way of staying prepared, Reading and Lab work.” – Victor Gonzales


“Trying to educate myself on new, upcoming technologies, threats, attack vectors, are just some of the things I think that help me stay prepared. I think training and education are key.” – Scott Ware


“The pace of technology advances keeps accelerating - it’s almost impossible to keep on top of all things technical, but having a general understanding of the various technology domains (storage, virtualization, systems availability, security) has helped me over the years.” – Ben Dale


“Read everything (standards, white papers, vendor documentation). Expect change. When looking at the next big thing, apply the Gartner hype cycle: Peak of Inflated Expectations, trough of disillusionment, plateau of profitability. What it is today it may not be tomorrow.” – Perry Young


What are some of the challenges you face?

“Biggest challenge is getting comfortable in what I do and not learning… You have to be on the looking for new technologies, efficiencies, and what others are doing and talking about. Social media is a great way to stay current with your peers. From there you can find out what they are doing, learning, and have seen. They may open your eyes to new opportunities and ideas that you could never imagine.” – Jeff Fry


“Things can change in an instant, not only from a technology standpoint, but from a business one as well. You must be ready for anything, anticipating how you are going to handle certain situations. Change is the biggest challenge.” – Scott Ware


“In every industry there is always something that will be a challenge and always something to complain about and you can either let it get you down or you can get on top of it and earn praise and respect from your colleagues for being so accommodating.” – Martin Brown


What is going to make someone successful in this industry? 

“Not being the smartest person in the room. This is how you keep yourself challenged and prevent a false sense of security. You want to always be working with people smarter than yourself, peers you respect, and people who will continue to challenge you to become a better person and engineer.” – Jeff Fry


“First and foremost, honesty.  If you don’t know how to do something, say so.  It’s far better to admit you don’t know than bring a network down.  If you broke something, tell someone, your colleagues would be far more willing to help and the issue may get fixed sooner if you told them what you were doing when it went wrong.  More importantly, be honest with yourself as, if you recognize areas you are weak in, you know what technology you need to study in order to turn your weakness into a strength.” – Martin Brown


“Amongst all the change that the industry faces, there are still fundamental networking concepts that apply (Ethernet, IP routing etc.). When you truly understand these concepts and the fact that they are building blocks to just about everything else is when you will become a strong network engineer.” – Ben Dale


“Showing humility, sharing knowledge, having a mentor and later being a mentor for someone starting out – ‘A candle that lights another loses no light’ - I can’t stress this one enough: I remember those helped me to get where I am today, and I try my hardest to pass this on.” – Ben Dale


“The IT industry has a severe shortage of "full stack engineers". As IT technology has evolved and become more complex, engineering disciplines tend to focus on one particular widget instead of how an entire system work together. This is especially true in the networking industry. But as distributed cloud platforms become the norm, understanding of how that entire platform operates will be very beneficial. Yes we still need rock star network engineers, but the rock star engineers of the future will understand the ecosystem around us.” – Scott Sneddon


“This industry is about understanding the technology but more importantly, the impact it will have and the way it will be used by the changing society.” – David Noguer Bau


“Volunteer for projects… This is an opportunity to take risks and put yourself in positions where your head might be barely above the water because the penalties for failure are so low.” – Ben Baker


Let us know if you have any more advice to share and follow the conversation on our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn social channels. Thanks!