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Day Two Cloud 133: Tips For Tech Interview Success

Episode 133

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You’ve honed your tech chops, acquired certifications, and polished your resume. All that stands before you and that shiny new job is…the interview. Or more likely, interviews. Whether they happen over Zoom or in an office, and whether you have to answer a barrage of arcane tech questions or list your strengths and weaknesses, the interview is the final hurdle to employment.

Today on the Day Two Cloud podcast we offer tips and advice for those on the job market, from finding new opportunities, building a professional network, prepping for interviews, handling curve-ball questions, managing nerves, and more. Our guest is Amy Colyer, Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. Amy recently went through multiple interviews to land her latest gig.

Sponsor: ITProTV

Start or grow your IT career with online training from ITProTV. From CompTIA to Cisco and Microsoft, ITProTV offers more than 5,800 hours of on-demand training. Courses are listed by category, certification, and job role. Day Two Cloud listeners can sign up and save 30% off all plans. Go to itpro.tv/daytwocloud and use promo code CLOUD to save 30%.

Sponsor: StrongDM

StrongDM is secure infrastructure access for the modern stack. StrongDM proxies connections between your infrastructure and Sysadmins, giving your IT team auditable, policy-driven, IaC-configurable access to whatever they need, wherever they are. Find out more at StrongDM.com/packetpushers.

Tech Bytes: Singtel

Stay tuned for a sponsored Tech Bytes conversation with Singtel on addressing the complexities of cloud-ready networks. Our guest is Mark Seabrook, Global Solutions Manager at Singtel.

Show Links:

@wyrdgirl – Amy Colyer on Twitter

Amy Colyer on LinkedIn

Transcript:

[00:00:00.490] – Ethan
[AD] This episode of Day Two Cloud is brought to you in part by IT Pro TV. Start or grow your IT career with online IT training from IT Pro TV and we have a special offer for all you amazing Day Two Cloud listeners. Sign up and save 30% off all plans ITPro dot tv slash day two cloud and use promo code Cloud at checkout to save 30% off all plans.

[00:00:27.650] – Ethan
Sponsor StrongDM is secure infrastructure access for the modern stack StrongDM proxies connections between your infrastructure and Sysadmins, giving your IT team auditable, policy driven IaC configurable access to whatever they need wherever they are. Find out more at strongdm.com slash PacketPushers

[00:00:52.710] – Ethan
Welcome to Day Two Cloud. And today we’re doing a career oriented show. We are interviewing Amy Colyer. Amy is someone that Ned and I know, and she just went through five or something interviews and ended up landing a gig. And so we said, Amy, we should pick your brain about interviewing and interview skills and all that kind of stuff. That was pretty much how the prep call went, wasn’t it, Ned?

[00:01:17.730] – Ned
I mean, it’s such a relevant topic right now because the job market is super hot. So even if you’re not thinking about leaving your current job, it’s definitely worth exploring to see what’s out there and maybe there’s a better fit. And using her tips, you can help figure out what positions are available and maybe how you should prepare for the interviews that follow once you apply for that position.

[00:01:39.950] – Ethan
So enjoy this interview with Amy Colyer about interviewing and then stay tuned. We have a tech byte with Singtel continuing our series on cloud networking. Amy Colyer, welcome to Day Two Cloud. And if you would tell the nice people out there, who are you and what do you do?

[00:01:57.890] – Amy
I like that. Like. Who’s your Daddy? What do you do? Well, Amy Colyer now, I used to be Amy Manley out there, and I do a lot of things. I’ve been dabbling in technology for a long time, but now I’m going to be a senior cloud advocate at Microsoft. So that’s my exciting news because I’ve been interviewing since about September.

[00:02:19.470] – Ethan
Senior cloud advocate. So does that mean is that a customer facing role?

[00:02:26.010] – Amy
Pretty much. So it could be customer facing or Webinars or going to VMWorld or Ignite or going to conferences.

[00:02:37.530] – Ethan
The idea to get folks like interested in Azure Technologies, that kind of thing.

[00:02:42.020] – Amy
Yeah. Speaking the good word of Microsoft. Yes.

[00:02:44.560] – Ethan
Got it. Okay, well, you just said you just landed a role, so apparently you’ve been looking for a while interviewing for a while. Well, you were doing something before, so what happened? When did you know that it was time to do something new?

[00:02:59.550] – Amy
It’s funny because I was at Microsoft before in the sales role, like a pre sales role. And then I really got that everyone talks about IT the burnout. Oh, gosh, I just need to kind of pivot and do something different. So Skylines Academy, we started that/ Or I didn’t start it. I joined it and did more of a digital tech marketing. So I got to play with Photoshop, but also help record things or help create PowerPoints and blog. So it was definitely less pressure, I would say, or less stress like customer facing, make your sales number. So it was a nice break and now I’m just kind of ready to get back out there. So I’m rejuvenated.

[00:03:51.330] – Ned
So you’re just going to step to the side, do something a little bit different. Still stuff you’re interested in. So cloud and creating content. And then you thought yourself, hey, I’m ready to put my hat back in the ring, see what’s out there. How did you go about looking at prospective employers? Were there some requirements you put together for yourself?

[00:04:13.290] – Amy
Actually, no. Are you paying me? No. It’s funny because I interviewed with some really small companies and then very large companies, so I really didn’t have a, I want to work in a startup or I want to work in a huge conglomerate. But it was mostly again, that cloud role focus on Azure because I really don’t know anything about AWS or GCP, but I was willing to learn if I needed to. So it was pretty much just down to that, using my skills. And then a lot of it was customer facing, some more like a consulting type roles until I heard about the Microsoft role.

[00:05:03.410] – Ethan
So you drilled into the role itself and less focused on the company or culture or these kind of things?

[00:05:11.240] – Amy
Well, eventually you get to know the culture. Actually, a lot of the companies I interviewed had a really great culture, so it was definitely difficult to pick. So I have friends that have gone on to these companies and they love it. And even the really large ones where you think you would just be a number, they really try to make you feel like a human being person, not just an employee. Number 265. I don’t think anyone I actually ended up interviewing with had a bad culture because usually you start with maybe the CEO or someone up top and then you talk with someone on the team and you really get to know the culture. Okay. If I felt bad about something, I’d be like, I think I’m done interviewing.

[00:06:00.380] – Ned
So you’re gauging the culture based off of the interactions you’re having in the interview process. Were you also talking to some folks that maybe worked at that company and left or were currently there now but not part of the interview process to get a better feel?

[00:06:14.730] – Amy
Oh, definitely. It’s like telling me the good, bad and the ugly.

[00:06:19.310] – Ned
Yeah. My concern would be anybody who’s part of the interview process probably has a pretty shining opinion of the company, one would hope. Yeah, if they’re like, absolutely miserable, there’s a red flag. But did you talk to anybody who had been there and then left to find out? Hey, why did you leave or something along those lines?

[00:06:37.340] – Amy
Definitely. I’m not sure about name dropping or anything. Yeah, I definitely talked to someone who’s working there, currently known in the community as well, and really good guy. So he was like, I love it. And here’s the things that would change. And then the other company that was harder because they were so small and they were just building that group. So it was more based on who referred me to that job, it was a person higher up, kind of like a friend of a friend. So he was like, it’s great, I promise you. So you have to take his word. I could always Hunt him down.

[00:07:24.730] – Ned
Right? You heard about that opportunity through your network, through a friend. Is that the best way to find opportunities to just plumb your network or are there other ways that you’d recommend?

[00:07:38.690] – Amy
I mean, that’s the only way I’ve ever, I think, gotten a job. Like, I’ve never gotten a Monster.com. There’s never a good match. It definitely helps. Linkedin helps, Twitter helps. And then, yeah, just don’t burn those bridges. I was messaging old coworkers. I was even going to look at going to the customer side and hopefully not be on call because that’s traumatic. Too old for that.

[00:08:12.290] – Ethan
It’s funny how people impact your ability to find opportunities and then be taken seriously. So there was a job I interviewed for a decade or more ago. Now, I was qualified for the job and the role was opening because there was someone there who was leaving. It was known that they were going to be moving on at a certain time. They were trying to fill that role before that person left. So I applied for it because a friend told me about the role and the guy that was there buried my resume. He didn’t like my qualification set or something. And I was told it was because it made him look a little bad. And so he buried it. He stuck it on the bottom of the pile. And it took me talking through my friend that had told me to apply to say, hey, go to the person above him and bring my resume back up to the top. So I have a shot at this thing. I can come in for an interview.

[00:09:10.280] – Amy
Oh, wow.

[00:09:11.170] – Ethan
That is wasn’t my resume on its own merits that got me the interview. It was all this politics and nonsense going on in the background and me leaning into my friend to get that chance to have the interview, which is quite depressing because you’d think if you see a job on LinkedIn or indeed or whatever, and you apply for it’s like, oh, my resume is a great match for this. I’ll be getting a call back any second now and then nothing happens. Knowing people is so important.

[00:09:38.390] – Amy
It is. I mean, you are just another name with another resume. Yeah. Knowing someone on the inside definitely helps. Or even just someone who knows someone.

[00:09:52.770] – Ned
Right? Because as much as we want to think that it’s purely based on merits, just look at the resume, look at all that I’ve done. And obviously I’m qualified for the job. I mean, so much of it does come down to the internal politics of the organization and unfortunately, who knows who, right? So if you’ve been in the industry for a while, that can serve you well, right?

[00:10:12.710] – Amy
Exactly. Yeah. But pay it forward. I had my brother inlaw, he computer geek on his own. But no, it’s hard to get your foot in sometimes into the tech industry if you don’t know someone. So I was working at a place customer side and at least got him on the help desk like, hey, just interview him, give him a shot. He plays with his PC, takes it apart. I’m sure he’ll be good. And yeah, he’s moving up the ranks now. So you need someone to help you out sometimes get your foot in the door, and then you got to prove yourself.

[00:10:50.970] – Ethan
Do you have any thoughts, Amy? For those people that are listening going, I’m new to all of this and I don’t have those people to call. How do I get my foot in the door?

[00:10:59.800] – Amy
Oh, man, I would think at least we have such a great community. I mean, that’s how we know each other years ago, Ethan, I would think, yeah, joining if it’s a VMUG or depending on what you’re interested in, there’s so many things online now, too. Thank you, Covid. So you don’t have to travel and Ignite was free, so you can go to these places where, attend these functions that you normally couldn’t and try to make a name for yourself. I didn’t know who Gregor Sutie is, but you go on Twitter and you start playing with Azure and then you start meeting people. So he’s a big MVP and really community focused. I think just getting your name into the community, maybe start blogging or just stuff you’re learning.

[00:11:57.510] – Ethan
And from there, have you had any luck with recruiters? It sounds like you haven’t had to deal with recruiters considering, you know all these people, Amy, but any luck or experience with recruiters? In the past?

[00:12:10.400] – Amy
I did well, the one job I applied for that was customer side was through like a recruiter. And honestly, the role wasn’t really much in my realm, but I was like, I’ll try. It was a business architect. Well, like an architect, but I didn’t know all the terminology and all the tech behind it. So they’re like, oh, all right, you’ll be a junior. And then I interviewed at least that was the easiest one. So it was this interview with the manager and the guy leaving and then hope they like me and go from there. The other ones were very involved where you’re like, interview number one, interview number two, interview number three, please stop.

[00:13:00.530] – Ned
I think that leads us into the next set of questions, which is really all around the interview process. Right. And you know, you’re going into an interview. What do you do to prepare for that initial interview? You’ve made it through the screening process, or you’ve found the right person to push your resume through. You got that first interview. What are you doing on your side to prepare for that?

[00:13:22.980] – Amy
Definitely look up the company, what they’re doing. A lot of them do ask you a question. So what do you think we do, or do you have any questions for us? And you’re like, I feel like it’s always good to have a question for them. If you just say, no, I’m good. They’re kind of like, well, come on, try harder. So I always try to have a question for them. I do a little research. And honestly, what really helped me was right before an interview, I always get nervous. So I would do like maybe like a 20 minutes little workout, just kind of get pumped and then have the energy. And it’s so mentally taxing because you’re on presenting.

[00:14:14.290] – Ned
Yeah.

[00:14:14.880] – Amy
Definitely takes a lot. Unless you’re a true extrovert.

[00:14:19.630] – Ned
I definitely want to Echo that. Look up something about the company portion.

[00:14:23.090] – Amy
Yeah.

[00:14:23.380] – Ned
Because I’ve been on both sides of the interviewing table, especially in my previous role where I was interviewing a lot of people coming in and we would ask them, what do you know about the company? And if they just stared at you blankly, that was pretty much a no go unless they had an amazing resume I’ve ever seen. And their skills were undeniable if they hadn’t even bothered to look up what the company does.

[00:14:46.110] – Amy
Yeah, yeah.

[00:14:49.150] – Ned
I’m not feeling really great about how motivated you’re going to be, especially because it was consulting stuff. So you had to be independently self motivated to be successful in those roles. And if you’re not even going to take the initiative to look up what my company does, maybe there’s something better out there for you.

[00:15:05.310] – Ethan
And it’s not just what the company does. I mean, there’s so much information you can find out about a company. If you drill in, go to their about page. Who are the founders? What is their background? Are they on LinkedIn? What were their previous endeavors? Probably they have a media or a news or a Press release page read through the latest things they’ve been releasing to the media because this is what they’re public about. This is what they’re excited about, and they want people to know about their company. Have they had a funding round recently? They’ll announce that we got 80 million Series B or whatever it is. They’ll talk about that kind of stuff. Where are they located? Are they a global company, or they just have some maybe they’re a Canadian company and they’ve got just one location in Toronto, but maybe they’re all over the world. All that stuff could be relevant. Dig in, find out stuff. It’s good stuff to know.

[00:15:58.450] – Ethan
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[00:16:09.270] – Ethan
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[00:17:19.180] – Ethan
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So, Amy, you said you get nervous and you work out to get that energy. Is there another way you channel that energy? I mean, do you think it’s a good thing or something? Like you shouldn’t get nervous. You get sweaty armpits and that’s no good.

[00:18:29.940] – Amy
You don’t like go hardcore. But it was funny because my sister-in-law, she read a study. It was like they had students work out like a 20 minutes moderate exercise and then take a test and they performed better. So I kind of took that. Or if you watch Grey’s Anatomy, they do the superhero pose before they do a big surgery. It’s just kind of getting that confidence and the endorphins. We bring up the word imposter syndrome. I’m like, maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I don’t know enough, what if they’re going to ask me some crazy like some people. Yeah. What’s the command line for deleting an entire Azure active directory forest. You get questions like that and eventually I’m just like, I don’t know, I would Google that.

[00:19:25.510] – Ethan
Do you get questions like that?

[00:19:28.810] – Amy
Yeah. It was weird. I think one of the interviews they asked me about a lot about Azure SQL and then keeping it highly available and how it’s good. It’s been a while since I’ve messed around with SQL. Interesting.

[00:19:46.330] – Ned
You ever get the feeling that sometimes the really technical questions were because they have that problem right now and they’re trying to solve it.

[00:19:53.830] – Ethan
You’re doing a little consulting right there on the fly.

[00:19:57.310] – Amy
They’re like, we have this issue right now. How would you fix it? It was with load balancing.

[00:20:05.010] – Ned
I’ll start by charging you $300 an hour. And then I would try.

[00:20:10.250] – Amy
I have to admit, when I interviewed people, I would do the same thing. Like, how would you solve this problem? We tried this.

[00:20:17.330] – Ethan
I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and if I came up with any questions like that, it was less about do they know the command line switch that does X and more about what is their experience? I don’t remember every line unless there’s some oddball thing I’ve Typed a million times. I know I can look it up. I want to understand their thinking process and delve into how deep the experience is. If you ask some obtuse, obscure question, it’s more about if you’ve been there before just to see where they’re at and mine the depths and less about I actually don’t care if you know the answer on some level, it’s more how do you react to this honestly stupid question?

[00:20:55.910] – Amy
Well, yeah, if you show the problem solving skills, maybe you don’t know it, but I would ask the customer this and then are they using this and showing that at least proves you’re taking the right steps to get the right information to solve it, even if you don’t know the technology. So, yeah, I think that’s really important. Like you said, mentioning how you would solve the problem. You might not have the answer, but at least you’re attempting to gather the right data and address it.

[00:21:23.330] – Ned
Yeah. Now the interviews you done recently, I’m assuming those were all remote.

[00:21:29.750] – Amy
Yeah. Nice not having to drive everywhere and dress up. I just wear a nice top and then sweatpants.

[00:21:45.370] – Ned
Any tips that you have beyond just putting on a nice shirt for anybody who is doing the remote interviewing thing because it is very different than being in person.

[00:21:54.400] – Amy
Yeah. I find it harder because you can’t read that body language. Yeah. Obviously dressed professionally is from the camera view.

[00:22:11.090] – Ethan
You can see some body language, Amy [yawning], I’m really enjoying this interview.

[00:22:20.950] – Amy
Thanks Ethan. Yeah. Eye contact to the camera. It was weird because you’re looking either at the video of the person or trying to show you making eye contact was a big deal. My dog would attack me sometimes during the interview and I’m like, come on. So I’d have to lock myself somewhere. So that was a new one. I’m like, sorry, just 1 second.

[00:22:43.870] – Ethan
Did you focus on the quality of your sound and lighting?

[00:22:50.570] – Amy
Good question. I did. Well, I would join early, make sure my audio is working, the sound, the lighting for sure, because again, this is your first impression. So if you’re sitting in a dark room, they can’t see you and hear you. I don’t think it’s going to go very well depending on what job you’re going for.

[00:23:15.350] – Ethan
And Ned and I live in a world where we’re on and or broadcasting something frequently. And so that’s something we’ve had to deal with. We’re podcasters, among other sorts of presentations that we do. But a lot of people that we talk to, they don’t know what they sound like. And so they’re talking, they’re yelling at their laptop, and the room is very echoey. And you can solve that with a headset very easily. Lighting is another thing. A lot of people, just the way their offices are situated, they happen to sit in front of a window. A lot of times that windows brightly lit. They’re silhouetted, you can’t see them, they don’t have anything that is front lighting their face. And to me, I want to see if I’m interviewing someone, see that person as good as I can, because you do form a bond there. There’s a little bit of a human interaction, there’s a trust thing going on. And so you want to make the effort to present well on camera as good as you can. It’s worth that extra effort if you’re trying to land that job. Being the shadowy person in a hoodie is maybe nerd stereotype, but that ain’t working for an interview.

[00:24:20.840] – Ethan
Not for me.

[00:24:21.440] – Amy
No, I definitely would join early, check my lighting, check my audio, or even before this like, Zoom is crashing. I’m like, oh God, thank God I checked before it started. So check all make sure everything is ready. You don’t want to join late because you’re rebooting. And so you’re more dependent on your technology for the interview because you’re remote and good internet connection. I ended up doing one in our basement where my husband set up in his office, but he’s hardlined in I was on WiFi and it was a little sketchy. I’m like, Crap, I didn’t test this. I mean, it went okay, but it was, can you repeat that?

[00:25:03.410] – Ned
Right? And even though that’s not necessarily your fault, it can still leave a bad impression with the people interviewing you, right. Just because they have a general bad feeling about the interview, not you. But unfortunately that feeling. And as someone who’s done a lot of interviewing, it’s the esoteric stuff that sits with you and you don’t even realize how it’s influencing your opinion of the person. So control whatever you can, I guess.

[00:25:33.630] – Amy
I did have an Internet outage, so I had to use a hot spot on my phone. Are you kidding me?

[00:25:40.960] – Ethan
Right.

[00:25:44.650] – Amy
So we are dependent on all this tech. It’s like Starbucks is way too loud. That’s not going to look good.

[00:25:57.230] – Ned
Your interviews. You sort of mentioned this earlier that with some of the interviews, one was very simple. You talked to the boss and then you talked to the manager and you were done.

[00:26:06.620] – Amy
Oh, Yes.

[00:26:07.330] – Ned
But there were others that were multilevel. We could say, what is that experience? Like, do you have any tips for people who are in that sort of multilevel interviewing arrangement?

[00:26:18.410] – Amy
Right. Well, I’ve even seen people on LinkedIn, like, they’re complaining about it. We should get rid of this multilevel all day interview process. And I agree. It’s really how many more interviews you need before you decide this person is worthy and you’re going to hire them. So, yeah, it was refreshing to just talk to the boss. There was someone else in the group and the guy that was leaving. So he asked me the technical questions. The boss would see, he’d throw in some questions and then so would the other guy, maybe 45 minutes and Bam, done. But then, yeah, the multi tier. I would LinkedIn stalk everybody. Like, I’d look up their name, what’s their background, where they came from and go from there. So it’s kind of like my internal notes about the person. But honestly, you don’t know until they start because they’re like, well, this person is going to do the tech interview and this person is going to, I don’t know, see if you’re a good fit. Okay. So as far as preparing, there’s only so much you can do. Like you said or Ethan said, you’re not going to remember some weird random command if they decide to ask you that.

[00:27:37.190] – Amy
But a lot of it was the problem solving. What would you ask? How would you go about figuring this out? And I was always I think it was important to be honest. You don’t know, don’t fake it. They know you’re guessing. So just be honest. Well, I would love to learn more about that. I haven’t really dug into that much. So my specialty is XYZ. So showing you’re open to growth, I think is really important. I think personality is really important. You can always learn tech. You can’t learn, especially customer facing. You can’t really teach someone people skills. I would think, to a point, if they’re just the guy in the hoodie who has to sit in the basement to code and doesn’t want human interaction, he’s not going to go out there and sell your cloud practice.

[00:28:34.230] – Ethan
Yeah, exactly right. It depends on the role. They might be great at writing code for you. Just don’t put them in front of other humans. Yeah, exactly.

[00:28:43.890] – Ned
Hopefully that interview process would be a little different when they’re looking for that personality fit and that cultural fit that’s obviously going to be dependent on the role you’re a developer or a cloud advocate. So that’s a customer facing and a public facing role. You have to be out there and at least a little extroverted, a little bit friendly and able to interact with other human beings. But the person writing the code in the background, maybe they don’t. Maybe they just need to be able to communicate well in written form. And that’s it.

[00:29:13.190] – Amy
Exactly.

[00:29:15.510] – Ethan
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[00:30:20.820] – Ethan
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Amy, as your interview goes on, there’s questions, discussion back and forth. Are you taking notes as this process goes along?

[00:31:24.570] – Amy
I mean, I should have, but no, I didn’t know was right or wrong, you know what I mean? Like sitting there with the notepad. So I didn’t. I literally had my laptop on my lap for some of them, so that probably wasn’t the best setup, but it had better lighting until I got my office set up. So I only had my one screen. I’d have some notes scribbled down and then hope for the best. But then as I interviewed more, I would have sticky notes of something or just something I could reference quick if I drew a blank. No, I did not take notes.

[00:32:10.190] – Ethan
The reason I bring that up is in conversations, especially when there’s a lot of back and forth, or if there’s more than just two people involved, maybe there’s multiple people involved. Conversations move fast and there can be a point made where you want to follow up on. Or do you want to know more? Or you didn’t get a chance to say something that was actually pretty important and to make sure you were fully understood and heard you needed to make a point. And so I’ve found it’s been helpful just to sketch down something quick, even if it’s two words, just to remind myself, oh, I wanted to go back to that point and be able to make that point to whoever I’m chatting with during that interview can really be helpful.

[00:32:48.130] – Amy
Yeah.

[00:32:49.190] – Ethan
So why didn’t you do it Amy?

[00:32:54.450] – Amy
You lose track. You’re like. What was the original question? Probably a good idea to take notes.

[00:33:00.570] – Ned
One thing that I did when I was going through a multi level, I want to say multi level marketing. That’s not right.

[00:33:10.040] – Amy
Not buying your essential oils. Okay.

[00:33:13.030] – Ned
Gotta align my chakras. What I would do after the interview was jot down a couple of quick notes, because what I said in one interview or what someone told me in one interview might come up in a future interview because I know that the interviewer is taking notes about me. So I just want to make sure I’m presenting a consistent image. And if something interesting came up that maybe that person didn’t know the answer to, I could write it down and ask the next person in the chain if it’s still relevant. So, yeah, that was what I did. But I like Ethan’s idea, too, of just jotting down. Wow. Okay, we went down a rabbit hole. But I still want to ask you about this.

[00:33:53.650] – Ethan
You reminded me of something else I’ve done in the past, Ned, which is like a follow up email and a couple of quick notes where you wanted to say something back. As a hey, thanks for the opportunity to interview. I really enjoyed our conversation, and we were talking and then this had come up and I wanted to make sure you understand where I’m coming from and something just to tip your mind about what it was you should email them back about kind of thing. Those follow ups. To me, there’s never a bad thing to do something like that. Maybe in 2021, I don’t know, maybe it’s everyone DMs.

[00:34:28.600] – Amy
They encouraged it. They really if you have any questions or you want to add anything, feel free to email us. Like what I should have said was.

[00:34:41.150] – Ethan
Or even, hey, that one question, and I couldn’t remember the answer while I went and I actually looked it up. And here’s the thing. You were looking for the details on here’s some details. It demonstrates that you care and you’re taking the time to do some follow up like that is exactly worthwhile it can leave a good impression.

[00:34:58.550] – Amy
Yeah, it doesn’t hurt.

[00:34:59.960] – Ned
In that same vein, do you write down or have a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer during the process?

[00:35:08.450] – Amy
Again, no, but it was pretty much like gut and intuition. And again, a big company is going to be way different than a small little startup. So like talking about either being on call or what’s required as far as East Coast/West Coast hours if they’re national, global. So one was a UK based company, so you had to think about that time zone too. So life impacting questions were definitely like the whole work life balance was important to me because again, I want a job, but also I’ve done enough in my career. I just want a job that’s a good fit. I don’t want to sacrifice my life for it. So those are the important questions for me. Culture and the work life balance. How do you treat? How do people get treated? Because some people, we have unlimited PTO. But do you actually let people take it or are you shaming them?

[00:36:19.370] – Ned
Yeah, that makes sense. In terms of questions. I would sometimes write down questions ahead of time just because I would get swept up in the conversation in the interview and I might forget what those questions are, but that’s just my personality flaws shining through. So I need that list to remind me. Oh, you really did want to ask about like PTO or travel percentage or whatever it was that was relevant about that role?

[00:36:45.230] – Amy
Yeah, big one I’d always ask is what was one of your best days at work was one of your worst days? How did it go? That’s always interesting.

[00:36:57.530] – Ethan
You were talking about the work life balance thing, Amy, and it’s still in startup culture, especially hustle culture. Work yourself to death. It’s all for the job and all of that. Now, I don’t think we mentioned it actually in the podcast recording, but you interviewed with something like five different companies or something like that before you took the gig with Microsoft. What’s the status of that hustle culture thing? Are you finding companies that are expecting you to basically give all for the company or is work life balance being emphasized more?

[00:37:31.280] – Amy
It was definitely being emphasized more. So that was good to see with the large and the small. I did stay away from any total startup like where you’re wearing ten hats and then obviously you’re going to be working 50 60, who knows how many hours. And I have a family and I like to see the daylight. So I wasn’t going to go for any small startup because someone did refer me like if you start and then you get some buy into the stock of the company if they ever go get big. And I just want a good fit and some good benefits and provide for my family.

[00:38:16.650] – Ethan
What does the work life balance thing mean to you? Is it about like hours? Is it about travel? Is it about PTO, sick time? What’s your gauge? Where you’re like, yeah, these guys have it right? Good work life balance.

[00:38:31.710] – Amy
PTO is important to me for sure. I love the travel and that’s how I recharge. And I’d like to not get bothered on PTO because growing up in this culture used to have that kind of pressure. Check your emails or not, even if you’re on call, but just be available. So I think as time has gone on, companies realize they get a better employee back if they let them take PTO, leave them alone unless it’s like something’s on fire and they’re the only ones that have the answer. Let people recharge and be with their families and then they come back ready to go. So that’s really important. So a decent amount of PTO and hours, a lot of them were kind of like, as long as you get the job done, we don’t care what, you know. So I used to have that feeling, at least in sales, of being tethered to my team’s chat or I am always accessible. And I like the idea of unless you have something to be on, you could walk away and walk your dog or go pick up your dry cleaning and then come back and work some more.

[00:39:45.160] – Amy
So having that flexibility is nice or take your kid to school. Those two things are big, like not being tied to my laptop, like 24/7, because I did have that at least being on the infrastructure side, on the customer side. And it makes sense because you’re a small company, maybe five people, a storage admin, a VMware admin, a network admin, and you got to make sure everything is running all the time and something goes wrong. They’re calling you.

[00:40:14.410] – Ned
Yeah. Ideally, you end up in a role that’s got a little more flexibility and a little more independence. You need to, like you said, take your kids to school or you want to go on a field trip with them, have the flexibility to do that and enjoy being a parent as well as an employee.

[00:40:30.260] – Amy
Exactly.

[00:40:31.070] – Ethan
But being able to be gone, not present on Slack, let’s say, for an hour and not be criticized for it because I sent you a DM and you didn’t respond to me immediately. It’s like, yeah, I have a life. There’s things I got to do. And it’s not babysitting Slack waiting for someone to ask me a question.

[00:40:48.570] – Amy
Right.

[00:40:48.950] – Ethan
But I don’t know that all companies are like that. There’s some of that where you just feel that pressure. I have had those jobs where because of on call related to infrastructure maintenance, I had to have a laptop and a pager with me. Ugh, a pager, going back in time.

[00:41:05.870] – Amy
Yes! I had a pager too!

[00:41:05.870] – Ethan
I couldn’t go to a restaurant with my wife without having the kit with me in the car just in case the pager went off or later on it was the cell phone. And that’s unsustainable. You talked about burnout right at the very top of the interview, Amy. And yeah, that’s how you get there when you never have a chance to disconnect. But it sounds like what you’re saying is that all the companies you’re talking to, everybody’s sensitive to that. I think the pandemic certainly brought that to the fore with the amount of stress people were coping with in their life trying to well, like Ned, I know you got summoned to deal with kids unexpectedly because of the pandemic a lot. That was a thing.

[00:41:46.850] – Ned
Very often, yes. I felt very fortunate to have that flexibility to do that. I can’t imagine someone who or me ten years ago trying to deal with the pandemic and with my job. I don’t know if I would have survived.

[00:42:02.810] – Amy
Right. I don’t think I mean, there was a time I took the batteries out of the pager and through it. I was like, I can’t take this. So yeah, during the pandemic, no way. And I think companies were just hard at the beginning. I know my husband, I was like bringing him food. He was tied to his computer because it was just like you got salespeople who aren’t traveling, so they think every block of your time is available back to back to back to back. It’s like no bio break, like bringing him food. So at least I have the flexibility to keep him alive and then keep the kids elearning. Oh, God, that was horrible. And trying to work.

[00:42:50.690] – Ethan
Amy, I got a parting question for you. I am hearing that the job market for tech talent is pretty much excellent, extraordinary. Hard for companies to find talent. And so if you’ve got some skills, finding a job is pretty doable. Would you agree with that or disagree?

[00:43:08.170] – Amy
Yeah, I think right now, not to be like I’m all this, but I got to interview and I got to choose. I didn’t have to jump at the first available job offered to me. I got to weigh my options and even put some on hold until the right fit came along. So I think don’t cut yourself short. Interview. You might not know everything. They even say interview for the job you want to be in the future. Maybe you can’t do it now, but you grow into it as you are, stumbling over my words here, as you acquire the skills as you grow with the position. So I think people are open to that. So if you’re flexible with pay, you might not get the top tier pay, but they’ll let you come in and you’re eager to learn. Then go for it.

[00:44:02.990] – Ethan
Well, Amy, how can people follow you on the Internet?

[00:44:07.730] – Amy
Yeah, I’m happy to help anyone, whether it’s just getting into a company I used to be at. You know stalk me on LinkedIn. So I’m on LinkedIn as Amy Colyer. I think that’s the URL as well. And then on Twitter, as wyrdgirl, it was my old Yahoo.

[00:44:27.180] – Ethan
You better spell that one.

[00:44:28.420] – Amy
Yeah. W-Y-R-D-G-I-R-L. Yeah, I was like 16 when I picked that name for my email address. And then it translated to Twitter. But now I’m like, let’s keep it. People like, what’s? Wired girl? Forget it. Never mind. Yeah LinkedIn. Twitter. Skylines Academy is still up and alive and everything and running, but I’m not really going to be affiliated with them, obviously, with the Microsoft gig. So I don’t really have a personal blog or anything. So Twitter would be best or LinkedIn.

[00:45:10.750] – Ethan
Perfect. Amy, thanks for being on day two cloud today, and thanks to you for listening in. We have got a tech byte coming up for you next. Another in the Singtel series that we’ve been running about cloud networking, how to design that, how to get your enterprise MPLS hooked up with the cloud properly, and so on. So stay tuned for that.

[00:45:33.410] – Ethan
We are in a six part series with Singtel about cloud networking. That is, how to make your existing wide area network communicate with cloud services in an effective way that maybe your legacy when isn’t able to. Today is part two of six, and we’re chatting with Mark Seabrook, global solutions manager at Singtel, about the complexity of cloud ready networks today. Mark, welcome back. Second time we’ve been able to chat with you. And what is a cloud ready network? Mark, we got to define that because it sounds a little hand wavy and marketing. So give us a little bit of a clue what we’re talking about here with a cloud ready network.

[00:46:06.910] – Mark
Yes, that’s kind of a loaded question. I would say that a lot of corporate networks out there, they aren’t ready for the cloud. So that’s exactly the problem that we’re trying to fix. And we do fix on a daily basis.

[00:46:21.690] – Ned
Throwing some shade those networks.

[00:46:24.270] – Ethan
Well, shots fired, man. I mean, it’s like, okay, I have an existing MPLS SDWAN. It’s been deployed globally. At one point in my career, my title was global Wan manager or something like that. And I know I can get cloud connections plumbed into my MPLS WAN. And this is a world I’m familiar with. I know what these routers do. I built them lovingly. Why do they fall short of being cloud ready? Mark, since you just again, shots fired, most of these networks are not ready for the cloud from your perspective.

[00:46:52.360] – Mark
So it depends on the mission of the customer. But I mean, a lot of traditional MPLS networks, they’re still fantastic for people who just want a very low secure, gluey, sticky connectivity. But if you want to make use of SDWAN, the first packet inspection, cloud breakout, having all the granularity of what you can do with SDWAN, you probably want to get away from MPLS at least at the branch level, a lot of our customers are going to a Twin DIA on a twin SDWAN set up.

[00:47:35.960] – Ethan
Well, let’s back up here, Mark. Let’s back out because you said flexibility is the problem I have. That is my traditional MPLS network that I know and love and can hug the router isn’t good enough because I don’t have access to things like breaking out to some third party service is going to do traffic inspection for me. Is that the point you’re making?

[00:47:55.270] – Mark
Yeah, absolutely. Anybody who has ever worked with a traditional MPLS network knows that if you want to make changes, you’ve got to go through change notifications. You’re dealing with regular vanilla routers on the CE and PE end. As far as cloud is concerned, going from a regular MPLS network with traditional Cisco routers to an SDWAN topology, to me, it’s like going from Cessna 172 to, say, an Airbus. You’ve just got so much more flexibility with what you can do. And a lot of the traditional topologies with MPLS is just not cutting it.

[00:48:40.830] – Ethan
Okay. The point you’re making about the vanilla routers is I can do IP transport, I can get I can do tunnel terminations and this kind of stuff. But when you want to do fancy routing, something that’s not, say, BGP or OSPF or something that’s very deterministic for a path, I don’t have that baked into most of whatever Cisco routers I’ve had sitting around on terminating my MPLS edge for the last decade.

[00:49:09.170] – Mark
Absolutely. And it’s just also from a 10,000 foot overview. So with the biggest frustration with some of our CIOs that we deal with, they don’t have that 10,000 foot overview of an MPLS network.

[00:49:23.280] – Mark
Sure, we’ve got portals, we can show them all sorts of telemetry, but they don’t have that orchestrator type single pane of glass that you would get with an SDWAN provider.

[00:49:37.430] – Ethan
And to be clear, we’re not picking on Cisco. It’s a common denominator everybody can relate to. Cisco will sell you a very robust SDWAN solution in the form of their Viptella acquisition and all of that IP that they’ve brought into some of these routers that do give you some of that flexibility. But I think a bigger point here, Mark. If you’re plumbed into a private MPLS network, then by definition the resources you have access to are limited versus if I do a DIA, direct Internet access circuit now, I can plumb to, in theory, whatever services are out there, hang off the Internet cloud that I can consume on my way to the public cloud.

[00:50:14.320] – Mark
Sure. Absolutely. So typical. You know what we’re seeing with a lot of our SDWAN customers. We’re putting in two DIAs. Maybe we’re putting in two DIAs and an MPLS if it’s that critical of a site. But that allows for the Internet breakout. We can route all of the Internet breakouts directly to a Z Scaler to scrub them for security. We can have all our tunnels going to private data centers, and we just gain a flexibility and an overview and a gooeyness, if that’s a word that you just didn’t have with traditional 4000 series Cisco routers on an MPLS network.

[00:51:00.080] – Ned
Right, I think what you’re really talking about is the user experience. The user experience that you get with SDWAN it’s generally going to be superior to the older MPLS style of managing things, and especially if you’re headed in the cloud direction. The user experience with the cloud sounds like it’s a lot more akin to what you would see with SDWAN than what you would see with the traditional MPLS network.

[00:51:23.350] – Mark
Absolutely. And I mean, a lot of our customers, if they’re running the flavor of SDWAN that they use, they’re running it virtually within a VPC or EC2 instances inside, let’s say AWS. So they’re putting it on a site, on a uCPE box. There really is no difference. It’s just one virtual instance talking to another virtual instance and getting away from MPLS and doing more of a hybrid DIA fiber internet just gives them that flexibility to run with all this new technology.

[00:51:59.360] – Ethan
Isn’t there much of a cost difference these days, Mark? A private MPLS versus DIA? That was a thing for a while, but it feels like costs are somewhat equalized. Is that true?

[00:52:08.610] – Mark
It depends where you go in the world. So, for example, in the US. Yeah. I mean, in the US, DIA fiber internet is a lot cheaper and you’re inundated with providers. If you go to Vietnam or the Southern Philippines, not so much. For example, some places around APAC, Indonesia, you can pay more for a fiber internet than a fiber hand off local loop from an MPLS network.

[00:52:38.790] – Ned
Interesting. Yeah, I actually worked on a project where it was a law firm that had their primary office in North America, but they had a satellite office out in the Philippines doing clerical work for them. And the networking was backhauling everything for Internet back to their location in Philadelphia and then out to the Internet, which was an awful experience for anybody in the Philippines. They could have used you at the time.

[00:53:01.740] – Mark
Sure.

[00:53:04.870] – Ethan
So, Mark, what would you say if I’m a network operator who’s got that private MPLS network that we’ve been talking about? And my solution so far has been I’m just going to map a connection into my private MPLS cloud from the public cloud providers that I’m consuming. So maybe I’ve got a connection from AWS and Azure into my MPLS cloud. Is that that bad? Should I really be rethinking?

[00:53:26.990] – Mark
That depends on your mission. If you want to make use of all of the amazing features that SDWAN provides, then you probably want to look at some Internet breakout. But we do have customers. We’ll work with customers that want to keep MPLS in a certain part of the world and then go to pure Internet with SDWAN in another part of the world and we’ll link them together. We’ve even worked on one particular customer. It was about 100 sites in mainland China on Viptella. We kept those on MPLS within China to get around some of the restrictions and choke points in China, and then we will NNI them or link them into other parts of the world where we’re doing pure internet.

[00:54:15.670] – Ethan
I just had another architectural thought, Mark, that maybe you can answer if I go DIA as opposed to mapping cloud circuits into my private MPLS. Do I also get an advantage with maybe latency profiles, that kind of thing?

[00:54:29.570] – Mark
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, latency is always a tricky one, especially with internet. So we do have around the world our IP transit product, which is called STIX, Singapore telecom, internet exchange. And we can actually do deterministic routing from those gateways. So, for example, in Asia, we do have SLAs for latency and we can guarantee a routing profile based on where that territory is pointing to.

[00:55:01.600] – Ethan
So, Mark, if I’m operating a big MPLS network now, you’re making me rethink architecture and change is hard. That’s the thing. But the point you’re making here is there are different ways to be thinking about network architecture when you are connecting to cloud services. If you expect two things, I think we can summarize this conversation with two things. One, feature flexibility. What can I take advantage of if I do say twin DIA circuits and connect that way and then to performance? Am I going to optimize my performance to and from the public cloud as I consume those services with my old school private MPLS or going over internet? As you said, it can be tricky. But again, options. I can now design something that is optimized for application delivery where if all I’ve got is my old MPLS network, maybe I can’t because the options, the design flexibility just isn’t there.

[00:55:58.050] – Mark
Yes, I totally agree with what you just said there. That’s a pretty good synopsis of what I see out there.

[00:56:05.270] – Ethan
Excellent. Well, Mark Seabrook of Singtel, we thank you for joining us on today’s tech byte. And if people want to reach out to you because they got some questions about the Singtel or moving off of their traditional MPLS, can they get in touch with you?

[00:56:18.460] – Mark
Yeah, absolutely. You can hit me up on LinkedIn under my name.

[00:56:23.020] – Ethan
Excellent.

[00:56:23.670] – Ethan
Thanks for joining us, Mark, and thanks to you out there for listening. This was just part two of a six part series. So we’re going to hear more on building cloud ready networks with Singtel in upcoming episodes. Part three will be in a couple of weeks and we’ll be tackling how SDWAN fits into the cloud networking picture. Sdwan helps get where we need to go, but it is not as easy as you think. So tune in for that in a couple of weeks.

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