Less than 12 months ago Scott Ankin joined us as a cloud engineering graduate. Today he’s a valued member of the team who confidently handles complex tasks. He also takes part in grad fairs, spreading the word about cloud career opportunities, so we asked his advice for people considering this path.
When Scott joined us in September 2021, he was just finishing his MSc in advanced computer science at Swansea University. Balancing his new job with his studies demonstrated the can-do attitude that’s helped Scott make such good progress this year. Technical skills will take you so far, but the way you approach challenges and opportunities is equally important.
A steep learning curve
While he had a strong academic background in computer science, Scott was new to the world of cloud.
“I hadn’t done much in the way of cloud computing or DevOps in my degree and master’s,” Scott explains. “I was interested in network security and this role sounded promising. Switching from object oriented work to declarative programming required a change in approach and mindset, but was an interesting challenge. To help, I had loads of training as well as support and mentoring from the team. Shadowing inception meetings with customers really helped in understanding how it all fits together. This gave me a deeper practical understanding of how cloud solutions architects and engineers design and manage cloud infrastructures.”
Initially, Scott completed the Azure Fundamentals and AWS Cloud Practitioner certifications. This gave him a good foundation in the principles of cloud computing. While the AWS course was classroom driven, the Azure course was self-taught; so he had to be proactive about seeking guidance from colleagues when needed.
Since then, Scott has joined one of our Azure-focused teams and is now developing specialist skills for this cloud platform. He recently gained Microsoft Azure Administrator certification and is working towards Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. In addition, he completed the Cloud Automation 101 Course from our Academy. This introduces advanced practices such as cloud automation and involves hands-on work with pipelines.
Learning it’s OK to get things wrong
Scott’s line manager is Lead Azure Engineer Bob Larkin. Bob regularly challenges Scott to apply his new skills in real-world situations. One task involved figuring out an approach for the auto-remediation of alerts.
“Giving graduates difficult sandbox projects stretches them and embeds the ‘fail fast’ mindset that’s so integral to what we do,” Bob explains. “Cloud technology is continually evolving, so engineers need to be good at problem solving and open to trying new things. Our graduates often come up with brilliant solutions that add value to the team as well as building their confidence. Scott has really excelled here, making some great contributions to our Inner Source repository.”
Bob also highlights the importance of being able to take honest, constructive feedback. He aims to create a psychologically safe team environment where everybody reviews each other’s work as part of their ongoing learning and development. This approach has helped Scott build resilience when faced with challenging projects:
“I’ve learnt to accept that getting things wrong is often part of the process for getting things right. There’s always a logical solution for any challenge we face. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to get there, but you have to persevere and be open minded.”
A bright future in cloud and DevOps
According to Bob, after ten months ramping up his cloud and DevOps knowledge, Scott is now ‘rocking it’. He’s just completing his first major engagement delivering a data governance solution to Azure using Terraform IaC and YAML pipelines in Azure DevOps. This delivery has included some complex High Availability and Disaster Recovery features, something Scott has been instrumental in developing.
“In a matter of months, Scott’s gone from having zero knowledge of Azure to configuring complex resources using Infrastructure as Code. He has the confidence to take a more active role in client meetings and he’s also a super nice guy. We’re really pleased to have him working with us, and he’s set to achieve great things.”
If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in this piece about converting to a career in tech. Amber Osborne graduated in English, but she took a computing conversion course and joined at the same time as Scott.