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From security guard to DevOps — the success story of the switcher

Dawid Klocek from Poland worked in the field of security and safety for 13 years, but decided to radically change his profession. He devoted all his free time to study and, as a result, in 2 years he rose to the position of lead. Dawid talked about his career path in an interview on — we have key excerpts you’ll want to read.

DevOps Developer Dawid Klocek

The beginning of the path

— I worked in the field of security and safety for about thirteen years. I defended various valuables (mostly money), worked for a company that provided security for military facilities, and was also a security guard for a business center. Working in the field of security is often associated with great stress, the need to constantly resolve non-standard situations and communicate with different people. My last job was in the office of an IT company. That's when the turning point in my life came.

I have a technical education, and in general I like all sorts of computer stuff. Working in the office of an IT company, in my spare time I sometimes helped the guys with unloading and connecting various equipment, as well as with arranging workplaces for employees. One day a colleague came to me and offered to try me in the technical support team. I decided to do it, took several courses, prepared for CCNA certification from Cisco, and studied PHP. But then my circumstances developed in such a way that my thoughts about working in the support service had to be postponed indefinitely.

I continued to work hard and study during my work breaks: I studied Java, wrote several small applications on GitHub, dug into various libraries. While doing that, I came to the realization that I am not much interested in programming in the classical sense, but more interested in networks and infrastructure. Then I met someone who suggested that I consider DevOps. At that point, I didn't even know what it was.

Start in DevOps

— I didn't attend any courses; I decided to figure this out on my own. At first, I watched general videos on YouTube to understand what kind of profession it is, what nuances it has, etc. Then, I discovered a lot of programs on Udemy, and later, I discovered LinkedIn Learning.

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— If I needed help, I turned to friends from the IT company where I worked. It wasn't easy at first, because I didn't even know how to formulate my questions.

With all the interruptions, the learning process took me about four years. During that time, I learned the specifics of working with networks, PHP, Java, Python — a little bit of everything. I can't say that I had any fundamental knowledge in any one of these disciplines, but my approach gave me a base and set me up for the right way of thinking. With this knowledge, I mastered the basics of working as a system engineer in about six months. In 2021, I was interviewed for the position of junior system engineer at EPAM.

Throughout this time, I continued to study during breaks at work, in my free time, and sometimes at night. I devoted some time to cloud computing, shared Amazon web services, figured out deployment strategies, and learned how to work with Git.

Career growth

— After seven months, I became one of the best specialists in the team. I decided that I could try to grow up to the middle level to fully focus on working as a system engineer. Several interviews followed, one of which, unfortunately, I failed due to ignorance of Kubernetes. Of course, I was upset, but I gained valuable experience and realized my weaknesses. I focused on self-improvement, not on the fact of failure.

After that defeat, I successfully passed another interview, got on a new project, and finally got what I wanted — the position of a system engineer. I recently passed another certification; now I am a senior system engineer. It took me two years to go from junior to my current position. I am very proud of this result.

DevOps responsibilities

— The key tasks of a system engineer are the development, implementation, and support of digital systems of an organization. In simple terms, I write code to create the digital infrastructure for our clients. This is a fairly general description. In real life, there are many functions and tasks. It all depends on the specific project.

I am currently working on a project for a large client. My main tasks are related to working with libraries. I need to link what we've done to the work of our other team. To some extent, this can be called migration, but in the case of infrastructure, everything is a little more complicated.

Tips for switchers

— To succeed in your profession, you need to love what you do. Predisposition, temperament, the right mindset, and experience are also necessary. We are all different. It won't be easy for everyone to get into IT. And this is normal. So, before you rush into the whirlpool of mastering a new profession, thoroughly understand its basics. Try to understand what interests you personally. For example, DevOps includes a wide variety of specializations and areas: CI/CD, cloud, containers, etc. There are a huge number of options. Take some time to delve into the topic you think you want to focus on, watch a YouTube video, and take some basic courses on it. Who knows, maybe you will realize that Front-end or business analysis is more appealing to you.

I also want everyone to find people who are ready to help and support them with advice. Most importantly, don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for help if necessary.

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