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Careers in Tech: Landing DevOps Engineer Role, Will Woodford, Jr. DevOps Engineer at Ultimate Software

Posted on October 30, 2018 by WinnieWinnie

Our student Will Woodford, Jr. DevOps Engineer at Ultimate Software, was able to land a DevOps Engineer role after getting his Linux Essentials Certification! Find out more about his journey and what he’s studying for now below!
Hey Will, what do you do for a living? What is your role?
Hello Winnie! I am a Junior DevOps Engineer at Ultimate Software for our cloud platform. My team and I ensure that our development teams can deploy their applications and keep them running reliably.
How did you get into that?
I wish I had a better story but, I received my Linux Essentials Cert, and the position became available and I applied. When I heard back that I was going to go through the interview process, I was super nervous and studied like crazy for two weeks prior to the interviews. Everything worked out in the interviews, and I was offered the position.
How long have you been in the industry?
Oh wow, I’ve never really thought about how long I’ve been in tech, but my very first job in tech was right out of high school in 2003, so around 15 years.
What technologies do you work with on a daily basis?
A lot, lol, but to name a few: Ubuntu, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, OpenStack, Grafana, Kibana, Gitlab, Bitbucket, Postman, and Jira.
How has the industry, or even the technologies, changed since you first started working in it?
What still blows my mind is how mobile phone technology has changed from when I first started in tech. Back then we had Palm, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile, and now we have Apple and Android. These devices are essentially mini portable computers that are more powerful than the PCs of that time.
What are you training on now? Why?
I’m currently training on the LFCSA (Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator). I want to become an expert in Linux, and I believe this certification will help me get closer to that goal.
How are you utilizing your Raspberry Pi to make the most out of your training?
I have a side project that I’m working on, which consists of a 4 Raspberry Pi cluster which will be running Docker and Kubernetes.
Why Raspberry Pi?
I had four criteria when selecting the platform I would use for my Docker/K8 project:

  1. Price
  2. Power Requirement
  3. Space
  4. Noise

I first looked at used server equipment from eBay which was inexpensive, but it takes up a lot of space; they’re noisy and power hungry. Then I looked at the Intel NUCs which take up less space, they’re power efficient, less noisy than the used servers, but expensive. Finally, I found out that I could use the Raspberry Pi for my project, which met all my criteria. The entire Raspberry Pi cluster fits on my desk, uses very little power, runs silent, and the entire project cost less than one Intel NUC; also, it looks awesome.
What challenges do you come across when training/learning in general?
Staying motivated and finding the time are my biggest challenges.
Congrats on obtaining your Linux Essentials Certification! What was the most valuable skill/piece of knowledge you learned from the Linux Essentials course?
Thank you! First and foremost, getting in the habit of reading the man pages, as they contain so much helpful information. Also, everything in Linux is a file, and understanding that helped me demystify Linux.
If you could give another student some advice or tips for passing that certification, what would that be?
Read the man pages, I know I just mentioned that, but the man pages are honestly your best resource. Practice using Linux and the command line every day. Actively participate while the instructor is going over the lessons. For me, this helped me retain the material better than just watching the videos alone.
Advice for getting the most out of Linux Academy?
Sure, a few things; pick a Learning Path that aligns with what you want to do in tech, set up a course schedule to get reminder emails, and use the Linux Academy labs/servers, they’re awesome!
What keeps you motivated to learn?
The Linux Academy schedule emails, lol! Honestly, I struggle with motivation as work/life happens, but sometimes I just need to take a breather and remember why I got started in the first place. Doing that helps me get motivated all over again.
What is your advice for somebody looking to start a career in the IT industry?
Great Question! “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Shout out to my friend Ta for that quote. Starting a career in tech is going to feel very overwhelming, and that feeling doesn’t ever go away, but the more skills you gain, the more comfortable you get with that feeling.
What do you enjoy most about your career now?
I enjoy that I get to work with all the amazing technologies that I’ve read about on the internet. It’s challenging for sure, especially considering all the technologies I must work with, but it keeps me interested every day.
How has Linux Academy changed your life?
Using Linux Academy has provided the training I needed to get my current position, which has allowed me to grow my career.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to travel, and I’ve been around the world one time so far. I hope to continue traveling as much as I can, for as long as possible.
Favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Muhammad Ali: “I don’t count my sit-ups; I only start counting when it starts hurting because they’re the only ones that count.”


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