The Art of Network Engineering

Ep 125 - Bearded IT Dad

August 02, 2023 A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Lexie Episode 125
Ep 125 - Bearded IT Dad
The Art of Network Engineering
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The Art of Network Engineering
Ep 125 - Bearded IT Dad
Aug 02, 2023 Episode 125
A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Lexie

This week we talk to the Bearded IT Dad, Dakota Snow! Dakota talks to us about his career, and how he rose to a management position, as well as the challenges he faced while doing so. We also discuss what inspired him to start creating content, and ultimately his YouTube Channel, The Bearded IT Dad!

More from Dakota:

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Show Notes Transcript

This week we talk to the Bearded IT Dad, Dakota Snow! Dakota talks to us about his career, and how he rose to a management position, as well as the challenges he faced while doing so. We also discuss what inspired him to start creating content, and ultimately his YouTube Channel, The Bearded IT Dad!

More from Dakota:

We are supported by sponsors like: Forward Networks!

Forward Networks delivers a mathematical model (or “digital twin”) of the network that enables advanced security and reliability across complex on-prem and multi-cloud environments.

Visti today!

Find everything AONE right here:

This is the Art of Network Engineering podcast.

In this podcast, we'll explore tools, technologies, and technology people. We aim to bring you information that will expand your skill sense and toolbox and share the stories of fellow network engineers. Welcome to the Art of Network Engineering. I am Tim Bertino and I am joined by a good friend of mine who I've actually just seen in person recently for the second time ever. Lexi Cooper, what's happening, Lexi? Hey, Tim. Yeah, that was so much fun.

Juniper was the full name now. I keep mixing it up in my head. Juniper Enterprise Analyst. Analyst and Influencer Summit. Yes, thank you. 2023. Yeah, that was a blast. Yeah, it was a blast. Thanks to Juniper for having us there. Gave us a reason to see each other in person again for the first time in over a year. It was awesome. I do think I need to give up on humor though, because it, and it's all,

Get this, it's all Andy's fault. It's always Andy's fault. Andy couldn't make it to the summit, right? So we decided that we wanted some way to have him there. So my lovely wife printed a picture of Andy, a nice 8x10. I put it in a frame, took it all the way there. First time Andy screwed me with this whole thing is I wasn't even thinking, right? I took some pictures of it. It was funny. I went back to the hotel room.

I wasn't even thinking. My dumb ass puts the picture standing up, because it's in a frame, puts a picture on the nightstand in between the two beds. I come back to the hotel room the next day and obviously housekeeping has been there. And I walk in and I see it. I'm like, oh shit. I probably look like the weirdest dude in the world having this picture of a grown ass man on the nightstand.

This man must really love this man whose picture he has on his nightstand. You know what? That is true. Is it not? It is. That is not inaccurate. You love Andy. But then housekeeping took it a step further. And they left me a note. I think they were just being kind. I think they did it to everybody. They left me a... I see there was a sticky note pad and on the very top sticky note, there was a note that said, have a nice day.

and it was attached right to Andy. It's like, yeah, they think I'm a freak. Was it like covering his face? No, I was just sitting right in front of him on the frame. And then, so that was the first time Andy messed me up. Second time, the rest of you were involved. It was later that night, we wanted to get a group picture of Andy, of us with Andy. So we were sitting by the bar, we had it on the table, we were all around it. We thought it was a cute- A little bit drunk. Well, maybe a little bit.

We thought it was the cutest thing in the world. We take this picture, we put it on Twitter and immediately people start responding Thinking that Andy is dead and this picture is a memorial of his life. I'm like I can't do funny anymore I just screwed up. I know that was that was truly the funniest besides the juniper the commercial that juniper showed us That was the funniest thing about that trip for sure. Yeah, we had a good time out of it. All right, P Andy

I digress. I cut you off. How are you? No, you're fine. I'm doing well. Had a very busy day today. Glad to be here with my pals chatting. How are you doing, Tim? I'm good. I'm good. I'm glad I got that Andy story off my chest. I always seem to have to do that. I am too. It's a good story. Yeah. Joining Lexi and I, this is a bit of a crossover. We have world-class squasher.

all around cloud enthusiast and American werewolf of Sydney, the BGP main Chris Miles. What's happening, Chris? Hello. Yeah. Thanks for having me. You've kind of inspired me. I think now when I start traveling, I'm going to take a picture of Andy. You might as well show, you know, spread the love wherever we can. You know, I think that's a good idea. That's a great idea. We should all travel with Andy.

It's like, what do you call it? Like a flat Stanley? Is that what his name is? But a flat Andy? A flat Andy. There you go. Yeah. Perfect. But yeah, things are going well here, man. Well, Chris, we thank you for joining us. And now let's introduce, we have another guest with us. So first off, we have hit the freaking jackpot lately with guest names. So a while back we had Jeremy Stretch. Clearly.

clearly the secret identity name of a superhero. Then we had Kaiser Clark, I think I called him a secret agent slash fighter pilot. And now we have Dakota Snow, which obviously a spy who's been burned by his host country because he learned the secrets finally that he was never supposed to know. He learned the truth and now he's on the run. So Dakota Snow, welcome to the show and how does it feel to be on the run? It feels good, it feels good.

Keeps me on my toes. We're going to uncover all that today. We appreciate you joining. I think our listeners will find you very familiar. You're a very prolific YouTuber and podcaster. So why don't you give us a little bit of a background. How did you originally get into technology? What was, what was kind of the bug that bit you and where are you now? Well, first off again, thank you for having me. I got a unique origin story. I guess you could say. So before I got into tech.

I was a bulldozer operator out of all the trades. Yeah. I'd worked production jobs all my life. Uh, I was a bulldozer operator and you know, I was driving the bulldozer super late at night. It was like three in the clock. And I just had this overwhelming feeling that I hate my job. I am so sick of doing work just to put food on the table and keep a roof over your, my head, my family's head. And don't get me wrong. I, I love my family. I want to support them. But at the time I was just like, why, why am I doing this? And.

I kind of thought of like, okay, what else would I do? And I thought back to high school and I was super fortunate. My high school actually had a Cisco CCNA course. So right off high school, I was CCNA certified and I'm like, you know what? I want to get into the technology. I wanted to get into tech. I've always had a huge passion for tech. So I went to my wife and said, look, you know, this is what I want to do. It might require us to even move for us to be able to find a job, but this is what I'd like to do. And she supported me through the whole journey.

So I started kind of doing some studying, some research, you know, got some certifications and ended up landing a job in the IT field. And, uh, it was, it was a dream job, to be honest with you. It was, I think one of the luckiest first jobs I could, anyone could get. Um, I was an IT support specialist starting out for a hotel company. I got a ride in private corporate jets where I traveled to different hotels. Company vehicles were like Porsches, Teslas and stuff. Super, super fun. Uh, but it did require a lot of travel. So.

Um, I ended up leaving that job after some time, landed a job, um, working for a local ISP and within my first 90 days there, they said, you know what, you're doing such a good job, we're going to end up promoting you to director of network operations. So that's where I'm at now. And, uh, during the journey, I started my YouTube channel, the bearded IT dad to give back to the community and help motivate other people to pursue their dreams in technology.

Can I ask right off the bat, you mentioned that you graduated high school with a CCNA, right? But then after that, you didn't work in networking right out of high school or anything like that. Okay. I'm curious why not? Was it just not something you were interested at the time or? Girls. I was more interested in girls at the time, just to be 100% honest. That's fair. And it's unfortunate because back in the day, the CCNA was sought after even more than it is currently. It was like...

99% job placement out once you had a CCNA. And I went to college, I flunked out of college because of girls and I just started doing jobs to support myself and I don't know, I just didn't even think about going back to really what I love. I just started doing, went into autopilot and started doing what I had to do. And it took me a long time to come back around and realize I needed to do what I love.

Okay, that's totally fair. I feel like a lot of people probably, well, I definitely started doing stuff like that, right? I graduated and I was just like, I guess I'll just do whatever. I don't know. You know, when you're that young, it's like, it's tough, right? To make a decision for the rest of your life. So it's really cool to hear how you moved into tech. So was there like a pivot point for you when you said, you know, you were working as a bulldozer operator, right? And you said, I am so done with it. Like, was there a moment?

Or was it more of like a slow realization? No, it hit me like a ton of bricks. You know, I was working late and I don't know really what triggered it, but I started getting super bad anxiety about it. Like how much I hated my job and wanted to get out. And like it was crumpling anxiety. It made it really difficult to just function as a human being. And when I finally came to the decision that I'm gonna get into tech,

It was just like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Even before I landed a job, it took me a couple of months to, you know, start figuring out what I wanted to do in tech, you know, start applying for jobs and getting out of networking. But, um, as soon as I decided this is what I wanted to do and I had the support of my family, um, it was a no brainer, just it all flowed like it should. Yeah. I'm curious. So when you're in high school and you're in like, uh, the CCNA course in high school, which first of all, that's amazing that

that you had that opportunity because I wish that was presented to me when I was in high school. But so did networking kind of like come naturally to you? Because if I, if I'll be honest, if you proposed working in networking to me when I was in high school, I would have been like, hell no. Like I do not want to do that. Like I wasn't a very tech focused person when I was younger. Like I didn't build computers. I didn't do any of this stuff. So I came in like kind of fresh, right? Never really worked with technology. So

Were you drawn to it younger and then did you kind of refine that passion when you came back or how did that work? I was. You know, I had a really good instructor at our high school that was really passionate about technology. I was originally in my freshman year, I was in his electronics class and then my teacher came to me and was like, hey, you're doing really good. I think you should enroll in our Cisco class. I think you'd be a natural. And...

I don't know. It did just come to me. It just clicked. I understood everything. You know, we're talking back in the NetAcad days and I remember my instructor telling me wireless N is never going to catch on. So insecure. I remember him telling me that and but it just, I enjoyed it. I instantly like back in the day, you couldn't go out and buy used equipment because it was still crazy expensive. So we had a racket our school where I'd go in on my lunch breaks and work.

on lab, you know, on the lab environment there to practice and learn things. And, um, I don't know, it was just, it just came easy to me. So when I decided to get back into tech, you know, initially I kind of thought I'm going to get into cybersecurity. And I think almost everyone that is looking to get into IT kind of thinks that in all honesty, and then they realize, Oh, it's not as cool and sexy as it sounds. And then I thought back to my high school days of doing networking. I'm like, well, I'm going to do networking. And when I first got my first job.

you know, as an IT support specialist, I was doing a lot of help desking things, you know, I was resetting tickets and stuff, but I really made an effort since on talking about my passion for networking. And by the time I left that company two years later, I was designing the complete IT infrastructure for all our brand new hotels we were building. I was sitting into the meetings with the engineers and product managers and the construction companies and I'm like, okay, this is where our APs are going. I designed them in 3D space

you know, calculate the signal penetration through the walls and everything and just ran wild with. So does that answer your question there? Yeah, it does. Yeah. Yeah, man. I can't imagine what it was like working in like the hotel industry because like I did, like I said, when I was, when I was doing tech support when I was younger, I was in the network operation center there. And a lot of our clients were these high end hotels and a lot of these like...

you know, TV broadcast systems. That was like the bane of my existence, man. Like troubleshooting TV for hotel patrons. I can only imagine. IPTV and... Right, yeah. Yeah. IPTV and then we're looking at set top boxes for like, you know, Google has their own like streaming service in a way for hotel industries. Like a Chromecast just designed for the hotels. Right. That was a lot of fun, so. So you've spent some time, obviously,

is a deeply technical person and you said your role now is director of network operations. So are you in a leadership role, managing people? Do you still have your hands on the tech? What does that role look like? So I kind of have, I work for a unique organization. We're a local internet provider. We deliver fiber optic internet to the home. And we're a small municipality owned organization. So I get to be kind of a jack of all trades where

I am in a leadership role where I'm managing teams and working with vendors and, you know, our providers, but I also am still daily getting my hands dirty, especially, you know, during outages. You know, we had an instance last winter where we had a super bad rainstorm come in, came in and a lot of our techs were out and I ended up having to go hop in one of our bucket trucks and...

go around and we had these, we were just deploying these network switches for a community wifi project in these, um, like boxes up on a pole and we found out the boxes were leaking and the switches were shorting out. We had like thousands of dollars equipment. And so I go to my boss, I'm like, you know, I've been in a bucket truck before I've have heavy equipment experience. Let me just go out and I'm going to go round up all these switches. So that's kind of a unique situation where someone that would normally be stuck at a desk job.

you know, not get to touch all the tech had to go out in the field and get my hands dirty. So I really enjoy that, that not all organizations are like that, especially as you start getting into these larger organizations, you tend to get really siloed off where with these smaller organizations, you get a lot more variety. I'm curious. So something that stuck out to me immediately is like you were in the trenches and then all of a sudden after like a very short period of time relatively, you were director of IT ops.

I think I feel like that is an unusual thing for somebody after only just a little bit of time to move there. And so that's, that's an awesome accomplishment. But I think probably my first question is how did you do that? How did you get, how did you get all the necessary experience and knowledge to go from like network engineer all the way up to director, you know, for a period of time? It's not a common case scenario. You know, after I was even hired, my boss came to me and said, look, you know,

There was other people with, you know, bachelor's degrees and that definitely had more qualifications. And when we called them to turn them down, they were quite upset. Like, how could there be someone more qualified than me? And I, here I am with seriously, the only certifications I really have is a comp, you know, comp TAA plus currently still, and like a Cisco Meraki certification, you know, how is someone like me able to land that side of the job, um, but you know, it's, it all came down to my drive, motivation and my teamwork.

You know, um, my boss saw in something in me that I didn't even see myself that how I was a good team player. I took full pride in ownership in the network operation center when I was working in there. Um, you know, he just saw like this diamond in a rough, I guess, not to toot my own horn too much there, but, um, I, I made it my mission to know every possible in and out of every piece of equipment we had. And that, that didn't go unnoticed. You know, I didn't.

I wasn't doing it intentionally to like try to impress him. I mean, I was a new hire, so I guess I was trying to impress him, but not, I didn't know there was an opportunity to move up into a director level position. Yeah. So did he, did he approach you with this offer? Like I think you should go for this. He did. He actually, so I was sitting down at my 90 day review and the position technically truly didn't even exist. There was some restructuring in the company.

had left some things, you know, vacated for a long time. And I'm sitting here with him at my 90 day review, which was longer than 90 days. I was at the company for a couple months at the time. He was like, you know, you've come in and exceeded every expectation that we have set, you know, in front of you, every goal, and you've really taken pride in ownership. And that is someone I've been, you know, that's what I've been looking for for a long time for this Network Operations Center. And I would like to, you know, I would like to know what you would think about.

potentially be in, you know, moving up into a director level mission. And to be honest with you, I was speechless. I didn't know what to think. I was shocked and super excited and not trying to show any of it at the same time. You know, I'm trying not to show all my cards and I'm like, yeah, that would be interesting. I think I could do that. And so we, you know, he, it was drinking by a fire hose. You know, like you, like you said, you know, I didn't have the experience and all the knowledge.

Um, so I was at quite the disadvantage. I was learning on the fly and there were situations I had to make sure I was prepared for, you know, when, you know, we're having hard down outages and, you know, I have several cities. Like if, if something goes out of my network operation center, we're talking several cities, several 911 emergency dispatchers, they don't have their connection, phone lines, internet all go down and that all rests on my shoulder. So I had to quickly learn and study up.

to prepare for these situations. I reached out to our tech department and started getting communication lines set up there. And just, I made it my mission to do the best I could. And it's been working for two years so far, so I must have been doing something right. That's awesome. Wow. Very cool. Yeah. I think there's a lot to be said for that in the whole culture of organizations. We've brought this up before. I mean, you can have...

Two or more people going for the same job. You could have someone who's just completely technically advanced that you know is going to have a hard time getting along with people. They may have a hard time finding motivation, but they're really smart. And, but you could have somebody else who may be a little less seasoned, not as knowledgeable, but they are asking all the questions. They're volunteering for all the things and they're able to communicate with teammates and the customers. It seems that we hear time and time again that

second person is the one who's going to get the chance more often because while we all work in technology, it's so much more than that. Technology is just a piece of it and you have to be a communicator. You have to play well with others. You have to understand the vision and the mission of the organization. So that's something that we never want to just gloss over. And it's cool that you were given that chance and have really grabbed onto it because I just go back to the whole...

culture thing. And if you can get into an organization where they're going to invest in you and they really kind of just put it on you to figure out your path, as long as you are contributing to the organization, that's how you retain people, right? That's how you grow your career. That's how you grow an organization. And I say it all the time on my YouTube channel, gone are the days of the basement IT department, the dimly lit room that smells like old pizza boxes and dirty socks.

IT is customer service oriented, no matter what position you're in. You have to be able to communicate with people. That's the most important skill you can have. And if you are a good communicator, all the other skills can be taught on the job. So if you can communicate with people, communicate with non-technical people, you're going to go super far in this career. Definitely. Yeah. You're a content creator, right? You have a podcast, YouTube channel.

What do you have anything else going on? I'm spitballing. No, we saw, I have a YouTube channel called the bearded IT dad. That's where like most of my content creation all evolves around. We're on tick tock, you know, pretty much all the social media platforms. We do have a podcast that we just started up recently where we're interviewing IT professionals that, uh, and getting their advice, because I don't know it all.

I've only been in the field for four plus years and there's so many great stories and information out there that, you know, and advice I can't share. So I've started bringing on those people. But it's all been about... I'll go ahead. Which piece came first? Was it YouTube? You said you just started a podcast, right? Yep. YouTube was my first bit there. I started on YouTube and, you know, it was actually

When I first got into tech, I'm so sorry about the dog barking in the background. When I first got into tech, I watched a lot of YouTube videos to kind of learn a lot of the skills. And one of the YouTubers I watched convinced me actually to start my YouTube channel. He's like, you know, you would be a great teacher. You just have a way of describing things. I think you should create a YouTube channel. I'm like, oh no, I don't want to be on camera. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought of it as the best way to learn something is to teach it.

Um, and the main thing I, I focused on was my soft skills first and, you know, which was the ability to talk to the camera and knowing that potentially tens of thousands of people are going to be watching this. Um, once I got over that, you know, fear, I started working on other things and, uh, from, it went on from there. Okay. So your motivation was to, was to kind of instruct and teach people. Yep. Absolutely. Okay. I gotta say that's.

I don't know if we've ever talked about it from quite that angle before where like the kind of you just said, you're working on your soft skills and how you did that was teaching through YouTube. I'm not sure we've ever actually totally like hit that nail on the head exactly here on the podcast. Yeah, like it's, it is a great way to practice your soft skills, just getting in front of a camera and talking. It can potentially probably be scarier than like talking one-on-one with people or even in a like a group.

It can. Because of that audience. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And, you know, I started off with just doing recorded videos and because I felt that was easier. But then I stepped up into live streams where you had to start thinking on the fly. You had people responding and commenting to any mistakes you made and trying, you know, which took it to another level. Which is always fun. Yeah. So, you know, I learned how to start adapting on the fly and having things prepared. And that really helped because...

know, we've all been there where we have that, you know, C level person come into your office and ask a really pressing question that you might not even have the answer to. You got to be able to handle the situation in a way that they're going to be satisfied with whatever response you give them. Because you'll learn quickly. If the big bosses are happy, your boss is going to be happy with you. You know, and I live through that, my organization, you know, I quickly made friends

I talked to them in a way that they would understand that I wasn't talking down to them. And I just learned to talk, think quickly on my feet. And that goes a long way. Definitely good skill to have. Yeah. I think that's pretty admirable that you decided to jump into content creation after, as you said, only being in the field for a few years. Because I've been here for like 13 plus years and I just decided to maybe start doing it.

And I had the help of all these guys to kind of give me a plateau to jump off of. Right. So I was like, you know, at least, at least I can ride their coattails and I don't have to, you know, deal with, deal with all the negative aspects alone. Um, but yeah, you kind of just jumped in with that. I'm assuming you don't have like a team or anything like that. So you kind of, what, what motivated you to, to make that switch? It was more, more about telling your story or giving back. What was the main motivator there? The main motivation was it's always been about giving back to the community.

You know, it was YouTubers that, you know, helped convince me to get my start in the IT field. You know, it was late night watching YouTube videos as I was trying to get into the IT field that kind of gave me the motivation that, hey, I actually can do this, you know, and helped me make that switch. So when I got into the IT field, I wanted to be that for someone else. And, you know, creating these YouTube videos is really, you know, at first I started just creating basic videos, talking about the different certifications out there. Then I started, you know, doing,

holiday giveaways where like last year we did a holiday giveaway where we gave away like, you know, vouchers for certifications, one year's descriptions to online learning platforms. We gave away $50,000 worth of training material back to the community. And it was all around just trying to give other people that leg up to get started, you know, to conquer that fear. Like, you know, it's very intimidating to make a career change, especially

If you've been in a career for a long time and like you have a sure thing, it's, it's terrifying to take that step out, you know, that leap of faith into the unknown start all over again. So if I can give someone that little bit of a nudge that, Hey, this isn't that bad. This is doable. You don't have to have these certifications to land a job. Anyone can get started in the tech field. If they're determined enough, that's what I want to do. And it's slowly evolved. Now I do career coaching and

It was interesting, like the very first career coaching session I did with someone, they had been searching for a job for months. No luck. They'd gone on interviews and turned down. I sat down and did a career coaching session with him. And yeah, we spent an hour going over his resume and talking about a game plan for his future. I was on a Monday. That Friday, he called me. He's like, Hey, I have five different interviews lined up. And yeah, so it was just like super rewarding. And it just cemented in my mind. This is what I meant to do.

So let's highlight a couple of these YouTube videos to give some folks a sneak peek. I believe both of these that I wanted to discuss are fairly new. The first one is top five tech support things. I wish I knew when I started. Can you run down a few of those for us? Yeah, I literally just released that one today. So the number one thing I tell everyone is you don't need IT certifications to apply for that very first job in the IT. It's a big misconception.

I hear a lot of people come to me like, hey, I want to get into tech. I'm going to get this, this, this certification. And then I'm going to apply for a job. And I always tell them, no, that's the absolute wrong way to do it. If anything that might even hurt you in the job market, what you need to do is start applying for jobs first thing, because you don't a lot of times need a certification to land that entry level help desk job. You just need to be a good communicator like we were talking about. And then once you get into that initial job,

start studying for your certifications for that next level job that you want to get. So that's one of my biggest things I tell everyone. And you know, I'm proof of it. I was able, when I first got my first job, I was studying for the A plus, I didn't even have the A plus yet. So I had no degree, no IT certifications, no prior work. But the biggest thing that's going to give you a leg up is that work experience. So the sooner you can start working in the tech field, the better.

One of the other things I let people know is, you know, this IT is a high stress job sometimes, especially when, you know, stuff doesn't work, you know, when the system goes down at three o'clock in the morning, or even worse, it goes down at lunchtime and your payment processor goes offline and you got your boss breathing down your neck. Why isn't this working? So it really helps. It makes a difference knowing that going in that you're going to have those situations. And it's not always like this, but

Just to be able to prepare yourself, get yourself in a proper mental state is really key to avoiding burnout. Burnout is actually a bigger deal than a lot of people think in the IT field. A lot of times, especially if you're working for a bigger organization, tasks can become really repetitive. You start doing the same thing over and over again, and you just start dreading going to work. And I reached that in my tech career field already. I got to a point where I started to dread coming to work, and I kind of took a second, I'm like, wait a minute.

Why am I unhappy? I made this career change to continue being happy. And so I made a pivot into the job position I have now. And it's just something you need to be conscious of at all times that mental health is something that I don't think it's talked about enough in the IT field, but if you create systems and plans, it really shouldn't be that big of an impact to you. It's good advice. The repetition part really speaks to me.

Um, just the other day I was whining on Twitter about having to do something 200 times in the space of an hour and it was the most annoying thing ever. But that's what automation is for, right? It's here to take away all of our burnout and deliver us from terrible repetitive tasks. I like the advice on not necessarily waiting until you quote, think you're ready to try to jump into something.

Because you said the experience is huge. And even if you're wanting to continue education and go after certifications, if you find that right organization with the good culture, you can find that those companies will invest in you and maybe pay for training material, maybe pay for certification exams, give you time to, to study on the clock potentially. So yeah, don't, don't wait for the perfect thing. Um, in, in just jump in when you can. Not to mention like on the job experience, we all know that

That's probably the most valuable thing you see that on every job posting, right? That they want that. But yeah, another thing I like that what you said is like, you touched on your content you're putting out. You're not putting out like the most like overly technical videos or anything like that. You're more focused on kind of soft skills, getting into the market, how to navigate the market as well, the job market. And I think that's really cool because that feels like it's kind of representative of how you play to your strengths to get to a director position, right?

You know, you have to, you have to be comfortable and not, not being the most technical, you know, the expert in certain things, but if you have the ability to empower people, mobilize people like that, that that's worth its weight in gold. Right. And I think that probably helped you get where you're, where you got in such a short time and, um, uh, and then, and then you're, you know, kind of taking that and putting it into your content. So I think that's, I think that's really interesting. Absolutely. And another thing I want to kind of add onto this is, you know,

You're not expected to know at all, especially when you're just starting out on organization. So many people are scared that like, we call it imposter syndrome in the tech field. And I think almost everyone who at some point in their career in the tech field has dealt with imposter syndrome, which means like, gosh, any day they're going to figure out that I'm a complete idiot, I don't know what I'm doing. And that's not the case. They, you know, your hiring manager, when they hire you, they know exactly what they're getting it to be honest.

You know, most hiring managers understand that you're not going to know it all. But the key thing is they want to know your troubleshooting abilities. How are you going to figure it out? You know, during your interview, don't stress out if you get asked a question that you don't know the answer or two say, you know what, sorry, I don't know how that works, but let me tell you how I would go find those and then go and walk them through your trouble setting, your troubleshooting mindset, explain to them how you're going to figure out that problem. A lot of times that's exactly what those hiring managers are looking for.

They want to see that you have the ability, the knowledge on how to find answers and the drive and willingness to figure it out. They don't want to hire someone that like, I don't know how that works. Escalate to tier three. You know, no one wants that. They want someone who is a go getter and is going to figure it out. So don't be scared that you don't know everything. No one knows everything and no one could be an expert on anything with how fast the technology feels advancing. Just be, have the drive and willingness to learn. You're going to do great. Yeah. I've heard that too on.

interviews where the interviewers will ask questions that they know that people most likely aren't going to know the answers to, but they want to see how they're going to react. They want to see if they're going to tell the truth, if they're going to try to BS and that kind of thing. So yeah, I think that's some interesting advice to even if you don't know the answer, I think that it's important to be truthful and don't try to make up the answer, but taking it a step further and saying, I'm not sure about that, but...

But here's one, two, and three steps of what I would do to get me to the next step to trying to find the answer. I think that's some good advice there. Absolutely. And you know, here, here's some industry, you know, insider secret that really no one wants you to know. We all use Google. Yeah. All Google everything. We're, we're just, you know, that's how it works in the IT field and it is perfectly acceptable. IT directors hate this one simple trick.

Exactly. It sounds like there's my next video title right there. Some good click-seat there. Soon to be chat-tubed-seat. Nice. Yep. Yeah. So the other video that stuck out to me, a recent one, we all know how prevalent, we even, you know, we got Chris sitting with us here tonight. We know how prevalent cloud is these days. The other video I wanted to call out was what hiring managers at AWS look for. Can you break down that one for us?

Yeah, that was a fun video I did as actually an interview I did with a hiring manager at working for AWS. And, you know, we, we talked about, you know, we kind of broke down some of the walls, you know, a lot of people hear AWS and think it's a big, scary organization. And it is, it is absolutely, um, you know, a big organization and we kind of broke down some myths and demystified some of the things that, you know, you need to actually land a job, you know, we talked about some of the ways you can format your resume, you know,

Um, one thing I like to do, and we talked about in this video is almost have a resume for every style of job that you're applying for, you know, you'll have your networking engineer resume, you'll have your network analyst resume and each one you're going to tweak for every job you apply for, for those key skills that they're looking for that you actually possess. You know, a lot of hiring managers are using automated HR screening filters. And if you don't have the right keywords in your resume, you're not going to even get looked at by a human, you're instantly going to get to the discarded.

We talked about several things you can do to your resume to enhance it. You know, most companies, their job postings are a wishlist. They sometimes are even created by someone that doesn't even have a clue what the job is. They've just copied it off of some other job board. So we talked about how you, you know, this certain organization requires like an IT certificate, for example, that you don't possess, but you are maybe currently studying for, go ahead and list that on your resume and say, you know, like.

For instance, when I first got into IT field, I didn't have my A plus. I listed that, the A plus on my resume and said, I am currently studying for the A plus and I have scheduled my final exam for this state. And that will do several things for you. One, it will show to your future employer that you have the motivation to go out on your own and study for these IT certifications when no one's requiring it. Two, it will get you past those HR screening filters that are looking for CompTIA A plus on your resume. Get your resume into the actual hands of someone,

to maybe make a decision whether or not they're gonna invite you for an interview. Now, by all means, I'm not telling you to lie on your resume because that is the worst thing to do. And as soon as you go into an interview, those hiring managers are gonna look right through you. They're gonna know that you lied. But, you know, be truthful. You know, if you're studying for a certification, go ahead and schedule that certification end date and, you know, list that information on your resume. And that will go a long way. It's practically as good as having the certifications because most employers will like, okay,

We'll give you six months to get this. We're going to hire you and we'll give you six months to get the certification. So that's, that's some things we talked about during that video. And now a word from our sponsors. A place where misconfiguration destroys lives. I trusted you. I trusted all of you to optimize the routing tables.

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and find vulnerabilities in seconds. For forward slash cables of our lives. And now back to the show. You also have a video about top 10 IT certifications that you recommend. And I actually love that because some of the questions that I get a lot are like, which one should I go for? Like, this is so confusing.

And I'm always just like, I don't know. I don't even know which one I should go for. Right. So it's a helpful video, right. Uh, would you mind talking a little bit about what you say in that video about the certs that you recommend? So, you know, I always get the question and I think a lot of people in my situation, like content creators, Oh, what certification should I get? Well, my biggest thing is what do you want to do? What career path do you want to pursue? You'd be surprised how many people don't even know the answer to that question. Um,

And my biggest thing is I talk about certifications as in they're not for your current job, they're for your next job you're going to get there for your career path, you know, if you want to get into cybersecurity, okay, what do you want to do in cyber security? You want to be a penetration test? Do you want to be a security analyst? Do you want to be red team, blue team, purple team, orange team? What do you want to do? You know, um, literally today I was asked the question of should, you know,

Someone was interested in cloud computing and they wanted to look into Microsoft's AI certifications. And I said, well, you know, is that what you want to do? If it's not what you want to do, then don't get it. Don't get a certification just because you think it will make you a lot of money because you really at the end of the day need to be have a passion for it to be able to excel. So, you know, when you're deciding what certifications to get, you really need to decide what interests you the most because you're going to be the most successful at getting that certification and really excelling in that career. So.

Figure out first of all, what you want to do. Then figure out what employers are looking for in that job field. Start looking at some of your local companies that are hiring, see what certifications they are looking. Now, if you're interested in cloud, is there organizations in your area, do they mainly use AWS or do they use Azure? If you're interested in cybersecurity, if you want to get a job with the DoD or a lot of government agencies, they almost require you to have the CompTIA Security Plus.

That'd be a good certification to get if you want to look into getting a government job in cybersecurity. You know, start looking at what organizations actually require because a lot of times a lot of these certifications out there, you'll find out if you start looking around that no one's looking for this certain certification. And I don't want to name any certain certifications in particularly, but there are certifications out there that are better than others to get because more employers understand them. Like the Cisco CCNA versus the Network Plus certification.

Both are great certifications from really two companies that set the bar when it comes to certifications. At the end of the line, more companies out there recognize the Cisco CCNA, even though it's a vendor specific certification, just because Cisco has really set the bar when it comes to certifications and they have a lot better reputation and are a lot more well known. So if you're deciding like, I want to get into networking, which one I should take, start looking at what everyone wants.

Really good advice to actually like do your research on what companies in your area or where you're interested in working actually want. I feel like a lot of people do just sort of, especially at the beginning of their careers, they'll take a look at all the certs and they'll just sort of like maybe feel out one and then they'll just like go a little bit nuts with it, right? And they'll collect a lot of certs without really exploring what their passion about Chris is pointing at himself.

Without really exploring what they're passionate about, right? And I know we talk about passion, passion, passion, and IT, and like, that can be hard sometimes when you're really just trying to get a job, totally understandable. But at some point you do have enough experience and hands on, you know, stuff going on that you can sort of feel out what interests you more than other stuff, at least, right? So I like that. Yeah, absolutely. And one thing where I kind of like to look at it is it should kind of be a ladder effect where, you know,

You get one or two certifications and by the time you have those certifications, you really honestly should be looking for that next job to kind of level up. And, you know, because you need the experience that matches those certifications where if you go out and get like five or six certifications, and then you try to make that jump up to that job, you're going to find it a lot more difficult. And I've seen it time and time again, where someone will look at to get into the IT field and they have like six certifications and I instantly I'm like, Whoa, you know, this person do brain dumps like.

Do they truly know this knowledge because they haven't actually worked a day in IT, how much of this are they actually remembering? So that's, you know, I think I talked about that earlier in the video where, you know, having too many certifications can actually hurt you if you don't have the experience to back it up. So, you know, get a couple, you know, that's where, again, those certifications are for your next job. As soon as you have those certifications, look to level up your career at the same rate, your level. Yeah. So certifications should not be treated as, as Pokemon. You're not.

You're not out here trying to get every single one of them, right? You just got to catch them all. Yeah, I will actually literally I'm creating a video right now talking about. So Comptia has like the Comptia trifecta, the A plus network plus and security plus. And I talk about do you need all three certifications because that's the most common certifications that people get coming into the field. And to be honest with you, no, I don't think there's really any scenario that you should necessarily have all three. So they're all kind of different material, not.

totally different, but like different enough material is like three sort of different almost career tracks, I feel like they're exactly. And if you are focused on your career and you know what you want, there's really, they, there's, there's a lot of overlap between those certifications and they all branch out into different directions. So like if you want to be in security, fine, get the A plus and then go for a security plus and, and all that's the, I recommend getting a networking certification too, but not necessarily the network plus like, you know,

There is a different path I recommend, but focus on the track you want to go. Don't just try to get it. Got to catch them all. So you talked about creating videos. I kind of want to break that down a little bit because I've, I've looked at, watched a few of your videos and you've got really cool clips that you add in and transitions and that kind of stuff is how much, how much effort is behind that? How difficult is it to put those videos together? So a six hour video on average takes me about.

I'm six hours, excuse me, a six minute video. Man, you were creating a couple of godfathers in one video. Yeah, no. So a six minute video on average takes me three to four hours to edit. And part of that's just because I'm a crappy editor. You know, I've done a lot of studying of, I want to make engaging content because the more engaging content I make, the more information I can share.

to help people out. No one wants to watch just a horribly made video and make it sound like I'm talking into a potato. You know what I mean? So I've invested in myself just as much as I've done with IT is I've invested into myself, into my video making and I've gone out and studied. I've spent money to go to conferences. Like this year again, I'm going to VidSummit which is a conference.

based on for like, it's designed for content creators to help learn skills to level up your content creation. You know, I, I spend like, I probably spend about two hours a day watching videos or, you know, two hours is a bit extreme. I probably spend about an hour every single day watching videos or listening to a podcast about content creation. Just to try to keep up with the latest trends. Okay. Should I make YouTube shorts now? I go to TikTok, you know.

Do I need to change the scene every five seconds in the video to keep retention? You know, I want to make the best possible content for people so they enjoy watching it and they continue to learn. Okay. How do you do that? Because I am exhausted and I don't even really give a shit if my stuff is good or not, right? And I, there's so many platforms to make content on. How, how do you, how?

So what I do is I, one thing I do is like batch record. So like, I'll try to find a time where when I sit down, I'll try to record two or three videos at once. And that way I can be slowly editing and turning them out. One thing I've been really trying to strive for this year is being consistent, releasing content on a consistent schedule. And I'm slowly getting there. Like my podcast, you know, the audio version comes out every Monday, the video version comes out every Tuesday. Wednesday, I typically try to release a YouTube short tick.

or a TikTok. Thursday, I'll do a recorded video where like the one I just released today is the five things you should know before starting in the career field. And then Friday or Saturday, I'll try to do a live stream. And on top of this, I work a full-time job. I have three kids, you know. Yeah. Talking about having a passion for it because you have to. Yeah. Right. Yeah, exactly. I want to be successful. You know, I want to be successful. Like tonight when I'm done with this interview, I'll be going, I'm going to go.

do my dishes and I'm going to have like a podcast on, or I watched other channels like Think Media or Colin and Samir where they interview other YouTubers like the big guns, like you know, Mr. Beast and stuff. And I try to break down what works for them and how I can apply it to the content I'm creating to make it make my message better heard. Because I think the more people I can help, you know, that's my goal at the end of the day, I want to help as many people as possible, you know, to achieve their career.

It all goes back to that, you know, for me, it was another YouTuber that gave me the kick in the pants that I needed to go out and start applying for jobs. And I want to continue to be that for others. So to be able to do that, to be able to achieve my mission, I kind of make the best content. Yeah. It's a trickle down effect, right? Yeah. That's a, that's a noble effort for sure. Yeah. And you know, I I've actually just brought on an, an editor, um, to edit my long form videos for, uh, my podcast, um, the interview actually I did with Lexi over on my channel.

was the first video that I had an editor actually edit. And I was scared to kind of release some of that creative control to an editor. And then when he sent me back the video, I was just blown away like, wow, this is great. And I'm not getting burnt out from spending like 10 hours a day on this. So, you know, that was one thing I decided early on. As soon as I got monetized, that I wasn't gonna pay myself at all. I was gonna just start reinvesting the funds back into the channel.

to make better content. That's what I've done. I mean, I didn't get monetized till this year and I've been making content for now for years now. I was going to ask how long you've been at it. Just last week, I got my very first sponsorship deal. I'm super pumped about that because it's not about the money, but the money helps fuel the mission. It helps me be able to continue to make great videos.

I get to go to Cisco live this year because of my YouTube channel and things like that. You know, my YouTube channel bought my Cisco live ticket. So you know, things like that is, is super exciting. And I know I'm going to go to Cisco live and I already have some great interviews scheduled with some really high end people there at Cisco that I'm super pumped about. So yeah, that's got to be a cool feeling to know that, that because of the work you've put into your content creation, you're getting something tangible out of it. That's pretty cool. Absolutely.

Congratulations on, I mean, you've been doing it for a while and like you've just gotten better. You know, you've just been- I can talk about it all day. I think my passion for content creation is almost as equal to my passion about technology. I wish I could get there. That's admirable. It's so satisfying when someone leaves you a comment saying, thank you for creating this video. You are the reason that I was able to land this job. Or like when we did our holiday giveaway.

You know, I gave away like 10 one year subscriptions to I and E and, you know, I got someone actually call me saying, thank you so much for doing this. I've been wanting to start studying for the certification. And if it wasn't for this, I would never been able to be able to afford it on my own. So that's cool. That's just special. I was going to say not to mention, so the, the content creation, you have a discord server that's all based around the content creation and the process. Right. How has that been going?

I do. It's, it's been slow. So I, I, um, I have a discord channel for my, my YouTube channel, the bearded IT that, and then I created a discord channel just for content creators in the tech. Um, because you know, there, there, there's tons of other content creators and you can't view them as competition, but you know, we all need to work together in this content creation space to help each other out. So I created a discord to.

for a space for us all to collaborate, to share ideas, you know, because there's only so many hours in the day for me to actually learn something new. You know, I think I've said that several times today. I'm only one person, I only can do so much. So I built it as a way for us to leverage each other's knowledge and kind of help each other level up. And it's been a great to be able to connect with other content creators and figure out ways they work. Like when I got my first brand deal, I reached out to you guys.

about getting a media kit and you guys sent me your media kit so I could learn how to build my own. And it was super empowering. So I always welcome anyone who is a content creator, no matter what size of a channel you are, to come join, especially if you're in the tech niche. We're all about tech creators, whether that's IT, it's unboxing videos that tech related. Just wanted to create a space just for us, like a little niche to try to help each other out.

Servers? Um, it is, it's just called, um, IT tech. Sorry. I don't even remember my name of my own server. It's a IT tech content creation server. So it's very, it's, we have like 44 members. Um, we have people with like three subscribers and then we have people with, I think our, one of our largest channels in there has maybe 300,000, uh, yeah, 300,000 subscribers. Whoa. So yeah, so we have people from all walks and, uh,

We just try to just help each other out, build community, you know, because at the end of the day, it's all about that. Yep. It's all about community. I got to say that's a, that's a theme for, for our podcast as well. It's all about the community. Yeah. Sure. Well, Dakota, we appreciate you joining us here and telling us your story. I really, as you were talking to us about how you came up in your IT career, I was really drawing some parallels to specifically John Capobianco.

and Carl Zellers. I mean, they had similar stories of, especially John. I mean, it sounds like he had a really similar job to what you had before you got into IT and really just hit that point where I don't want to do this anymore. I need to find out what I really want to do. And then Carl had a similar thing. He was one of those package delivery services. I don't want to say the name because I can't remember if he wanted us to say the name or not. But same thing. He had a really good gig going and he actually took a pay cut.

And, you know, had to have the whole family discussion saying, yes, I know I'm taking a pay cut, but long term, I think it's the right plan. And that's got to be hard to do. So it was cool to really draw those parallels between different people in the community. We all have different stories, but a lot of times those stories intersect and it's really cool. So as we wrap this up, where can people find you? What is the name of your YouTube? Let's talk about that Discord again. Let's run through them all.

Absolutely. So you can find me on pretty much any social media platform at the Bearded IT Dad, mainly most of my content revolves around YouTube, but I'm on TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, you name it, the Bearded IT Dad. I have a Discord server for the Bearded IT Dad as well. And then I have a one for tech related content creators, IT tech content creators. Awesome. Thanks Dakota. You can find us on the socials at art of net ing.

art of,, at cablestoclouds on all the socials as well. Lexi, Chris, thank you for joining us. This has been another episode of the Art of Network Engineering. See ya. Hey there friends. We hope you enjoyed listening to that episode just as much as we did recording it. If you wanna hear more, make sure you subscribe to the show and your favorite podcatcher. You can also give that little bell rascal a little ring-a-dingy.

So you know when we release new episodes. If you're social like we are, you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at Art of Net Inch. That's Art of N-E-T-E-N-G. You can also find us on that weaving web that is the internet at There you'll find our show notes and some blog articles from the hosts, guests, and other friends who just like getting their thoughts down on that virtual paper. Until next time, friends.

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