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Becoming a Network Engineer — Reality versus Expectation

Becoming a Network Engineer — Reality versus Expectation

Network engineers have the hefty responsibility of setting up an organization’s IT network, ensuring that it is as efficient and as secure as possible — but their role doesn’t stop there. They also need to maintain and develop the network on an ongoing basis, while this might seem simple, it can be very demanding. Good network engineers are vital to a company’s success.

Network engineers must be able to work as “free agents,” while being an effective member of a team, meaning they prioritize their own workflow and responsibilities while being mindful of their overall contribution to the company. Another important task is troubleshooting any issues the network may face, as well as helping upgrade and develop a network depending on the organizations current and/or probable future needs.

The complex and many demands made on network engineers means that the expectations of newly graduated professionals sometimes don’t match the reality of the job at hand, so let’s explore what network engineers can expect when entering the job market, and what makes an effective and sought-after network engineer.

What does it take to be a network engineer?

Multitasking

First things first, a network engineer needs to be a very organized multi-tasker. This is intuitive, considering the varied tasks that are asked of him/her. The ability to maintain an effective and professional approach to different tasks, sometimes at the same time, is a must-have. Though most new graduates understand this, they tend to assume that they will have to concentrate on the technical aspect of the job when the truth is that the communications and leadership demands of the profession can take a greater share of their working day than most expect.

Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are another quality that early graduates should cultivate before entering the job market, since the engineer will be called upon to explain and train colleagues, staff and clients. Communicating with people from different backgrounds and who may have a limited understanding of IT is another important role for the engineer. If you want to be successful in your career, customer service tends to be just as important as network design and technical skills.

Creativity within Budgetary Limitations

Creativity and the ability to think outside the box is an important trait for a successful network engineer, too. The employer will require the most effective network possible (sometimes with limited resources). The engineer may be asked to work and improve on an older and obsolete design, putting a premium on engineers who are able to balance the needs of creating and maintaining an effective network with the available resources and equipment. Shopping and finding the right equipment and software is also within the engineer’s domain. Having a sense of costs and the financial impact of purchasing equipment or implementing solutions can be another unexpected skillset for people in this position.

Leadership

New graduates should work on developing their leadership qualities. Creating a network is one thing; enforcing the standards needed for maintaining the effectiveness and security of said network is another. An efficient engineer needs to be able to guide, educate, and impose a certain degree of discipline and accountability amongst network users — preferably without being heavy-handed and dictatorial.

Continuous Learning and Self-Improvement

The ability to learn on the job and move with the times is an important aspect of the job description, the engineer will need to stay updated on new software, equipment and techniques so as to provide the best service possible for their company. This necessitates continuous professional development, while still balancing daily demands of the work at hand. A love of learning will help network engineers feel professionally fulfilled in their careers and make them more valuable employees, too.

A Dynamic Approach

Flexibility and adaptability are premium attributes of today’s successful network engineer. Engineers need to adapt their work schedule and troubleshoot on a regular basis, jumping from task to task. Successful candidates and new graduates will benefit from an attitude that allows them to get the job done regardless of the challenges. Most network engineers enjoy solving complex problems and like having the answers and figuring things out until the desired goal is achieved.

These are some of the qualities and issues facing newly graduated network engineers. Aside from book learning and technical proficiency, today’s network engineers need to stand out with a goal-oriented, professional approach and possess a high degree of communication and leadership skills. For those that choose this career, it is a dynamic and ever-evolving position that is integral to the success of any business.  

At Concero Technology Group, we help people in all phases of their IT career. Whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned director or IT manager, we will be your guide on the side connecting you to the right people and right positions.

Aaron Schwander

Aaron Schwander

Professional Recruiter

Watch Aaron’s Spotlight video or connect with Aaron on LinkedIn.
A Different Way of Looking at Interviewing

A Different Way of Looking at Interviewing

In a typical interview situation, a company needs help and somebody is looking for work. Employee qualifications and job details will have been clear in writing. But there is more to it than that — the true purpose of the interview is to dig deeper and get a feel for the potential fit. In fact, it is really a tool for the interviewer and the interviewee.

Check out these helpful tips to not just to get the job, but to get the job that is best for you and your employer.

Before

  • You’ve probably already thought about brushing up on your relevant skills and knowledge. Yes, this is necessary, but don’t overdo it. It’s more important to be well rested before your interview than to stay up all night and arrive exhausted carrying three espressos all for yourself.
  • Check the company website. Find out as much as you can so you feel prepared, can demonstrate your knowledge, and ask insightful questions.
  • Have you stumbled over interview questions before? If so, what were they and how would you answer them now? It’s worth thinking ahead of time about your answers to potentially challenging questions. Many interviewers like these types of questions to see how you respond, as well as to hear your specific answer.
  • Visualize a successful outcome. This will help you prepare emotionally and will make you feel more confident.
    On your way to the interview, smile. If you put a pencil between your teeth so that it forces your lips apart, you can’t help but smile and when you smile you can’t help but feel better. Science fact. (Don’t do this while driving or during the interview, though ☺). Still, remembering to smile (…without the pencil) is a good idea before, during, and after your interview.
  • Another way to boost your energy and mood is to listen to a favorite song or to have something pleasant planned for after your interview.
  • Remember that you are expressing yourself, as well as proving you have the right skills and will be a good fit with that company’s culture.
  • Speak confidently; know the difference between sharing your accomplishments and being arrogant. Confidence is believing in yourself without needing to prove that you’re better than anyone else.

During

  • Within the first 30 seconds of your interview, an employer will have their first impression about whether or not to hire you. Don’t waste that precious time by distracting the interviewer by your ripped jeans or staring at your feet in flip-flops. For interviews, business formal is the default style of dress (that means no polo shirts, too).
  • Take care to avoid distracting elements such as cologne or perfume. Keep jewelry minimal and save your mohawk for the weekend.
  • Bring a folder or a pad of paper and something to write with. Make sure your pen works.
    Bring several copies of your resume.
  • Use positive language. If you can talk about problems as though they are opportunities with multiple solutions (they are), people will want you on their team.
  • Do bring up your concerns or questions. This is an opportunity for you to find out more information, too. It’s not about candidates jumping through hoops, which can be a traditional – but less helpful way – of approaching this special interaction. Don’t think of it as a test. An interview is an opportunity for both sides to dig deeper into what it would mean to add you to that company and how the fit would be for everyone.
  • Speaking of opportunities, this is your chance to touch on things that may not be written on your resume. Elaborate on your soft skills and your personality. Don’t just say that you work well with people. Mention how and give examples.
  • During the interview, balance being yourself and being professional. Think about what the business needs from its employees, but don’t be a robot. Show your personality. Remember that balance though. Don’t take your shoes off and put your feet up on the table, even if your interviewer does.

Here’s what Lexi Combs, one of Concero’s professional recruiters, says about interviews:

“If you’ve been asked to do an interview, remember that the company wants you to be there and is rooting for you to succeed. An interview brings your resume to life, so be engaging and curious. You wouldn’t be in the interview in the first place if there weren’t some technical skills that are aligned with the position requirements. But it’s your demeanor and attitude that will make you stand out.”

  • Be curious. People who are interested in things normally have questions about them. Don’t ask questions for the sake of it, though, or ramble on. If your interviewer has already answered all of your sensible questions, all you need to do is thank them for having been comprehensive.
  • If you are working with a recruiter, don’t ask the interviewer about your salary. They are good questions, but save them for your recruiter.
  • Ask for the job. In marketing, we talk about including a call-to-action. People need to know what they are expected to do, or they need a push, even when it seems obvious. Asking for the job is powerful.

After

After your interview, go and do that special thing you had planned to boost your energy and mood. Just before that, however, don’t forget to give your recruiter a call to let them know how it went. A personal letter (or at minimum an email) thanking the interviewer for their time and expressing your interest in the opportunity, if you are still interested, is the final step in completing a successful interview experience.