Looking for a Tier 1 ISP Mentor for career advice.

Leo Bicknell bicknell at ufp.org
Thu Dec 1 16:13:18 UTC 2011

In a message written on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 at 08:17:08AM -0700, randal k wrote:
> This is a huge point. We've had a LOT of trouble finding good network
> engineers who have all of the previously mentioned "soft" attributes -
> attitude, team player, can write, can speak, can run a small project - and
> are more than just Cisco pimps. I cannot explain how frustrating it is to
> meet a newly minted CCNP who has zero Linux experience, can't script
> anything, can't setup a syslog server, doesn't understand AD much less
> LDAP, etc. Imagine, an employee who can help themselves 90% of the time ...

I've been on both sides of this coin, looking for folks with these
sorts of skills and finding them very difficult to find but also
looking for employers who valued this base of skills when I have
been job hunting in the past.

My observation is that most ISP's want this broad base of skills,
but won't pay for it.  The folks with these skills promptly move
in one of a few directions.  They become consultants making huge
money but dealing with the clueless.  They become SE's for vendors
and VAR's, where their skills can earn them comissions.  The few
lucky ones become Architects or Principal Engineers and provide
vision and run key projects, but then they aren't doing much day
to day work.

More interestingly, the people with these sorts of skills got them
because they like touching everything and maintaining their end to
end knowledge.  While it's more a problem on the corporate side, a
lot of folks want to hire this knowledge and then put them in a
role where their hands are tied, unable to access all of these
parts.  Obstensibly the goal is to have them lead and mentor the
clueless in control of the various elements, but the few folks I've
seen try it quickly get frustrated, see no future in it, and leave.
No where is this more true than when these sorts of folks are brought in
to manage outsourced arrangements.

It's a wonderful double edged sword.  Someone who can think their
way out of a myriad of technical problems is also smart enough to
evaluate the orginizational structure and dynamics, predict their
own future (or lack thereof), predict the success and failure rates
of the current envornment and leave if they don't think it's a net

I do think NANOG as a community could do a better job in helping
employers and potential employees in this industry find each other.
I know nanog-jobs exists, but it doesn't seem to have traction with
either side of the problem.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at ufp.org - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at http://www.ufp.org/~bicknell/
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