Welcome to Women of DevOps, part deux! I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about today’s guest, Patricia Anong.
Patricia is actually a DevOps Consultant. She is self-taught and decided to jump into tech after feeling uncertain about her future in psychology. Her consultancy has brought her to different roles at Under Armour, Stratus Solutions, Fearless, and AT&T.
Patricia runs a really cool personal blog on all things surrounding DevOps - there’s a link in the article below, and it’s super worth a good perusal.
‘Til next time,
Can’t listen to the audio? Read on below for a transcript of our conversation.
Rox: Hey everybody, thank you for joining us for Women of DevOps, Episode Two! Today, we are joined with Patricia. Patricia, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, please?
Patricia: Hi, everyone. Hi, Roxanne. My name is Patricia Anong. I am currently an independent consultant, and I'm very excited to be talking to Roxanne today about Women of DevOps. Some highlights about me: I'm a huge automation nerd, and I enjoy sharing knowledge with folks via my personal blog. Most of the topics involve tools I work with on a daily basis. They cover a range of topics from CI/CD to best practices and multi-cloud environments. And I mostly work in AWS, GCP, and Azure.
Rox: Very nice. You mentioned your blog - would it be possible for you to give us a link for that?
Patricia: Sure! Yeah. I'm happy to do that. [Rox note: here’s a link to Patricia’s DevOps blog! It’s SO full of good info, I could get lost reading in there for hours.]
Rox: You brought up consultancy. Could you tell us a little bit more about that? Explain to everybody the difference between working at a regular company as a full-time DevOps employee versus consultancy?
Patricia: The biggest difference is just the fact that I work for myself technically. I'm still mostly doing the same things. Most of the time, when a consultant is called in, it's because there are very specific needs that an enterprise is looking to achieve. There might be a migration going on, or there might be a need to start adopting DevOps methodologies and they just don't have the resources on hand that have the skillsets required to achieve those results in a specific timeframe. And so they call a consultant in to help expedite/facilitate that.
Rox: That is very cool. What has your career progression been like so far?
Patricia: I actually got into tech as a child, in a way. I've always been interested in taking things apart and putting them back together. I went to school and studied psychology and I even was in a graduate program for psychology before I finally transitioned into tech. But the thing about it was, when I was an undergrad, I had a lot of experiences - internships and such - that included some aspects of tech. And so I was always in the periphery of tech, with Help Desk-ish kind of work. And during my graduate studies, I happened to intern somewhere that had an Oracle DBA. We got to talking, and I realized that I probably wanted to transition to that.
I talked with some of my friends about the confusion I was feeling in psychology and feeling lost and not really sure. And I was advised by one of them, “Have you considered tech? It could be the right path to take.” So once I got that internship, I was working as an Oracle DBA / Linux sysadmin. My natural curiosity got the best of me in that role, partly because I was just very unsure of myself (when you're coming from psychology and most of the people you're working with have degrees and something computer-related or technical). I did a lot of self-directed learning and trying to understand the project as a whole and all the components and different environments. And that triggered my love and foray into DevOps. So yeah, my path was very unconventional!
Rox: That actually is the perfect lead-up into my next question then because it's actually about education, and it seems like you had that non-standard way of doing things. How do you feel about the whole education thing, when it comes to tech? Do you believe in four-year degrees, or would you encourage bootcamps, or just plunging your way into it? What's your take on education?
Patricia: That's a really good question. I think - and I'm going to give you a completely tech answer - it depends. It depends on the individual, it depends on the career path they want to pursue. Some roles require a Master's or a PhD in Computer Science or Math, while others don't. It's very important to research what interests you, what the career path and progression will require, and then make an informed decision based on that.
I was able to transition into my career via a lot of self-learning, so I know it can be done. I know people that have come out of bootcamps and they've been very successful. But I also know people that are on the opposite side of that, right, they've come out of bootcamps and they weren't able to get jobs - at least not immediately. And I also know people that have completed college degrees and gone the four-year route, not really had any hands-on experience, and they weren't able to get jobs either. So it's definitely a balancing act.
Even with a degree, I would advise taking some courses online, practicing things in your free time, building up your skills. Most companies want someone that they can teach, but who also has a good foundational knowledge/experience. So practice Git, understand basic Linux commands, get familiar with AWS, GCP, or Azure, start learning Python or Golang, something that makes you more marketable and can help you really break in. I think that advice is helpful, regardless of which career path you choose. But I think ultimately, it has to be an individual choice, right? How do you learn? What are you trying to achieve? Which career path are you going with? But I think honestly, the answer is it's going to be a combination of education, either four-year or bootcamp, and a whole lot of self-learning.
Rox: Right. And on that note, if you could go back in time, would you have done things differently? Is there any advice you'd give your younger self?
Patricia: I don't know that I would change anything about the way my career has gone thus far, because every single experience kind of led me to where I am today. In the beginning of my career, I had major imposter syndrome. I didn't think I belonged or knew enough to get the chances that I did. That kind of helped keep me on my toes. It made me eager to keep learning and push myself to learn new things.
Being adaptable and continuously learning is so very important in tech. My path, the way it is, gave me the most valuable tool that I need, which is the hunger to keep learning and growing. So the most important advice I would give to my younger self would have to be to talk to people around me. The idea of networking or talking to people is so scary to me, because it doesn't come so naturally for me. But all it really is, is just talking to people, right? Because everyone is a person, and everyone has a story. Asking questions, getting answers, that might just lead to a realization that can change everything for you.
Like I said earlier, talking to one of my friends about how I was feeling - lost and unsure during my graduate program - is what led them to advise me to consider IT. And that very simple conversation, that moment of just letting someone in a little bit and talking about it started my official journey in tech, and it's been one of the best choices I've made.
Rox: Absolutely. It's amazing how one conversation can pretty much set you on your whole life path. [laughs]
Patricia: It really is!
Rox: Okay, this is my favorite question here because it's kind of the whole crux of Women of DevOps. What has your experience been like as a woman in tech? Because we get the whole gamut of that, right? There are some women that say, “I've had to work twice as hard just to be taken seriously.” And there are others that say they've felt super supported. So what has your personal experience been like?
Patricia: [laughs] Well, I'm actually going to be one of the people that has experienced a little bit of both. I think for me, being a woman in tech has kind of been bittersweet. I know some awesome women in tech, but there are not nearly enough of us. In every position I've had in my career, there's only one company where I wasn't the only woman in a technical role.
I've had a lot of great experiences and met people that have been instrumental in helping me learn new skills and grow in my career - but I've also had situations where I've come in, and I'm a woman, so I've had to work a little bit harder to gain that trust, to show I really know what I'm talking about.
One thing that I have learned, though - and one thing that it's taught me, my experience as a woman in tech - is that there isn't really a glass ceiling in tech for women. My personal experience has been that if you have the right skillset, if you work hard, learn new things, and you're adaptable, you can and will succeed, even though it is a field dominated by men.
Rox: That's some really good advice, right there. I have a question about your overall career - it doesn't have to be at your current consultancy gig or anything - but what's your favorite project you've ever gotten to work on, and why?
Patricia: Hmm, my favorite project... You know, I've had the opportunity to work on a lot of really incredible projects. And I mean, honestly, every project that I'm working on currently is my favorite in that moment. But my overall favorite project… Hmm, can I give two of them?
One would be a tool that I was able to work on. It's a widely-used tool, and I was able to get it onto the AWS Marketplace as a SaaS product. So I was very, very proud of that project. I mean, it was incredible.
The other isn't necessarily a project, but it's kind of my passion, a little bit. I blog a lot about things that I'm learning, things that I've learned - trying to help people that are new to DevOps or have been in DevOps for a while, on my blog. And I'd have to say, that's one of my favorite things - one of my favorite projects - because it's ongoing.
Rox: Speaking of projects like that, is there anything exciting coming down the pipeline for you? Any certifications you're going for, any speaking engagements at a virtual conference, anything like that?
Patricia: I have a few projects coming up that are doing some really cool things with machine learning, so I'm really excited to see how that plays out. I'm also thinking about maybe another cert, but I'm not sure yet.
Rox: That makes sense. The AWS certs that I'm familiar with have been very time-intensive to study.
Patricia: Yeah, it's been a lot with everything that's been going on in the past year (and is still going on now). It's harder to just get that “heads down” time to prepare for a cert.
Rox: For sure. My final question for you: is there anything else that you'd like to share? Maybe a word of advice for other women? Encouragement, perhaps, for women who are starting a career in technology?
Patricia: I know that the idea of technology as a whole can be intimidating, especially hearing about a field dominated by men. And I know that there are all kinds of stories, because everyone has their different experiences, right? But I think it's important not to let that stop you. If you're sure that this is the field you want to be in, go all in. Work hard, study hard. Talk to people. Because as much as it is about the skillsets, it's also a little bit about who you know and who can help mentor you.
Study hard, and at the end of the day, you'll get where you want to go. It's really difficult to stay in tech if you don't love what you do. You have to have at least some level of passion for it, and that's mostly because it requires lifelong learning and change. So if you know that this is what you want to do, don't let anything stop you. Go for it. You got this.
Rox: I love it. I love it! Thank you so much for your time today.
Patricia: Thank you! Thank you for having me. It's been so great talking with you.
Rox: Yay! Well thank you everybody, and we will talk to you next time.
Catch Women of DevOps in April for Leigh Kastenson, DevOps Engineer at LeafLink!
Did you miss Episode 1? You can find it here: meet Tiffany Jachja!
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