What's Your Job? Senior Network Engineer
Published on Jul 29, 2014 by Amy Cassell
Note: At launch, the Cloud Technologies degree was known as Emerging Technology & Systems Engineering. Since that time, we've revised the program and the degree name to better reflect the growing IT and systems engineering industries.
To coincide with the launch of Full Sail's new Cloud Technologies degree, a 20-month on-campus bachelor's degree program that teaches students about data virtualization and cloud-based IT systems, we sat down with Michael O'Loughlin, an IT professional and owner of local company Daytec Systems, to learn more about what his job as a network engineer is like.
Michael started his career in electrical engineering, but made the switch to IT more than 20 years ago, working as a network engineer. While he still works full-time for a local company as a Senior Network Engineer, he launched Daytec Systems on the side as a way to have more freedom in helping people design and build network systems. The company – which has been in business for nearly 15 years – provides network, web hosting, IT consulting, and a handful of other tech-savvy services. "A lot of Daytec's customers are people with companies that have outgrown their simple couple of computers," says Michael. "Most of these people aren't very IT-savvy, so we manage their systems [setting up networks, maintaining computers and software, managing websites, etc.] for them so they don't have to worry about it."
"My favorite part of the job is designing and building new networks," says Michael. "Designing communications systems [for clients] that save money and work faster." And one of the most challenging parts? Michael says the challenge is more on the business side, keeping up with ever-changing business tax laws.
With the recent rise in data virtualization and cloud-based IT solutions, Michael says working in "the cloud" is something he's done at his day job and is something he has started to implement a bit for some of Daytec's clients. "Being aware of how the [cloud] technology works, understanding what it can do, and knowing when to set up a virtual solution is important," says Michael. "If you've got a single application and lot of people need access to it, you could put that application in the cloud. Instead of buying a single server, you can put 20 or 30 virtual PCs on the cloud server."
Being able to translate technical speak into basic, understandable language is important. "People need to understand what they're paying for," says Michael. "Then once you've established a certain amount of trust with that client, after a while they may not want all of the details because you've proven yourself." Other qualities Michael says are important for budding IT professionals: strong troubleshooting skills ("you have to figure out what's wrong with something to design a good system"), the ability and willingness to work outside of regular business hours ("many times the systems you're working on are critical and cannot be taken down during the day"), and a true love for technology.
"You can't just have a curiosity for technology, you have to have a love for it," says Michael. "If you love technology, when the job gets hard, you'll still want to do it."