Just like the packets that transfer to their destinations, we travel in similar paths! On our IT Journey no matter what we face we overcome all odds to come out the other side stronger & more driven individuals than before. I mentioned a while back about an incredible discord group dedicated to guiding IT Professionals all over on their own journey, the struggles they may face and more. One individual I’ve had the distinct honor and privilege in getting to know is someone not just professionally, but personally I’m fortunate to call a good friend. He’s someone who as of last year came into the industry and has been on the fast track of growing his skills, and honing his craft every step of the way, that man is Chris Dedman-Rollet!
His story is one of the most incredible stories’ I’ve heard as his journey into becoming an IT Professional didn’t even start in IT!? Starting as a butcher and working for over 12 years in that profession. Chris made the exciting jump to the world of IT and hasn’t looked back since. He has taken the IT world by storm! From his first appearance on DevNet day where he showcased his automation skills! To his most recent achievement last year in being named one of the finalists in Cisco’s IT Blog Awards! I had the honor to chat with him one on one on some of the similarities and differences in our IT Journey’s, and had a few questions for him on what some of his secrets were to success.
What motivated you to get into IT? And why Networking specifically?
Chris: I worked 12 years as a butcher in my home country and hated it so much. Every day I worked from 4 a.m. to at least 4 p.m. When you spend so much time in an environment you hate you understand the importance of doing something you love, waking up every morning for work shouldn’t be a painful thing to do. I had the opportunity to enroll in community college in California for free, as a new immigrant to the country, this is a perfect opportunity for me, I have no money and my English was not that good last year. First, I had two options and tried two workshops to see what the classes were, it was child development and Cisco CCNA training. Because I started learning programming at the end of 2019, thanks to my Sr. Software Engineer wife, my heart was more for Cisco then.
What are some good strategies you’re using when preparing for your CCNA?
Chris: What I think work for me is that I am reading the Official Cert. Guide from Cisco Press, each example that the book gives, I try it with packet tracer or my Cisco switch that I won on the Discord server (I unfortunately don’t have money for buying more equipment, but I truly think that real gear are very useful, not only for the cert. but for real world experience to put on your resume when, like me, don’t have previous background) I am using the companion website available with Cisco Press for chapter review and practice test. I recently started to use Anki Flashcards, available for free with Android. I really think labbing what you are learning is the best way to learn.
A big part of your learning is Automation, what tools are you learning & utilizing, what ones would you like to learn in the future?
Chris: I am learning Python for Automation. My first project in Python has been to automate my puppy training. I created an algorithm that reminds me every 2 hours to take her out, because I am studying a lot, I do not always have my eyes on the clock, it was a pretty good first project for me, and a first self-accomplishment in programming. I learned to use the library speech recognition from google (still not mastering it but I will get there eventually) and create a kind of digital assistant, and made a speech translation, you speak in English and it does translate in French what you just said. It’s not perfect yet but I’m working on it. I would like to learn more about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, I do love robot and would love to create my own one, this one is a kid dream, but like I like to say, live your dream, don’t dream your life 😀
What’s been the scariest part of this journey for you?
Chris: I dropped off school pretty early, and never studied anything between the age of 14 and 27. I know only one field (butcher), it was pretty scary to me to start something that I never did. You know at school I was there but not very there. I used to play a lot of video games and my mind was not very in the class, that is why I failed back in the day. The US is where I reborn, back to school for studying English, I recently passed my GED (first exam that I succeed), now studying for my CCNA in a language that I don’t totally master yet, this is pretty scary for me, I afraid of failure, even if I know that it is necessary for grow.
Where do you see yourself in IT in the next 5-10 years? What goals in the industry outside of certifications are you looking to achieve?
Chris: I would love to work for Cisco, I love the company mindset and the people who’re working there are pretty amazing. Besides, I love space. It would be an honor for me if in 10 years I can work for a space agency. My goal in the industry outside certifications, I would love to help a maximum of people. I know starting something new is pretty difficult, being self-taught is a skill that not everyone has, it is difficult to stay on track when you don’t have a plan or do not have a mentor. I want to help like everyone help me in the discord server IAATJ.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming IT Professionals looking to get into the industry?
Chris: It is a pretty complicated field, but if you dedicate enough time in your study, find a community with which you can grow and ask questions when you have some. Do not isolate yourself, you have no idea how helpful our community did help me since I started. You do not have to buy every book, subscribe to every study website (who is ridiculously expensive by the way). I think education should not cost an arm and a leg, but do not forget, the easy way is never the good way. Whatever you are doing in your life, if it is too easy, that probably means you are doing something wrong and I think it is truer in IT.
Getting to chat with Chris is always awesome, being a new face in the industry he gives you such a different & fresh perspective on everything. What he’s looking to accomplish and what methods he’s designed to help ensure his rise to becoming an engineer are no doubt something you don’t want to miss out on! I’m not gonna lie though I didn’t just ask him about some of his secrets, I also shared some of my own vast experience with him I’ve had on my own path. So how did the rest of our conversation go? Check out his incredible blog and other amazing content to follow his journey and find out!, and as always good luck to everyone on your paths i’ll see you down the road.