Michael Rossiter was a long time Linux enthusiast working as a music teacher in the north of England. He had dreamed of a role working in IT, but wasn’t sure where to start or what opportunities were out there. After taking some online courses and volunteering at an organization that teaches elderly and disabled individuals about technology, his uncle recommended he look into the Cloud Engineer Bootcamp from Linux Foundation Training & Certification. After completing the bootcamp and the included Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exams, he was able to secure a role as a DevOps Engineer. We spoke to Michael to learn more about his experience.
Linux Foundation: What is your current occupation?
Michael Rossiter: DevOps Engineer.
LF: What was your position before completing your training and/or certification?
MR: Music Teacher.
LF: What prompted you to want to change careers away from teaching music?
MR: I sort of fell into teaching music as I have studied music and have performed it my whole life. I was asked by a few friends to start teaching with them and soon got the ‘knack’ for it and it was nice to get some musical continuation in my day job but it was never something that I chose to do specifically and I soon hit a wall when it came to career progression. I had friends who were working in web development, IT support, and as DBAs, etc. I was always slightly jealous that they had interesting tech roles even if some of the same people were asking me for guitar lessons!
I started using Linux after my uncle introduced me to Mint Cinnamon around 2014 and my mind was blown. I had no idea what Linux was. I started using it for everything and explored as much FOSS as I could and distro hopped for years moving from Ubuntu to Arch to Slackware to Debian and finally settling on Fedora! I think I knew that this was a big part of my life but I didn’t yet know how I could turn this ‘hobby’ into my day job. I had no idea yet of the wider world of IT and how it affected people’s day to day lives – hidden in plain view yet lurking in the background.
LF: Did this training and/or certification help you move to your new position? How?
MR: Yes, it proved my skills in Linux were authentic.
LF: What sort of work do you do as a DevOps Engineer?
MR: One thing about teaching that I enjoyed was the pace and that I was never bored. The world of tech is constantly changing and I happen to like change so this transition for me was appealing. In my current role, as in others in the past, I am the quiet Linux enthusiast in the corner beavering away with Ansible and Terraform, busy maintaining the environments for the developers and maintaining the cloud estate whilst monitoring it with many open source projects such as Grafana and Prometheus. I prefer to live in the terminal where possible and the certifications gave me that confidence boost. I don’t use IDEs much and can do 90% of my work on the command line. Source control is managed by Git (what else?) and containers by Docker. Hence why I enjoy my new role so much!
LF: What prior IT experience did you have before starting this training and certification?
MR: I had several office type jobs before teaching and enjoyed being the guy who didn’t mind getting stuck in when technology was failing people. I also worked in the printing and reprographic industries too but they soon started to disappear. As a teacher I realised I missed that element of my previous employment. As I researched what was required for a job in IT support and spoke to several helpful friends, I began to take some courses in IT (ITIL v3 foundation and the Google IT Support Professional Cert) and started to volunteer for a local charity to help elderly and disabled people with technology. Soon after this the same uncle who got me into Linux in the first place recommended the Cloud Engineer Bootcamp at the Linux Foundation and I couldn’t wait to get started once I had a better idea of the use cases of Linux in the wild.
LF: How did the various training courses and the LFCS and CKA certifications help you prepare for your current role?
MR: I use Linux all day long now and am deeply involved with containerisation of applications. The courses I took along with the certifications forced me to focus on any gaps in my knowledge. What I learnt on the LFCS course was extremely useful as I began my career in IT infrastructure and the move to DevOps was supported by my experience learning about containers and utilising Kubernetes. It also conveyed my dedication to the platform as a whole and I still feel very proud of what I achieved having changed careers later in life.
LF: Did these certifications have an impact on the company’s decision to hire you?
MR: It is the first thing I mention if I’m honest! It means a lot to me having this certification from what is essentially the home of the Linux kernel. Even though there is a vast and growing community of Linux specialists, I still feel that I am in the minority, especially as I’m in the North of England. This really helped me stand out and save the company a lot of bother teaching Linux command line skills.
LF: How long did it take you to prepare for the certifications?
MR: I would say it took me the whole year to complete so three months toward each exam. A month for each course.
LF: What was the most useful thing you took away from your training and/or certification experience?
MR: Having to sit down and concentrate on the basics and the programs plus the facets of work that sysadmins have to deal with. I might not have done that in my spare time for fun otherwise. Also, passing the exams! And the self esteem boost I got from obtaining them.
LF: Was there anything you wish the exams had covered more or differently? Anything that you felt was missing?
MR: It’s a tricky question but regarding Kubernetes, I felt that I had learnt a lot about the setup and not as much about the newer offers of managed services such as GKE or AKS. I love that I have this deeper understanding but I see that more and more companies are interested in the management of a cluster and less in the initial setup. The Linux course was ideal. I use those skills continuously.
LF: Are you planning to take any other training or certification exams? If so, which ones are of interest?
MR: At the moment I’m concentrating on infrastructure as code and provisioning in the cloud. But if I had more free time I would like to take the Linux Engineer exam and hope to do so in the future!
LF: Explain how you’ve shared your knowledge with others.
MR: I share my understanding with colleagues and friends regularly. I promote use of distros that I think are of use to my family on hardware that struggles with Windows. I also help developer friends install Linux or use Linux in a VM to run other environments.