Back in 2015, Kevin Barry was studying for a Ph.D. in music and was teaching himself programming in his spare time. Inspired by a lecture given by Linux Foundation Fellow Greg Kroah-Hartman, he submitted his first patch for LilyPond. Kevin proceeded to complete the free Intro to Linux course with edX and put that knowledge to use by automating some of his work with shell scripts. He then heard about the Linux Foundation Training (LiFT) Scholarship program and decided to submit an application.
Despite stiff competition, Kevin was selected as the recipient of a Linux Newbies scholarship, which he used to enroll in the Essentials of System Administration training course and to take the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator exam. As highlighted in the Open Source Jobs Report, around half of hiring managers give priority to candidates with certifications, and over 80% of open source professionals believe that certification helps their career.
We followed up with Kevin recently to see how he has been and the impact the scholarship has had.
Linux Foundation: What was the best/most useful thing you learned through this training?
Kevin Barry: It’s really hard to pick a single thing. Everything on the course ended up being relevant afterward since I actually became a SysAdmin. I’d have to say that it taught me how to administer Linux systems, which helped me both at home and at work.
LF: Have you shared the knowledge you gained with others? How so?
KB: Yes, I have. I taught classes on Linux basics to some developers at work (now my previous job). Lots of developers develop for Linux but don’t actually know that much about how to get around, read logs, or write startup scripts for their apps. I taught classes on the basics and more advanced ones on shell scripting.
In my personal life I’ve helped a few people rescue their systems by installing Linux too.
LF: Has your job changed since receiving the scholarship?
KB: Yes: I changed my career immediately after becoming certified. I was working in academia as a postgraduate Ph.D. student (studying music). After I got certified I took a job as a Linux SysAdmin. Since then, I’ve been promoted twice and am now a Staff Systems Engineer at ServiceNow – an IT company that runs entirely on Linux.
LF: Are you contributing to any open source projects? Which ones?
KB: Yes; I contribute to the GNU LilyPond project (it’s a program for engraving music) – the perfect combination of two of my passions: music and Linux. I mostly try to help end-users by posting solutions to their problems on the user mailing list, but I also participate in the developer discussions, and I have submitted a couple of patches (hopefully there will be more as time goes on).