Podcast Review – ZigBits Episode 70

  • Podcast: ZigBits Network Design Podcast
  • Episode: 70 – Demystifying the Role of the Network Engineer with Ethan Banks

For a while now on the podcast, Zig has been doing a series of “Demystifying the Role of the Network Engineer” episodes with various guests. In this episode, Zig sits down with Ethan Banks to get his take on the role of the network engineer. This was a fun one for me because I’ve been a Packet Pushers fan for a little while now and really enjoy Ethan’s perspective. I took some notes while listening to this episode, so I am going to list out some paraphrased key topics that were said during the episode, and give my thoughts/interpretations inline.

  • A network engineer is a builder.
    • In an organization, the network engineer is the individual (or individuals) that actually build and implement the network infrastructure.
    • Depending on size and structure, the engineer will take and interpret a design from a network architect, develop a design of their own, or work with a contractor for the design process.
  • When seeking help or mentorship, do your homework first.
    • Unless there is an outage/emergency, you aren’t really doing yourself any favors by seeking help from others without trying to do some research of your own. This will help you learn and build confidence in your own abilities.
    • Mentors and more experienced individuals will probably be more willing to help someone that has proven that they are serious about learning something.
  • Build trust, don’t just try to be the smartest person in the room.
    • If you are lucky enough to be a member of a team, do what you can to make the team stronger, rather than just make yourself look good.
    • You are one person, we are stronger together.
    • Working with different team members brings different perspectives. You never know when someone else might catch or see something that you did not.
  • Repetition and practice is not always easy to accomplish, so proper documentation is vital.
    • There may be certain technologies or skill sets that we do not get to tap into on a daily basis. Having good documentation or at least knowing where to obtain good documentation is important.
  • Do not lose sight of the business, speak the language.
    • I think that it’s an easy trap to fall in (I’m guilty, myself), of thinking that “Well, I’m in IT, I just do ‘IT things’ and do not need to understand the core business purpose and principles”. We are more than just IT workers. We are contributors for a business toward business goals. It can be difficult to provide value to a business if you do not understand the whats/whys/hows of the company.
  • Communicate effectively.
    • I am a firm believer in communicating clearly and often to customers, team members, and management. Not only so that people do not have to wonder about the status of certain things, but I feel that it is a way of showing that you care about what you do and the task at hand. If I can provide information or an update before someone has to ask, then I feel that I am communicating at least decently.
  • Have the ability and drive to learn.
    • Network engineers and other IT contributors work in ever-changing environments. We need to have the ability, desire, and drive to continuously learn, adapt, and grow.
  • Ethan still loves networking.

I love hearing people’s stories, experiences, and advice. Listening to these two incredibly experienced and intelligent individuals provided just that. This was a great discussion with a lot of solid advice for network engineers and I definitely recommend giving it a listen.

Published by Tim Bertino

Systems Architect passionate about solutions and design.

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