“Faces of the Journey” is a series that highlights individuals in the network engineering community. The journey is the path we take through our careers, and it can be very different for each of us. While the destination is important, it’s all about the journey!
Chris Randall, also known as @Bites_to_Bits, is an up and coming individual to the IT profession, originally from Michigan. At the age of 25, Chris moved to Southern Georgia to pursue career opportunities. However, at the time, the aspirations were not around network engineering or even information technology as a whole. Chris has spent the last 13 years in the culinary industry at different levels. He is currently a Food Service Director for a Fortune 500 client, where he oversees four onsite cafes. At their peak, they served over 2,000 guests per day! Before his current role, he also spent a short time at the former #1 restaurant in the world, Eleven Madison Park, in New York City. Previous to cooking for a living, when he was younger, Chris spent summers helping on his Aunt and Uncle’s potato farm. Growing up, Chris never felt that an IT career was a viable option, because they never had a reliable internet connection in the country and the family computer was outdated. However, a few years ago, he came into contact with Python for a college course and found it interesting. This led to some research into computer networking, which was very eye opening. Although not currently in an IT role, Chris spent the last six months studying for the CCNA exam, which he recently passed! As of now, the focus has been on the Cisco Devnet Associate certification and working through a Python #100DaysOfCode challenge. Chris is also working on a blog, playing around with some vlog ideas, and staying active on different social media platforms to help grow his network. Professionally, the next step is to break into the world of network engineering. The long term goal is to get into the DevOps or security disciplines.
Alright Chris, We’ve Got Some Questions
What is something you enjoy to do outside of work? As of late, my wife and I have begun hiking. We have some pretty decent local trails and are heading to Flagstaff, Arizona in April to hike some pretty unique areas. It is nice to be able to unplug for a few hours and spend quality time in some serene landscapes.
What is the next big thing that you are working toward? DevNet Associate and becoming fluent in Python. I want to be an asset as companies continue to implement Network Automation tools.
How did you figure out that information technology was the best career path for you? Cooking was always a means to an end for me, and after getting an Accounting Degree I knew that I needed something more challenging, something that wasn’t going to be redundant for the next 40 years of my life. IT continues to challenge me as I learn everyday, and from everything I see the industry never stops growing, which is exactly what I have been looking for.
When learning something new, what methods work best for you? I have found success in blending different methods together. I tend to watch videos on a new topic to get a baseline reference, and then I move to any sort of print material or online documentation. This helps me have a reference point when reading over the new topic. I will then use ANKI to develop flashcards of what I believe are key topics and then review them frequently. Lab-ing was a big help in my CCNA studies to solidify topics and really tie together how protocols functioned.
What motivates you on a daily basis? I am blessed to have a wonderful wife who deserves so much. She has persevered through even the toughest of times with me, without question, and for that I owe her the world. We are very fortunate to be in the situation we are where she is growing in her field and I have the ability to pivot to a new one. My current industry is very volatile, and I am fortunate to still have such a great job with so many restaurants closing these days. So I am taking advantage of the situation to ensure I do not have to endure such volatility in the future.
I absolutely love to hear these “types” of stories. I am referring to the situations where people pivot their careers. The reason is because doing so takes has a take a large amount of courage, drive, endurance, and really knowing “who you are” as a person. Chris definitely has all of these traits. I cannot even begin to fathom trying to change career paths at this point in my life. The ability and drive to see that you want a change in life and actually going through the process to accomplish that goal is incredible. Chris is definitely someone who has proven that he is willing to put in the time and effort to become an IT professional. Seeing him document his progress over the last six months has been really cool. I cannot wait to see Chris break into network engineering!