“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!
Emmanuel Pimentel (@MannyBytes88) was born and raised in New Jersey, but currently resides in Orlando, Florida, moving there in 2006. Manny is a Network Technician, working as a contractor in the transportation and tolling industry. He has a hybrid role, in which he assists in the management of both the network and server environments. While juggling college, Manny was looking for a way to break into the IT field. He decided to apply for a sales position in the computer department at a local Best Buy, but during the interview, the hiring managers quickly picked up his interest in tech, and found that he would be a better fit in a support role with Geek Squad. That just goes to show that displaying your interests and drive can open doors that you weren’t even looking to open! While with Geek Squad, Manny held positions as an Advanced Repair Agent and Covert Fulfillment Agent (remote Geek Squad agent). His time there gained him enough confidence and experience to book and pass both exams to become CompTIA A+ certified on the same day! Manny also credits developing his soft skills to his time at Geek Squad. After Geek Squad, Manny started with his current company as a Workstation Support Technician, prior to receiving a promotion to Network Technician.
For Manny, the draw to network engineering stems from senses of challenge and curiosity. He actually changed from majoring in general Computer Information Technology to majoring in Computer Network Engineering with a Cisco specialization because he wanted more of a challenge! While initially being intimidated, Manny accepted the challenge and has been “plugged into” (shameless, bad Tim pun) network infrastructure ever since. The draw to IT in general started in childhood with the Nintendo gaming system. From there it grew when he got his first PC and found out that he could dual boot to different operating systems. Manny’s ultimate goal is to become a Network Engineer. That being said, the role means much more to him than just the title. He is striving for all of the knowledge, responsibility and experience that comes with it. This goal motivates Manny each day to keep striving.
Alright Manny, We’ve Got Some Questions
What advice do you have for aspiring IT professionals? Never stop being hungry for learning and for your growth. Always dedicate some time to your own personal development whether it’s a half hour before or after work or a few hours or maybe even a day off. Your peers and management will take notice and it will help propel your career as IT evolves for what it seems like warp speed these days. Make sure you learn and grow your soft skills. As Aaron once said on the podcast, “Soft Skills Pay The Bills”. Believe it or not, you have no idea how important soft skills are. You can be very technical and the cream of the crop, but it creates an barrier when you’re unapproachable to work with by your peers, management, and your end-users/clients/customers.
What is something you enjoy to do outside of work? Gaming. RPGs are my favorite genre with great games like Final Fantasy but also love action games like Metal Gear Solid, Yakuza, Uncharted, etc, seriously I can go on and on. I’m a sucker for retro games so if I’m not playing a current-gen title, I’m playing an older title like Parasite Eve, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, GoldenEye, etc. The other two would be fitness and my two rides: 2007 Suzuki GSXR 600 and 2018 Subaru WRX STi Limited. If I’m not cruising around, I’m in my garage gym.
What is the next big thing that you are working toward? The biggest thing and main focus is obtaining my Cisco CCNP Enterprise certification with either the ENARSI or ENSLD aka “En-Salad” exam as my chosen concentration. The bigger picture is gaining more knowledge in the Route and Switch and Network Security space to become are more knowledgeable and well-rounded Network Engineer. That being said, I have a list of “side quests” that will aid in that along with accumulating experience such as: Juniper Networks JNCIA-Junos, Palo Alto Networks PCNSE, Cisco CCNP SISE, and Aruba Networks ClearPass Associate. I might even tackle the CCNP Service Provider track as that’s another level in the Route & Switch realm. These certs are loaded with knowledge that I feel would help develop me into a powerful, well-knowledgeable Network Engineer plus gaining experience as I grow of course.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
This is honestly a tricky one as I’m sure it is for many, if not all of us. For starters, I’m very strict on separating work from my personal life. Unless I’m on-call for the week or the back-up person, I don’t think or deal with anything relating to my job. Biggest way I accomplish this is I have two phone lines and phones for my personal use and for work. I love what I do, love my job, and the people there but I treat it as self-care that I’m mentally checked out so I can relax. Outside of that, I try to have a schedule or a routine. I always dedicate 1-2hrs of study/lab time before bed or first thing in the morning. I plan my workout days to both the time and muscle group I’m exercising. I even get in a quick jump-rope session during my work lunches when I’m working from home. I try to plan my meals Monday-Thursday. I figure it as one less unnecessary thing on my mind. Kind of like a “set it and forget it” kind of deal. Friday-Sunday, I like to mix it up and cook something random from Breakfast all the way to Dinner. Finally, I try to get in some non-study related time to unwind. Whether I’m relaxing and watching a show, reading a book, or getting in some game time. I usually leave this for the weekend as I’m in a grind mode Monday through Friday.
What is your favorite part about working in IT? You’re always exposed to new tech. Whether you work in the Private Sector which can be bleeding edge depending on the environment or in a more reserved environment like the Public Sector and Healthcare. You’re always exposed to something new. New piece of equipment and software tends to always mean new learning opportunities whether your company provides training, or you take it upon yourself to learn on your own time and be the SME on the new tech. I don’t like the idea of coasting permanently and never changing with the times. IT gives me that constant drive to learn as environments grow, new technologies emerge, and new skills are required and desired. Finally, because there’s so much to learn, it ignites a fire in me when I see my peers or my friends genuinely curious and wanting to learn what I’m doing or showing interest in specializing. What better way to validate your knowledge than by teaching what you’ve learned while also empowering your peers, am I right?
I’m definitely not making light of anyone else when I say this, but Manny is someone from the IAATJ community that I absolutely cannot wait to meet in person someday. He has that perfect balance of positivity, drive, determination, and compassion. When someone has a win or achievement posted within Discord or Twitter, Manny is always one of the first people with a “congratulations” comment. He is not only working hard to help himself to succeed, but he wants to see others succeed as well. I love the mentality he has around the win-win situation of teaching others to help them and yourself, it’s spot on in my opinion. Due to his curiosity and will for a challenge, Manny has had this nice, steady growth in his career thus far, and I fully expect that to continue.