Ep 72 – Cooking up a New Career

In this episode, we chat with Chris Randall. Chris was worked as a professional chef for over 13 years and has recently transitioned into a career as a Cloud Consultant. Chris’ work ethic, drive, and ability to communicate help him stand out and have gotten him noticed, on more than one occasion. We can all learn a lot from Chris’ recipe for success!

You can find more of Chris:
Blog: https://ipvpho.wixsite.com/frombitestobits
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IPvPho
GitHub: https://github.com/IPvPho
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-randall-%E2%98%81%EF%B8%8F-83a48572/

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A.J. Murray: [00:00:00] This is the art of network engineering podcast

in this podcast

and share the stories of felon networks.

Tim Bertino: Good morning folks to Bertino with you here live and the AONE traffic chopper we’re hover and high above the 4 0 4, where the traffic police definitely have their work cut out for them today. We’re seeing an abundance of one way traffic on all northbound egress points and our southbound and grass points have been totally saturated.

This all seems to be linked to a local construction crew, accidentally severing a major traffic back. With a backhoe. Unfortunately, that’s leading to a massive degradation of services all day. Today. The only vehicles we are seeing get in or out safely are [00:01:00] ones that have been given an F priority by their local authorities.

We’ll check back in later today, as the situation continues to develop, this has been timber Tino coming to you live above the 4 0 4 back to UAJ

A.J. Murray: N a O N E studios. Very appropriate well-timed intro from Tim given the Comcast outage today. That was fantastic. I can’t wait until Dan edits that and posts.

Andy Lapteff: When we hear the chopper sound. I almost, I almost started to do like a, but I didn’t want to

mess with Dan’s and post side. I just left it alone.

A.J. Murray: Oh, that’s going to be good. Nice, nice work, Tim. Nice work, Tim. He is at Tim Bertino. I am a AIJ Murray at no Blinky Blinky. How are you doing, sir?

Tim Bertino: Hey, damn good. I got to give credit.

That was another, uh, Jordan masterpiece. Thank you, Jordan. Uh, I am a little bit down about 10 minutes ago or so my son ran in here wearing his, uh, sheriff Woody [00:02:00] pajamas and Dan wasn’t here to get my

will at the time. That again, next time.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. Yeah, that was cute. That was cute. Andy at Andy left, half permit IP, Andy, andy.com. How are you, sir? Man.

Andy Lapteff: I’m great.

A.J. Murray: I know. You’re great. And I can’t wait for you to share why you’re

Andy Lapteff: great. Great. And I can’t tell anybody why. Sure

A.J. Murray: you can. This one’s not going to drop for like a month and a half.

Andy Lapteff: Yeah,

A.J. Murray: I’m good. Yup. Yup. Where’d it come from, Andy? Is there anything you can talk about,

Andy Lapteff: uh, specifically, what have you got told me on the spot, bro, basketball court today, maybe you could talk about, okay. Yeah, we did. We got a, we got a basketball court in the driveway, so, so my, my wife got a full ride on a basketball scholarship in college. So [00:03:00] she’s no, she’s no joke. And the kids are four and seven.

So no time, like the present to start training for scholarships and. Daddy daddy

wants to retire before he’s pooping

his pants. So we gotta get these kids to move in here in the, in the right direction. So we cut that later, but yeah, no, everything’s good, man. That my son loved it. We were out there tonight under the

light of headlights.

I mean, it was dark out in the driveway. He just didn’t want to stop playing. So yeah,

well, it was nice. Nice, nice. Everything’s good. What are we getting together soon? I think based on your, your new news that you can’t talk about, but I’m having a baby now. That’s not it moving on. How you doing? Hey Jay, what’s going on?

A.J. Murray: No, I’m doing, I’m doing real well. Um, E whether appear, it’s starting to turn cold, so I’m going into hibernation mode. Um, but yeah, no, uh, [00:04:00] other than that, doing good. What do you do for your fire pit? Uh, I cut down trees on my property. Oh,

Andy Lapteff: seriously? Okay. Yeah.

A.J. Murray: I’m not that I have a ton of property, but I had to shut down a trays and I don’t have a shit ton of trees anymore.

I’m trying to figure out how to fit a half quarter wood at my house and for my fire pit and it’s become a whole thing. So I don’t have trees to cut down

Chris Randall: anyway.

A.J. Murray: Nope, no. And I just stack it nicely to back your property next to your shed or something. Yeah. Good idea. All right. Temps are falling like a homesick rock, a deal that they were up in the sixties.

They popped back up there today, but they’re, they’re heading down. There’s snow in the mountains in Vermont. And, uh, pretty soon there’ll be snow all around my house and I will be questioning why once again, I live in the Northeast. So, um, I’m a few hours south of you quite a few hours. And it’s been in the mid thirties each night in Fahrenheit.

Been. Yeah, it’s happening. Yep. I’ve had to turn my heater on. [00:05:00] I’m not, I’m not happy about that. So when can I hold out till, uh, didn’t, didn’t make it very long this year.

And that sound means it’s time for the wind’s winning in our discord channel this week is Tim Mixi. He passed his AWS certified cloud practitioner. Congratulations, Tim track it. Pacer recently accepted a position as an avionics integration engineer at blue origin. Congratulations, Lexi. IPV four past his comp Tia sec, plus exam.

Congratulations, David Missy has passed the AWS solutions architect, associate exam. Congratulations, David and Jay finished his bachelor’s degree in it. Networking. Congratulations, Jay. That’s awesome. Very proud of that. Welcome to new Patriots this week. Jason Belk and teeth in Sachar. I hope I pronounce that.

Right. Thank you so much for your support of what we do here on the podcast and being a member of our Patrion [00:06:00] program. And also thank you to all of our listeners for your support, for what we do. We really appreciate it and couldn’t do it without it. Thank you so much. Now, back to the show, I am very excited for our guests to see evening.

Um, if you live on Twitter, like I do, you’ve probably seen him pop up there before. Um, I am honored to be able to share his story and, uh, Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Randall: Thanks. How’s everything going,

A.J. Murray: going well, um,

Chris Randall: let’s see here.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. Yeah, I know. We’ve, we’ve talked in the past about, uh, having you on here. So Chris, you’re excited

Chris Randall: to beyond.

A.J. Murray: I was going to say, tell your face,

Chris Randall: this camera so bad. I might as well. No, it’s fine. We just call that resting Chris’ face

[00:07:00] RFCs and RCS.

A.J. Murray: I don’t, I don’t even know where do we begin with Chris? I

Chris Randall: mean, how do we even start this?

A.J. Murray: What does Chris do now?

Chris Randall: So I just recently took on, um, a new opportunity at CDW in the ACE program. And so I’ll be focusing solely on Azure infrastructure for the next 12 months and then kind of grow from there in cloud.

So that’s my current,

A.J. Murray: what is ACE for people like me that

Chris Randall: don’t know what ACEs, so ACEs.

Um, ACEs like associate consulting engineer, and it is basically a fast track program where they build out, um, an itinerary education, different technical things that you have to do. So certain certifications based on your track. And then they have, um, the soft skills [00:08:00] side consulting, um, like shadowing and things that you do have traditionally consulting engineers over the course of time to get you prepared to be a full speed, like consulting engineer.

A.J. Murray: Very cool. So it’s a, a, a bootcamp of sorts.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Some say it’s like five to 10 years stuffed into. 12 to 18 months. Oh, that doesn’t sound stressful at all.

A.J. Murray: A bit intense.

Chris Randall: It’s a, it’ll be interesting. Um, they just changed the format too, so they knocked it down from 18 months to 12 months. So we’ll see. Wow.

I’m one of the first Guinea pigs for that socio fast.

A.J. Murray: Very cool. Very cool. Well, congratulations on that while you, you haven’t always worked in tech though.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Uh, definitely came from a different background. Um, started in food service for the last 13 years. Uh, wow. So, um, got started in high school. We had like, um, a [00:09:00] career center where you could go kind of pick, you know, I wanted to do welding.

I couldn’t get into the program cause they only took two kids. Culinary S uh, culinary class was open. So I took the opportunity. It was a free afternoon open, you know, we got to do three hours a day. They’re just cooking and playing with food. So I did that my junior and senior year of high school, and like really excelled at it.

Um, got some really good like stodgy opportunities, which in the culinary world is basically, uh, you work for free. And usually you’re doing kind of the grunt work, the hard work, just to prove that you deserve a position. Um, so an internship. Yeah. A highly unpaid work. Yeah. Um, so did that bounced around kind of my local area for a while ended up.

Where was that area, Chris? Where are you from? So I grew up in, uh, mid Michigan. So Midland or Mount pleasant, um, kind of small rural areas. We had, um, the one time we had a casino, it was like the biggest one in [00:10:00] the state. Um, so I ended up there for about two years, took over a steak house. Um, that was fun for a while.

And at the same time, I got the opportunity to go out to, um, Manhattan and work at what was then the number one restaurant in the world from the Michelin standard, um, 11 Madison Park. So let’s wait a minute, wait

A.J. Murray: a minute, wait a minute. How do you go from free, you know, free shit bird guy to like number one, Michelin new a LA.

Chris Randall: Uh, lots and lots of late nights and sharpening of knives. Um, you worked hard to being young and energetic and willing to put the time and energy into it gets you pretty far anywhere. Um, I sent an email. They was kind of, I wouldn’t say easy, but they’re always looking for people to come in and do free work and always try to keep a roster full of people.

So I had the chance to go for a week. [00:11:00] Um, chefs

A.J. Murray: work for free when they’re coming up. Like I worked in restaurants, so nobody worked

Chris Randall: for free well, and more legitimate restaurants, you know, like when you’re working higher end and you’re highly competitive to get in there. Um, some people go in for a day, some people spend a weekend.

Um, it’s not supposed to be that way, but it’s 10 tends to go that way. And you just

A.J. Murray: do that to get exposure, to get it on your resume. Like, Hey, I worked at such-and-such.

Chris Randall: Yeah. I mean, you want to see what’s going on in those environments. I mean, if anybody got the chance to go step into Google or Facebook or Microsoft for a week, you know, and there was really no, no hard ties there.

You could just kind of look around and absorb everything. Why not?

A.J. Murray: So how does one live in Manhattan without an income?

Chris Randall: So, luckily I was only there for a week, so it was just like a working vacation, if you will. Gotcha. It was actually quite the experience. We spent like eight hours touring, like all [00:12:00] the big spots before my first day.

And I had like, Broken open blisters on my feet before I went and worked 16 hours. So that was fun, man.

A.J. Murray: I said this school program or something like, how, how did you, how did you end up getting that, that

Chris Randall: opportunity? Um, so they kind of, like I said, they kind of keep postings open for positions. Um, they have massive staffs. Um, I think there was like 40 people in the back of the house. And I mean, Andy’s working kitchens.

You don’t usually have 40 cooks running around in the Babylon. That’s insane. Yeah. Well, when you’re doing like six figures for dinner sales to some notes, but like,

so for people who haven’t worked in restaurants,

A.J. Murray: you’re talking like a hundred thousand dollars, plus some meals serving in a night is that. Yeah, which is a lot of money

Chris Randall: for one dinner service. I think it was like $130,000 in like a five-hour span. So that’s what the restaurant

[00:13:00] sold

A.J. Murray: and meals five hours.

Chris Randall: Wow. $100 at the time, just to sit at the table for a person that didn’t do drinks or anything special.

A.J. Murray: And how so we’re probably going to talk about culture later in your current gig and what kind of people you’re working with right. In a place that was $300 to walk in the door, like are the staff is douchey as the clients coming in.

Chris Randall: So that place was really unique, right? Um, it’s highly competitive. There’s a bunch of kids my age and they’re not just like New York kids. They’re not just kids that graduate like culinary school. Like the chef at the time was from, I might butcher this. I want to say Denmark, but I think that’s wrong. But so he had a bunch of like, um, Northern European kids there and there’s probably 15 or 20 and they’re all fighting for their thesis.

Um, they’re all, they’re like, this is, this is their, their lives. Um, so they’re pretty heads down working hard. Um, they were pretty willing to help out. They had a good culture [00:14:00] there. Um, probably one of the better ones I’ve been involved in. Um, but very robotic at the same time. So

A.J. Murray: you’d her. Those, you, you, you got good at this really early.

Chris Randall: Did you develop a passion for it or were you, you were good at it? It just made sense. So you just kept going on down the road. So a little bit of bowls. Um, you know, I grew up helping on my uncle’s farm. Like when I was 12, I spend my summers doing that. Um, so we had a lot of, I work ethic, like, you know, kind of ingrained already, and then you get into kitchens and it’s a lot of like hard work and manual labor.

So I was used to that aspect of it. Um, you know, I got to put food on the table and help out. So I, you know, I had to do it to survive. And then at the same time I found like I was good at it and I enjoyed doing it. Um, and for a while I had a passion, um, a couple incidents kind of burn that out, unfortunately, but at the same time, You know, Sandy may where I am now.

So I can’t complain about [00:15:00] that. And,

A.J. Murray: and you know, you’re right. Like, yeah. So burnout, it is a thing, right? It’s, it’s a tough, stressful environment. And it just dawned on me as you’re talking, man kitchens are tough, stressful environments. You want to see the worst of people, try to feed them expensive food.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it’s, you know, it’s weird too. It’s like, it’s not the expensive restaurants and the country clubs. I mean, you get some, you get some tough people there. It’s your mom and pop, you know, something for under $10. People like the casino when people are getting stuff for free or using the rewards points, like it’s the cheap skates that are the worst than the cheap restaurants.

You know, somebody who’s spending $10 and $10 means a lot. So those are some of the rough ones.

A.J. Murray: So when did you get like the Ooh LA LA gig? You went from like the free Manhattan come up, you know, stuff to, when did you land and

Chris Randall: become a big, uh, so I was kind of doing it right at the casino. Um, they [00:16:00] let me go for the week to go out to Manhattan.

They were really like excited. Um, but at the same time, there was a bunch of stuff going on, be out like outside our, um, control there. So they lost a lot of like sales and revenue. So at the same time, I’m literally on my way back from New York and a guy who runs like the nicest restaurant in town gets me up and he’s like, Hey, I want you to come over to run the rest.

Do your thing, free reign. Um, so I went over there and I had a pretty good strike going, but I just didn’t get along there. Um, there were just some value, differences and things. So that was really my first like big, big shot on my own. Um, had good feedback. I just, I didn’t sit into the culture. No, no, no.

We’re talking like 21, 22 at this time. Okay, cool. I mean,

A.J. Murray: that’s, that’s how it could be owned in the kitchen. Go run my kitchen. That’s impressive. Like my God, man.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Um, it, it’s interesting, especially like, you know, so you’re typically up until the day that I left [00:17:00] to switch into like tech. Um, I was still the youngest one in the kitchen managing everybody.

So, um, it was definitely a big learning curve, um, to manage people who are two or three times your age and you hear like, oh, could be your mom. It could be your grandma.

Um, but it taught me a lot of really good lessons that I met a lot of really great people along the way. Um, we actually had like the biggest. Probably the biggest jump and chance have ever taken in my life, my girlfriend and I, like I said, the last restaurant that I spoke of, um, it wasn’t working out and, um, I was looking for something different.

Maybe take a break. I was burnt out, um, just bad situation after tough situation. Um, so I was going to school. I had the ability to take like three months off. Um, I wasn’t working and I had somebody hit me up down in Georgia. And they were like, Hey, we got this really high end. Like our [00:18:00] dining club wants you to come down.

See my right-hand man, you know, do that. Um, and so the wife and I came down here and she’s in food service since it’s signed suit at the time too. So like, um, it kind of worked out and, um, we took the jump down here. It’s going on four years now. Um, I ended up at a private dining club. It was extremely bougie.

Um, there was no golf course or nothing like that. Like you just came in and it was like $500 a member per month before you even ate. It’s crazy. So we got to do a bunch of fun stuff there, um, but it just. It wasn’t paying the bills. And so I was fortunate the last gig I had. Um, I ended up as a food service director for a fortune 500 company here in town.

Um, managing all their restaurants, um, through different properties that they have through town, um, doing other catering, some other big week dinners, things like that. So that was really what I kind of got my big [00:19:00] shop, um, doing the full manager of a multimillion dollar account for a fortune 500 client. Um, I think I was 25 at the time.


A.J. Murray: that’s incredible. So you’ve talked a few times about like, um, you know, somebody hits you up, like, Hey, like you, you obviously have a reputation. Like how did you, you socialize that reputation, right? Like, I’m, I’m curious, like how does somebody live in up in Michigan, get a phone call from someone down in Georgia and be like, Hey, I want you to come run this thing.

Like, how did that happen? Is there like a LinkedIn for chefs?

Chris Randall: Well, so thankfully, like who was down here was an old, personal contact. Um, that course that I went to in high school, like the after hours program, um, it was somebody that I met from another local high school. And so we kind of stayed in contact, um, throughout the years when he moved away.

And then [00:20:00] I came down here. Um, but otherwise, like all my other opportunities have come through kind of similar to what’s happened now. Um, Instagram was a big one for me. And Facebook, you know, for food because everybody’s looking on there, you know, that’s when the popularity, the rise in popularity of like, um, Facebook pages for restaurants and, um, Yelp and all those other things.

And so I kind of threw myself out there. I’d take pictures, you know, we’re posting stuff, we’re getting the restaurants to post stuff, doing videos, doing, um, dinners out in the garden, wine dinners, specialty stuff, just trying to catch everybody’s attention and kind of be enough hashtag or

A.J. Murray: so say you’re building these like beautiful plates of food and you’re snapping some photos.

I’m just throwing them out there for

Chris Randall: everybody to see. Yeah. And I’ll tell you, the photos don’t look as good on an iPhone six as they do. Yeah, 13. So I think I’ve still got some folk around back there, so we’ll blame it on the phone. Nice. [00:21:00]

A.J. Murray: That’s great. That’s great. What, what an incredible story. I mean, I, I, I didn’t know the depth of all of this.

Like I knew he came from the food service industry. I didn’t realize like at what level you were playing at. So what, what precipitated the move? Like, it seems like you’re, you’re kind of like at the top of your game, like, I can only imagine what it may have been, but I, I, you know, I want to know from you.

Chris Randall: Yeah. I mean, um, I have. Some really good opportunities. Some that I squandered that I wish I would’ve stayed at at least longer. Um, had some other opportunities. I wish I hadn’t taken, um, got a little overzealous and excited. Um, but I had really the opportunity. I mean, if we wanted to move, I could have went wherever and, you know, humbly probably fell in wherever I wanted to.

Um, but as you know, like restaurants are nights and weekends and holidays. And so, um, I miss like, Hey, Thanksgiving’s in a row, uh, [00:22:00] with. And so like, my birthday happens to fall on the 24th of November. So like, um, this year and Sunday before Thanksgiving, there’s been times where my birthday spent on Thanksgiving.

Um, and that’s one of the biggest days of the years. So as I started to settle down with my girlfriend, fiance now, wife, um, you know, priorities changed. And then, um, I was in a really good position where I was, um, as food service director, I could have stayed there for probably as long as I wanted to, but long-term, it wasn’t a 20, 30, 40 year option.

At some point I was probably going to have to go back to nights and weekends. And so I really didn’t want to give up the lifestyle, you know, the family time and all those things. So, um, fortunately. Um, you know, COVID hit and the opportunity kind of arose where I said, like, you know, I’m watching all my friends lose their jobs.

I’m watching restaurants close all these things. And for me, I was still stable in my [00:23:00] position. Um, we didn’t have a lot going on on campuses. So, um, at that point I had to take a step back and say like, I’ve got to figure out something more along. Um, I’ve got to figure out something that’s going to be equitable.

Um, and something that’ll keep me entertained because that’s one thing about food service. And especially being a chef is like, you’re constantly stimulated and going. And if you want to be good at it, you’re constantly learning and trying new things. And that’s something that I’ve always, I’ve always enjoyed about it.

And so, um, texts always have, I’ve always liked to play around with things. So, um, I had the time at work. I started dabbling around and looking around, um, and that’s kind when I made that decision, like, I need to jump into this whole time because if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.

A.J. Murray: So you said COVID was a pivot point, I guess, but it didn’t sound like you lost your job or lost any money.

So how did it play into you saying, eh, maybe if we’re not in restaurants.

Chris Randall: So my position was contracted, um, and actually in the midst of [00:24:00] COVID we resigned like a five-year deal. Um, but those aren’t like concrete and given nobody. Clue. I mean, we had like 4,000 people on property. Now you’re sitting at like 70 people on property with no intention to return.

So you see the writing on the

A.J. Murray: walls, I guess. How, like how long can I be in this

Chris Randall: environment? Maybe? Yeah. I mean, thankfully the, the company that I contracted for was an awesome company. Um, and it kinda had come full circle on me again. Um, I could tell that story off camera as much as I can name names of that company, but, um, yeah, it was just one of those things where I saw it.

Like, you know, before I lose my job, let me have something, you know, in backup. Cause obviously like we are solo down here in Georgia. We’re a thousand miles away from family. We don’t have. You know, safety net other than ourselves. So, you know, we had to, I had to make a move and it felt like the right one.

A.J. Murray: How does one start looking to figure out how to get a [00:25:00] job in tech? Right? Like what do you do there? I’m a chef. I want to work in tech. Like I was a cable guy, at least I was playing with things and like plugging things in and had a meter. I could read like signals. Like, how did you, how did you start?

Right? Where do you start?

Chris Randall: You’re starting points zero. Yeah. I mean, I had kind of dabbled in the idea before, so cooking was always a means to an end. And I had actually went to college to be an accountant. Like I want to be a CPA of all things. And so, um, I’m like six classes from getting my bachelor’s in accounting.

And I had a local contact who was ran his own accounting firm. And he was like, you know, come in, sit down and we’ll talk. Um, I sit there and he’s like, you’re a little too old. Coming to count was 23 at this time. So it was like, okay, I guess, I guess the specialist degree wasn’t worth it.

A.J. Murray: You’re too old to be an accountant at 23.

Is that what he said?

Chris Randall: Yeah. And he told me, by the time [00:26:00] I sat for my CPA and got everything, it’d be like 26 or 27 and I’d be too old entering the game too late. I was like, oh,

A.J. Murray: wow. So,

Chris Randall: um, I had taken a couple of computer classes and in college, so, and dabbled around with the idea. Um, I had been introduced to Python, a couple other things and.

Of all things. It’s probably about a year before this happened, I’d come across like network check videos. Um, this was like in its early days. And so I hadn’t remembered that when I came back around and I was like looking through my YouTube history and I know this guy is in here somewhere. Um, so I found it and I just started going through that and it was like, I need to know if I’m going to figure out where I go.

I need to figure out what I want my specialty or be. So I should’ve started playing around with different things and like being a CIS admin had like, didn’t sound fun at all. Um, Programming was not going to be my saying, well, kind of like programming. Um, and I like playing with that like dev ops [00:27:00] side. Um, but that seemed like a really steep curve.

Um, and one day I was sitting there and the internet went out and I was like, I need to figure this out. I have no idea how it works. And so it just kind of started to snowball on it. And that’s when I decided to like, look into networking. Did you really even have anybody to bounce ideas off of, or ask questions of, it sounds like you were doing a lot of this on your own for the most part.

I had a colleague who is pretty good with computers, he’s built, you know, a couple playgrounds, a bunch of stuff over the last 20 years. And so I could hang like basic questions off of him, um, which was really helpful to come and get the ball rolling. And then after that, it was just jumping in head first, spending hours upon hours with like a headache, trying to figure out what was going on and what was, what and how things were interconnecting.

And, um, so it was kind of a solo show.

A.J. Murray: You weren’t connected to any kind of community at right. You didn’t know that it was out there

Chris Randall: at that point. [00:28:00] No. And how far into the learning on your own, the, the dabbling, the trying different things. Did you decide that you were going to try to apply for something and, and how did that work?

I didn’t apply for anything. Um, just cause I knew that there was going to be like a massive pay cut going from, you know, being in a director position to jumping over. So it was like, I know that I, at least for now I have time to build up the skillset. So I think the first time I applied was actually.

It’s a job offer was made to me. It’s, you know, um, when Frank’s reached out. But other than that, like the first time I applied, I got the job, thankfully.

A.J. Murray: So was this a long game for you? Because anytime I hear somebody say I took a pay cut to pivot, it always gets my attention. Right? Like who’s looking to make less money.

You’re an established guy. You had a propensity to be a great chef. You’re running stuff. Like that’s a big risk [00:29:00] or a big move. I mean, I get the insight that you had with COVID-19 maybe, you know, I look into tech, which is this thing, but how do you, like, it’s just you and your wife, you’re on your own.

You’re a thousand miles away from family and you’re going to take a pay cut. That’s a, that’s a big brisk,

Chris Randall: right? Yeah. I mean, thankfully we were like in fortunate position where, you know, I was making enough money where. You know, a good buffer. Um, but it’s, I mean, it’s as tight as it can be kind of thing.

Um, you know, we had to do some things like get rid of some toys, sell it. Sure. Um, you know, cut back on all the fun activities, but I look at it, you know, 2, 3, 5 years down the road, if I can break even to where I was and, you know, essentially double what I was making then, um, in the long run it’ll be worth it, but

A.J. Murray: like had her support,

Chris Randall: right.

She was on board and that’s what I wanted to bring up. Were you dating engaged or married at this point? So the entire time we’ve been married [00:30:00] since I’ve started district, are those conversations like

A.J. Murray: when and my job and make less money. Isn’t this cool. Never checked out. We didn’t do.

Chris Randall: That’s kind of what I wanted to know. Did, could she see, could she kind of see the writing on the wall with you that, Hey, I, you were thinking you might want to pivot or, or did you kind of keep that to yourself? No. Yeah, we have, um, we have an extremely open relationship and communication. And so over the years she kind of knew, and I’ve been open about that.

Like, you know, long-term this, isn’t like, it’s fun now, but isn’t when I’m 40. Or if we have kids, there’s something that I want to be. Um, and so what I started to tell her about it, I mean, you know, all my other kooky crazy ideas, she was just like, okay. And what’s funny about that is like, I circled back with her after of course everything started happening.

[00:31:00] Um, I was full of my hair out, cause it was a whole bunch of stuff. I didn’t know when I took on the fridge like position doing contract work. And she’s like, I don’t know. And like the next thing, you know, like I got the network admin position and she’s like, no, I wasn’t, I wasn’t sold that. You were going to do this for the first couple of months.

And then when I started seeing you for six, eight hours a day, like after work in the office, like studying what I saw you like sitting on the couch with headphones and watching videos, like falling asleep, watching videos and doing stuff. She’s like, I knew you were committed. And I knew if you were going to do it, it was going to happen.


A.J. Murray: wow. There’s a lesson in that, right? Like. You can make that decision and commit to something and just everybody in this industry, right? Like you just, you put your head down and you just grind away and you have to do it in your spare time and nights, weekends, like whatever, like just. Yeah. It’s a lot of work right.

To break

Chris Randall: in [00:32:00] sometimes. Yeah, no, I mean, that’s one thing, like, you know, posting on Twitter and discord and all that, like all the fun stuff and the winds and things like that. It’s always exciting. But like, I think one thing to be like proud of the chair is like, you know, the fails and the grind as well, because like I would sit at work and all my downtime and read and like go home and like give up, you know, family time or time with the dogs playing video games, like going on trips, you know, committing my time to that.

And so there was a sacrifice, I mean, fortunately things have fallen in my lap if you will. Um, you know, I’ve been very fortunate in that aspect, but you know, the hard work siren, if you’re willing to put it in, I think, you know, you’ll be repaid for it.

A.J. Murray: Choose passion, right? Like who the hell is going to do that?

So, if they’re not interested in into it, you know, like you just can’t, you can’t, long-term fake something like that now, subnetting, like just, you know, one thing after another, I mean, you really gotta be interested.

Chris Randall: Right. And even at that, I mean, like, [00:33:00] I’m like super excited about like Terraform and infrastructure’s code right now.

And like every day I’m pulling it up and doing that. I’m like, I got to step away from this today before I burnt myself out. Because like too much of a good thing, you know, Hey,

A.J. Murray: Awan fans AIG here for an ally, never heard of the ally. Sure. You have. They came from the same group of engineers that brought us network tools from flute networks NetScout and now their net ally.

They know networking. I’m a network engineer for a partner. And when I go to a customers and see, they use net net, ally, I know it’s going to be so much easier to troubleshoot issues. We might run into the name may have changed in an ally, but the way they build tools, hasn’t changed a bit. They ask what would a network engineer want to help make their job faster and easier.

And then they go build it just like this ether scope. NXG that ally is here to help that ally simplicity, visibility, collaboration, visit net ally.com today. Now back to the show. So I, I kind of want to take a step back, like, let’s talk about what it [00:34:00] was like to try to break into that first tech job. Like you you’d been studying for a while.

You’re building up the skills, you know? So, so let’s, let’s see, like what, what was the job? What was the process? What was that like? Like obviously somebody saw like, you know, that they had an opportunity to present to you and they took a chance on you.

Chris Randall: Um, It was interesting because I was sitting on Twitter, like at work, the one there, and all of a sudden they get like a, a DM from some random guy.

And he’s like, Hey, I think I have an opportunity for you. You know, here’s my WhatsApp number, get a hold of me. That’s like, okay. You know, this could be fake, but if it’s five or 10 minutes of my time, what’s five or 10 minutes. So I get a hold of this guy and like, um, as I’m on the phone with him, I’m looking him up and like, everything he’s saying is true.

He’s like a forward Cisco guy. He, you know, we’re kind of high up for like 18 years there moved back to Euro, started his own network automation company. They, you know, they’re kind of [00:35:00] been up and running for like four years now. They’re like, okay, this sounds legit. But everything he’s saying is like way over my head.

And he’s like, don’t worry. Like, you know, we just need some help and we’ll help you along the way. I just want to give you a shot because you looked like energetic. And, um, you know, I liked that you’re trying, and that you’re willing to put yourself out there, so, oh, wait a minute. Their secret

A.J. Murray: sauce here.

Yeah, you’re tired. You’re not qualified. You don’t have the skills, but he sees something in you. And he’s like, I’m going to teach you that this is, I hear this a lot. Right. People say, oh, I’m not, I’m not good enough. I’m I qualified. Like you, you reach. There there’s something to me. I mean, I look at my own story.

There’s something about reaching beyond your comfort level and saying yes to things. You’re not sure you can do, because on the other end of that conversation, that person sees something in, you believes in you, you know, like, I feel like an imposter a lot of times, and one time I had a director be like, oh yeah, sure.

Everybody has it wrong. And you’re so clever. You have everybody [00:36:00] fooled, right? Like this guy saw something in you and pulled you, pulled you into this. So what’s the secret sauce. What did he see? So your commitment, he saw your passion, he saw your working hard. Like how did you pull that off? Because

Chris Randall: that’s no joke, right?

Yeah. I mean, you know, you gotta be honest out there and tell people what you’re doing. I mean, even if it’s not big, exciting stuff, like, you know, I came from cooking. Practicing some diving here. I am like trying to throw a physical lab together, even though I have no idea, like what ramen is. And last guy doesn’t know what the password was like, you know, just, I think networking is one of the biggest things that people like undervalue.

And I don’t mean in the physical sense. I mean, like, you know how we we’ve all connected. Um, he found you on Twitter, ISA.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. And on Twitter you had been posting your study journey, your lab building, you’re sharing it right.

Chris Randall: Saying I’m doing okay. All my interactions. Um, I think I posted some videos, like wiring up my physical lab and trying to go through some things, ask some questions, [00:37:00] kind of posts or whatever chapter I was on, things like that.

Um, and he had followed me for like a month and I didn’t even realize that he was, you know, he’s like Abbot to watching your journey. I think it’s really cool. Um, I think, you know, I want to take a chance just because you look like somebody who will take, take advantage of it. Did you have any

A.J. Murray: certifications?

No. Okay. So everyone out listening, I’m just trying to figure out how to break into it or networking. No certifications, no computer science degree, no experience. But you started, you made the decision, you made a commitment, you started grinding away. You shared your journey with the community and somebody saw your passion and your drive and your interest and gave you a job, right?

Is that what you’re telling

Chris Randall: us? I mean, I was getting paid to do technical documentation for network automation tools. Company, halfway around the world, you know, and I had [00:38:00] never logged into an ID for more than 10 minutes and I had no idea what it was or how to pull down a repo. Um, I pretty much sat there for a week.

Couldn’t get on the VPN, um, all those instructions for real. So,

A.J. Murray: um, so if you weren’t connected to the tech community and you weren’t sharing and writing your story and making videos that job, it doesn’t sound like it would have happened. Right? You, you needed, you needed to tell the world what you were doing for the sky to be able to

Chris Randall: find you, right?

Yeah. I mean, without the network piece, without the community things, I mean, I wouldn’t be here. Um, it’s, you know, it helped with that because somebody was watching and it was at the right place at the right time. Um, especially the way Twitter algorithms work and things like that. I was fortunate in that aspect.

Um, you know, and then at the same time, I like to end up in this community as well was just through random, like Spotify searches, I’m looking for podcasts and things like that. [00:39:00] And it was, I think you guys are only a couple months into, so it was by happen chance or happenstance that I came across that, um, and like, if you’re out there and don’t be afraid to like throw whatever you’re working on out there half the time I was just throwing like, Hey, this is the chapter I’m working on.

Then somebody would pipe it in and like, Hey, if you need help or, Hey, this is a really good method or something like that. I mean, I got a lot of really valuable tidbits that way. Just like sharing what I was doing for the day.

A.J. Murray: Still trying to process everything here. This is such an incredible, incredible journey and incredibly short too. So like w when did you like. Door to door. When did you leave the cooking industry? And when did you start in the tech industry? Like how we talk in months, years, decades, not decades. I

Chris Randall: know. But are you talking like started like the study journey or just like,

A.J. Murray: well, I like [00:40:00] w from the time you left the, the, your position working in the cooking or food industry to, to landing your first tech job let’s can we start with a decision was made when you made a decision?

That you wanted to work in tech and you were going to start taking action from that decision until you landed that job. How long did that take?

Chris Randall: It was February of this year. Um, end of February that I landed at CCNA. It was on a Friday. Um, you did have your CCNA. I wanted to ask you about search. So I got the first contract before my CCNA and then about a month and I landed my CCNA.

Um, and then I took about, let’s see, I took about two months, um, kind. I was just like, I gotta do it. If, you know, I don’t want to start losing information. I want to make the jump financially. We were able to make some decisions that allowed it. And so by may, into [00:41:00] early June, I made the decision to start applying, um, locally or for remote positions.

So I think I applied to about a half dozen or so before I got a call back, it was less than a year. Yeah. So about three months I

A.J. Murray: felt, yeah. February to may. So you made a decision in February, you got a gig in may. It’s, you’re one of those guys. It’s hard to like Chris,

Chris Randall: I’ve been extremely blessed and fortunate for the opportunities that have followed my way.

A.J. Murray: So that first consulting company, is that something you’re still doing on the side? Are you still working with them? Um,

Chris Randall: so I was with them for about six months and as I transitioned over. Um, because I did transition over to the DOD and things like that.

Um, it was just best interest to not have ties to foreign companies. So that was

A.J. Murray: the [00:42:00] automation guy, right. From your book, you started with technical documentation. Is that what you said? So,

Chris Randall: yeah, so like all of their, um, on their website, all their documentation, all their white papers, everything like that.

I was tasked with restructuring rebuilding, um, and putting a less technical spin on it. And at the same time I was supposed to study it so that I could start helping with like troubleshooting projects. Gotcha.

A.J. Murray: Gotcha. So from there, where did you go next?

Chris Randall: So after that, I ended up, um, it was July of this year.

I ended up with the DOD, um, and a local, a local office here on base as a network admin. And so kind of. It was an interesting set up just the way everything’s going. But there was like three local networks, um, nothing too complicated. And, uh, it was very slow, very, very slow.

A.J. Murray: How do you get a job at the DOD?

Aren’t they like [00:43:00] military people are like, did you have to get clearances? How does that

Chris Randall: happen? Yeah. So, um, got a clearance, which ironically or coincidentally, uh, My clear, showed up on my last day with them. But, uh,

A.J. Murray: well you have to be sponsored to get a clearance to

Chris Randall: sponsor. Yeah. Yeah. So the contracting company, um, is that it’s a company that I contracted through sponsored.

And then, um, we worked with the DOD and then, um, to government, to the government in the military, um, on the project that they had going on. So it was kind of a cool little setup, got to see some different things. So I really slow walk into stuff. Um, but then again, there’s a lot of red tape there with DOD.

And like you said, having to get, um, clearance and things like that. So it took a while to get rolling. And then, um, I was only a couple of weeks and I was like two or three weeks in and the former network engineer who was. Like the CIS. So at the time was like talking to me, he’s like, how do you like [00:44:00] it?

And you know, it’s good. Um, it’s smaller than I expected that, you know, that’s fine. Um, you know, do everything that I can kind of goes, um, yeah, I know you’re going to outgrow it at some point. It’s kind of small, it’s kind of slow. I’m not a lot changes around here. So, um, all the big projects are kind of in place unless you have to like switch out, um, a switch or something like that.

Something dramatic happens. Um, but he goes, so I don’t foresee you being here more than like a year, a half or two years. Cause you probably outgrow it. And so that was kind of like a, I don’t want to say red flag, but it kind of. Um, light went off and I was like, well, if I’m going to put a year and a half or two years over here, you know, where do I want to be in a year and a half for two years?

Or where else could I be? Um, and so I just kind of had that thought. And then about a week later, um, I saw somebody posting about a associate consulting engineer position that kind of caught my attention, [00:45:00]

A.J. Murray: uh, a friend and a community that you,

Chris Randall: you even had that thought is kind of something not kind of, but it’s definitely something special about kind of your mentality and how you’ve gone through your

A.J. Murray: career is you got this job in, in, you’re already

Chris Randall: thinking about your next step and your long game and that kind of thing.

And that’s. That’s not something you see in everybody. So I think that, that says a lot about you and your character that you were already kind of seeing, Hey, this place is kind of slow moving. I’m trying to build a life out of being in the tech industry or doing tech related jobs. Maybe I need to already start looking at the next thing.

So that, that was really cool to hear you analyze that kind of right. Issue got into one door. Yeah. It was one of those like, um, you know, you did an opportunity and then the better opportunity always comes up right after. Um, and it was a hard decision. Um, I, you know, uh, you know, shout out to Weezy [00:46:00] net seq, wheezy for the opportunity I had kind of just inquired about what was going on, um, after he posted it and just what it was.

And so I had sat back for about two weeks and thought it over, talked to the wife and I was like, yeah, This would be a really fast move. I just got an opportunity. I mean, I’m locked in here. I can take it slow, take my time, you know, keep going, what I’m doing, and then try to jump up, you know, and run the rat race.

Or there’s this really like sounds too good to be true opportunity over here. Um, you know, should I go investigate that more? And you know, the wife is all important for it. So I started thinking wheezy a little bit more, a little bit more, and um, one thing led to another and it was just the right. It was the right path because other things were going on.

Um, you know, where I was already at that were just kind of like, yeah, this long-term, it’s not going to be the opportunity I want for myself.

A.J. Murray: Where did you see that post? Where do Weezy

Chris Randall: posts that [00:47:00] job? So, um, Weezie posted it up. I think it was in jobs. And I just so happened to come across it. Cause that’s one of those ones that I had needed at the time, the discord area yeah.

In the discord. And so, um,

A.J. Murray: so the community, another community platform. So I wanted to point at like Twitter got you that first gig and now, you know, different community platform. Plugged in, into the community seems to be paying

Chris Randall: off, right? Yeah. Um, networking and networking network, the network. Um, I had like only high conversations with Louisa you back and forth.

I mean, everybody knows he’s a huge cheerleader, um, super supportive guy. And so. Been back and forth with him on Twitter a little while, a little bit. Um, but never really chatted with them. And so I got to know him a little bit, going back and forth, um, in the discord in a one channel, just talking about like, Hey, what’s this opportunity?

What’s it look like? And that’s when, like he dropped it on me that he was [00:48:00] actually in the program. Um, and so he had like firsthand experience to tell me what was going on. And so that’s when, um, kind of started that process. So at that point twice out of the three opportunities I’d gotten, you know, networking and community.

Once again.

A.J. Murray: It’s nice to hear.

Chris Randall: Yeah, that’s incredible. So what do you have in front of you? You’ve got this,

A.J. Murray: uh, you said it was a 12 to 18 month ACE

Chris Randall: program that they’re trying to get you to get through it in 12. What does it look like after that? Are you working directly with customers or what are you going to be doing?

Yeah, so fall into a full-time consulting engineer position. Uh, post-sales doing deployments, um, things like that for, uh, customers, whether they’re returning things like that for Azure deployments, um, I’m on like the hybrid infrastructure side, so, uh, that’ll be exciting. And then [00:49:00] I’m hoping to develop more of like the infrastructure is code platform that they have.

Uh, hold on.

A.J. Murray: So it’ll be, you’ll be post-sales will you go install stuff, but you know, to cloud man, it’s just, it’s just, I mean, it’s right here to install. I mean, are you, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t understand, like, you know, it’s somebody else’s infrastructure, right? So what do you install posts if somebody’s going to want to connect to Azure and you’re going to help them connect to Azure?

Chris Randall: Yeah, it’s a lot of, um, Cut off hybrid blends of like taking their, you know, their Ady and moving up into the cloud. Um, maybe there’s some Greenfield deployments, things like that. My understanding is that there’s a lot of, uh, what you call it. They’re bringing over a lot of stuff into the cloud that they already had on prem.

Especially with everybody going to less of a physical [00:50:00] footprint these days with staff, you know, you don’t need the big buildings and things like that. So they’re just getting rid of physical infrastructure. Right. So

A.J. Murray: moving

Chris Randall: people up into the cloud. So yeah, I hear the cloud’s a big thing. It’s as big as you want it to be.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean,

A.J. Murray: that’s, that’s the place to be right

Chris Randall: now. Right? It’s it’s a very good direction. My opinion. Yeah. I think it’s, um, for me like the big, um, Attraction is that automation’s a big one for me. Um, that’s just how my brain works. I’m always like that concept. I do like some of the coding aspect and things.

So that’s where like infrastructure scout comes into play. Um, and just the mobility, I think, you know, going forward, you know, the work from home thing going on, things like that, the lack of physical hardware that people have access to think the cloud only gets stronger, um, over the next decade or two, which is really important for me.

So I wanted to be as ahead of the curve as I could be on [00:51:00] whatever I could do. So,

A.J. Murray: um, we’ve talked about it before, but I’m amazed at how quickly. The whole model has changed to like that just distributed, you know, instead of everything, you know, instead of going there, pinning through your hub for everything the way it was not that long ago now there’s just stuff everywhere.

It’s, it’s, it’s all distributed all over the place. It happened pretty quickly. I guess the COVID thing kind of accelerated it maybe right. With everybody at home. And, uh, I dunno, it’s, it’s been amazing to watch. Like when I started not too long ago, it was all on prem and I managed our data centers. And I blinked my eyes and multicloud and everything’s moving there and, you know, agile speed of deployment.

Go, go, go. Like it’s I, I see the benefits, right?

Chris Randall: It’s it’s real. Yeah. It’s a, COVID definitely had a massive impact on that. I mean, if you didn’t have everybody working from home and, um, needing the inter-operative operability of everything like that, I don’t think it [00:52:00] would’ve happened for. That’s five years or so you went up sold so many people and then, you know, with the supply chain things going on too, people can’t get physical hardware.

It’s like, well, why not go to the cloud? And at the same time, if you do it right, you know, you can be efficient in your cost. And, you know, maybe save a little bit of money. What’s

A.J. Murray: magical to me is the ability to spin up capacity instantly. Like as one example, when COVID hit, I work for a large company and just everybody went home and they did not have the capacity with our VPN infrastructure in our data centers to accommodate that.

So you were constantly getting kicked out. It would take an hour and a half to get logged in in the morning. And it all got spun up in a cloud provider. It was overnight. And we went from, nobody could connect for weeks to consistently to like, oh, there it is. You know? I mean, that’s, you know, how long from a guy who’s been building.

Infrastructure in on-prem data set. It [00:53:00] takes forever to get that crap rack stack, working circuits, like, you know, whatever you need to add capacity and to be able to do it instantly in the cloud. And that’s just the speed at which things are moving. This is just really insane. And the cloud enables that.


Chris Randall: really cool. Yeah. That’s crazy. You going from like, you know, building simple networks and doing all this stuff in the CC and I, and my like network admin stuff, and then turn around and like hop in Azure and even like through Terraform and things like that, just spin up. Here’s a, of the net. And within that, I can just drop some nets and it’s all in just a matter of like 30 seconds, it can be spun up.

I mean, all that works, but. In the background. So it’s crazy to see you kind of like, I don’t wanna say old school, but you know, it was a very traditional and, um, you know, physical way to do it and then go hop into the extremely virtualized side of it and see how quick it is. And so I don’t want you to give away company secrets or anything like that, but [00:54:00] can you, can you kind of

A.J. Murray: unpack this, uh, this ACE program

Chris Randall: it’s really intriguing to me that they, they bring people in that, in this case you didn’t have any cloud experience, but they’re willing to put you through this 12 to 18 month program, kind of at a high level.

What does that program look like? Do they got you going through Azure certification programs? Are you just shadowing other team members all day? What does it look. Yeah. So, um, I’ve only been there a couple of weeks too, so take everything with a grain of salt, but, um, um, and if anybody from CDW have only been there two weeks, so take it with a grain of salt.

But so yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty well kept secret. It’s one of those things where, I mean, CDW is massive. I think, you know, well over the 10,000 employee mark, and they’re constantly trying to, you know, keep the pipeline stacked with like talented [00:55:00] individuals and passionate individuals. And that was a big thing that was thrown at me.

I think I had five or six interviews during the process, um, with people from the program and above the program and, you know, it was all management and things like that. Some technical interviews, some consulting, interviews, things like that. And what they’re really looking for is somebody who’s passionate and driven.

Um, they said, you know, we can teach you the technology, but we need somebody who’s going to show up and want to do it. And also somebody who can speak to people, um, because you know, as Adrian with now being a consultant, things like that, you have to talk to a variety of people and, you know, be able to translate everything that’s going on.

Um, effectively of all sides of it. So secret

A.J. Murray: sauce, Chris, secret sauce, passion drive and communication. That’s I hear this a lot and I’ve experienced it myself. We can teach you the tech, what we see your passion. We can see that you’re [00:56:00] driven and you’re able to communicate, oh my God. There are the three

Chris Randall: things right there.

I’ve got the cheat code, right? Like I was a manager for the out of those 13 years in food service. So, you know, I know what to look for people that I know what I was looking for. So, um, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. And be that person that gets noticed because yeah, call it cheating or maybe even brown nose, but you know, kind of, you have to know how to play the game a little bit too as well.


A.J. Murray: we have to be good with people. And that’s what I was thinking. As you were telling your story earlier in the restaurant business, I mean, it’s a people business, right? Like. You’re working with people. You’re feeding people. It’s, you’re constantly interfacing with people and communication and nonverbal communication picking up on cues.

Like, yeah, you, you build all those skills, right. And, and that gig, and now it’s transferable, but I’ve been, I I’ve been given jobs by the way that I was underqualified for. And they told me the same exact thing. We can teach you the tech, we see you’re passionate, you know, home lab, community [00:57:00] engagement, whatever, you know, we can see that you’re driven.

You have certification, just study a lot, you know, when you can communicate. And that’s what we need. And I’ve heard that from a lot. I’ve been on a lot of interviews. Just, you just got me all excited. Those three things, I think have been my secret sauce so far. And it seems to be working for

Chris Randall: you too. Yeah.

I mean, people want to work with people who they like, you know, and they can get along with us and we’ve all worked with the wrong person. And so, you know, especially when you’re going to invest so much into somebody from a technical aspect like that, or be somebody who, you know, is going to show up, want to do it, you can turn your head and not have to worry about what they’re doing in the background.

And like in this program, I mean, I’m sitting at home, you know, and being, being that work from home makes it even more challenging because for me, I don’t have that face to face contact. Like you said, you know, where I can kind of start to network in person, which is a little bit easier. Um, now trying to do every single for meetings, virtual meetings and things like that.

So, um, a curve ball for me, but, [00:58:00] you know, having the accountability and things to do my studies, do my, you know, keep up on my tasks, things like that happen and network where I can and do what I have to do. Um, you know, that’s going to be, you know, where you start showing up. Showing that you’re really passionate about what you’re doing.

Cause you’re just keeping up on everything without anybody telling you to.

A.J. Murray: And I didn’t mean to Pivotus away from Tim’s question. Just a fantastic question. I just got excited. So you’re doing the certification stuff. You’re learning Azure, you’re shadowing people. That is, that, is that the

Chris Randall: crux of the program?

A.J. Murray: How are they getting skilled

Chris Randall: up specifically? Yeah, it’s um, I mean, imagine just like college courses or anything like that. They, you know, they build upon each other and there’s like a soft skill side to it as well as the technical side. And they blend in together. Um, There’s certain tracks that we have to go down that are predefined for us and being like a Microsoft partner.

Um, we have pretty good access to all those Azure stuff. We’ve got like O’Reilly learning and LinkedIn and CBT [00:59:00] and things like that. So, um, we kind of have keys to the kingdom when it comes to education and resources, which is really nice. Um, uh, thankful for that because every time I’ve needed something it’s been there

A.J. Murray: and you’re afforded the time during the day to learn stuff, right?

Like, is your job right now? Just to learn, to get certified.

Chris Randall: Yeah. So really for the next 12 months, my whole job is to be learned, to be the best Azure engineer that I can be. Um, we’ve got, uh, like I said, we blend in like those shadowing and consulting, so you get that side of it. Um, and that takes up part of your time, but as well, Right now 60, 70, 80% of my time is just burnt up with studying and I’m going through all the technical content trying to get through it.


A.J. Murray: fantastic. You’re going to be a beast at the end of a year. It’s

Chris Randall: just

gonna be,

A.J. Murray: you know, and that is your beast, right? Sorry.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it will be interesting. So I just have like my [01:00:00] first meeting and went over goals. I still have to get my security plus, which I’ve been studying for, for like four months. So, um, but I’ll have it done at the end of the month. I’ll have, I’m going to sit for my easy 1 0 4, which is like the intermediate, like admin exam.

Um, I’ll set it for that before the end of the year and hopefully pass that. And then by the end of February, I’ll probably have the Linux like certified administrator. And then by may I plan on having the Azure expert certs, so it’s going to be fast paced.

A.J. Murray: Wow. How does one lab for cloud studies? I kind of know the answer because I was on the AWS track for a minute, but just for people listening, you know, you build, you said earlier you built a physical lab.

So if you’re studying cloud, how do you lab cloud?

Chris Randall: Yes, it was a really cool thing about that is, uh, um, Azure, like Microsoft offers. Uh, 12 months, um, free trial with like $150, $200 credit for your first month. And then AWS has the same thing for [01:01:00] like 12 months. You can hop on, they have a free tier, so you can go play with things.

And so, um, if you go hop on, like Microsoft has a really good setup or on Microsoft learn, um, it takes you through all the topics that they built themselves that attached to the different certs. And then, you know, you can go take that because some of them have integrated labs to go hop on your free account and just start playing around with it.

And as long as you don’t mess anything up, which if you’re trying to learn, you can learn your billing instructions and things like that. Um, you don’t spend any of your personal money and you can have a, basically a virtual.

A.J. Murray: Set billing alerts, right? That’s

Chris Randall: the key there? Yeah. I got scared. I got one this morning from AWS and I haven’t played with that in like four months.

Um, it was only like $7. I’ve seen people with like five digit bills come through because it didn’t shut something off.

A.J. Murray: And I’ve heard that. Oops. I forgot to turn something off. All flips

Chris Randall: a $5 alert on that one. [01:02:00] We’ve got like a, an allowance at work, which is nice. Um, and then on top of that, it’s pretty restricted so that we don’t go spending too much company money.

A.J. Murray: Oh man. Uh, th this is just absolutely incredible. I, I hate to say it, but we’re coming to the end of our hour here, Chris. And yeah, I know. Right. Um, anything that you want to like cap this off with, you know, advice that you have for people, either looking to break in or, or jump from one career to another, such as you have done, what what’s, what’s the best words of wisdom that you wouldn’t want to give them?

Chris Randall: I think the one thing is that you’ve got to be able to try, um, and it’s worth it. If you put the effort into it, um, the opportunities are out there. Um, you’re going to have to go outside of your comfort zone to find them, but they’re there. If you’re willing to go and if you’re willing to go find them, they’re there for you.

And so it might not seem like it at first telling me that I went six, eight months and. [01:03:00] Didn’t seem, I didn’t know if it was going to happen. And then all of a sudden it just, it clicked and, you know, so, um, you know, be networking, always be laughing, all those fun things, but just put yourself out there.

A.J. Murray: I love it from, uh, from like culinary master chef to a.

Cloud network engineer, what an incredible journey. Uh, Chris, thank you so much for joining us this week. Uh, thank you so much to all of our Patriots. Uh, if you’re interested in joining the Patriot and hanging out with us every week here you can do so@patrion.com forward slash R of net enj. And, uh, Chris, if people want to follow you, learn more about you, where can they do that?

How can they do that?

Chris Randall: Um, so it’s IPV folk on all the handles, um, IPV, pho,

A.J. Murray: um, and so good by the way, I just want to give you props it’s it’s a great, awesome.

Chris Randall: I actually have people with. It’s actually, [01:04:00] it’s a Vietnamese soup, a noodle soup, and I got to give it to HIV botched at one day on the winds. And so that was enough for me to switch it from what used to be.

A.J. Murray: It was good as well. Was it

Chris Randall: before it was bites to bits. So, you know, but even I would forget it that’d be like as a BITSA bites or bites to bids and then everybody else watched it and I was like, okay, if nobody else can remember that.

A.J. Murray: So your blog is so bites to this. We got to work on some branding there, but I do want to just give your blog a shout out because I, sorry, I know we’re wrapping up, but I wanted to hit this, that I have been playing with GitHub off and on.

Right. Do it a little bit at work. And I, I get, I know how to do what I have to do, but I didn’t really understand what’s happening. But under the hood in certain things. And when I saw, I forget where I saw it, but I’m using GitHub to take notes, blog posts on bits to bites, [01:05:00] kind of put it all together for me.

And like, I mean, I didn’t even know you could do that. First of all, I didn’t know. You could take notes, you know, you know, in and get hubs. So it’s just a great, I really like your blog. I really liked the content you’ve been putting out the get hub for me, for a guy who struggles with coding and concepts, like get hub and CSED blah, blah, blah.

Like, I really like how you distill this stuff down and you have a good way of describing it. And you helped me with get hub. And I’m a guy who has been using GitHub for a year at work. So, um, you know, good blog. I liked your content.

Chris Randall: Um,

A.J. Murray: Sorry, JJ. So where, where, where can we find you? It’s going to stay BITSA bites, bites to bits

Chris Randall: for the blog I’m working on.

There’s some more in the hopper for the, for all of that. That’s not like it probably won’t happen this year, but yeah, for now it’s there. I think it’s linked on my Twitter and on my LinkedIn. Um, yeah, but there’s more to come with that for sure.

A.J. Murray: All right. And we will drop all of those links and the show notes, [01:06:00] the Twitter, the blog, and the Lincoln.

And, uh, you can make sure you connect and follow Chris wherever he’s at. Chris. Thank you so much for joining us this week, man. Thank you, gentlemen, graduations. Uh, congratulations to you. You’ve definitely earned it. Uh, and we’re, we’re going to keep watching you. Can’t wait to see what you do.

Chris Randall: Thanks.

A.J. Murray: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And, uh, that’s a wrap. Thank you. And, uh, we’ll see you next week. On another episode of the art of network engineering.

Hey everyone. This is AIJ. If you like what you heard today, then make sure you subscribe to our podcast and your favorite podcatcher smash that bell icon to get notified of all of our future episodes.

Also follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at art net enj that’s art of N

E T E N G. You can also find us on the web. At art of network engineering.com, where we post all of our show notes, you can read blog articles from the Cohosts and guests, and also a lot more news and info from [01:07:00] the networking world.

Thanks for listening. .

Published by The Art of Network Engineering

A podcast for network engineers focused on tools, technologies, and talent people.

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