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DevOps please don't kill me!

DevOps please don't kill me!

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Alen Demirovic's photo
Alen Demirovic
·Sep 25, 2021·

6 min read

Today I wanna talk about, what I have learned in the past two years doing DevOps. These days we often hear or read about topics like Burnout, Mental Health, or being overworked, and having said that, I want to share my thoughts on some psychological aspects of my job. Past year was very stressful event for many of us, and if you are someone new into IT or engineering, dealing with something that you have never seen before and doing that when the entire planet is being shut down, that can be very very stressful experience.

January 2020, 3 months after posting a request on some local Facebook group, for a system administration internship, I have received a message from now my ex box, where we kinda introduced a little bit, before he told me to come to the company for an interview. World was getting ready to be literally closed, and at that point, I was invited to an interview that I could just dream of. Prior to this event, I must mention that I was working as a 1st line support agent, customer support representative, and all those help-desky roles, which are limited to some point, you learn all you can for a certain period of time, and that's it, and I felt like this can't be all, there's must be something more. Right out of nowhere, in front of me, I got a job offer that in craziest dreams I would never think of. Going back to the interview with my boss, funny thing is that I don't have any expertise in the field which I would like to do, and he was totally cool with that, I haven't even brought my CV, I remember that he asked me something about the cloud, and I provided very limited answer, which was kinda funny, we talked casually about me, him, the company he showed me around, it was really nice office with glass walls and nice chairs, but also about what they actually need or to be more precise, what role they need for their organization. It was small company with 20-30 people, but kinda romantic, not so big, everyone was cool and friendly really nice working environment. Role for DevOps Engineer was open at that moment... I knew something about DevOps, but offering me to do it, with knowledge that I had was a stunt if you ask me! Someone who worked jobs where they expect results instantly, I was kinda shocked, I was like, I can't deliver right now, I don't know so much about all of this at all... Good thing is that I didn't say that out loud. Anyway, I showed interest in that, since I wanted to elevate my career, I wanted to be part of something bigger I wanted to gain greater knowledge in this field. Somewhat around a couple of days later, the company offered me a 1-year contract for a DevOps Engineer. Wow, I was just stunned! Later on, I have asked my boss totally honest, since he is really cool guy, and not only for the reason of giving me the job, lol, like what's the deal? He said I hired you for your attitude, not your knowledge.. I wasn't able to understand that since I thought, who would not have a positive attitude when opportunity like this comes in, but hey, at the end of the day, not all people are the same so...

Having told you all of this stuff, I wanted to introduce you to my behavior and where did I position myself in all of that. Being someone who doesn't have the slightest clue what the hell is going on, I decided that I would need to give 110% percent out of my abilities so I can prove myself that he didn't made mistake hiring me. March 2020, hell of a period for most of us, virus got more present on a full scale, and many countries decided to shut down everything. Beginning in something like this was very stressful, to be honest, I was dealing with so abstract stuff on a day-to-day basis, that my anxiety was high like Empire State building. Closed in an apartment, I had to deal with many challenges... How to approach for help, how to google stuff, how to learn new things, how to understand some greater concepts that are going around in software development, I had so many questions, but in this vacuum environment full of fear, I simply didn't know what to do, I had moments where I was on a call with my mentor, where I would simply freeze to the point where I was just some random presence in the meeting, how terrible was that... Besides my learning period, and small day-to-day tasks that I was assigned, after regular shift I was reading docs of multiple technologies that we used back then, going through bunch of articles online, like how to install this and that, how to use this and it was hard. I have to say, it wasn't pleasant at all. Dealing with all those new stuff in the middle of the pandemic, boy o boy... I'm not trying to make a hero of me in front of you, but as I write this now, I can say that is a big deal for me, and if someone who is reading this went through same shit... I applaud you. It takes a lot of courage and balls to put out there where there is was so much unknown to us...

Year went by, and I was in that anxiety/hyped mode 24/7... Don't get me wrong, this is not something that was influenced by the company, this was pure my decision to put myself out sitting for 10, 11 hours in front of PC so I can get my shit together and start contributing. All I can say is that I'm so grateful for all of that, I'm grateful for anxiety, I'm grateful for all those abstract stuff that I could not understand back then because I had to learn how to deal with all those things both mentally and physically. Lesson that I have learned is that stuff that you care about you should dose them... if you push too much you will burn out, and what is the point out of that. Take breaks regularly, hang out with people, go outside, exercise, drink plenty of water and try to create the environment where you would be missing doing valuable work, not being in position where you would pray to god, just to clock out. Of course, this applies to something that you really care about and love to do. Sorry if this started to sound like I'm throwing something out of my chest, but trust me, IT, engineering, coding, and all that stuff is not easy and sugary at all. Sure, there are nice moments, where you grow, learn and build fun stuff, but prior to that there are so many moments where you want to quit, where you are stuck for 3 days and resolution is nowhere to be found, where you like "What is the point of this?"... But all these hard times, build strong foundation of something bigger, you can deal with unknown easier, you can handle problems and have totally different attitude toward them, and not only in programming but in life in general. If you had very hard year behind you, don't lose hope, it will be worth just keep pushing and believe in yourself, as my boss believed in me. Doing the extra mile will reshape how you think, how you act, and how others see you out there. All of these benefits that are invisible and not instant will contribute to being a better person than you were yesterday, and I think that is something worth doing.

Please do share some of your thoughts if you had a similar experience or you just simply want to get it out, I would love to hear your story.