For this issue of ComputingEdge, we interviewed Scott Campbell, senior director of technology and an instructor at Miami University’s College of Engineering and Computing, about cloud-computing careers. Campbell was previously director of computing labs for the school’s Computer Science and Software Engineering Department. Campbell authored the article “Teaching Cloud Computing” for Computer’s September 2016 issue.
ComputingEdge: Which cloud-computing careers will grow the most in the next several years?
Campbell: I believe the entire field of devops will grow in importance as the differences between the roles of programming and administration continues to blur. To take full advantage of cloud computing’s flexibility, it will be necessary to include cloud management in the program and application design. Cloud computing lets us treat hardware as programmable objects, which necessitates a new way of thinking about solutions as we figure out how to “program” hardware into our solutions.
ComputingEdge: What would you tell college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
Campbell: Successful students have worked on different types of projects and solutions. Creating a portfolio of different projects is important, as is working with professors on tools and projects. Working with on-campus clubs to help set up systems is also valuable. Internships continue to be helpful in both building a resume and learning what types of work you like and dislike.
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for cloud-computing jobs?
Campbell: Cloud computing is replacing all the roles in traditional data centers with console-management tools. Applicants should have a strong systems, security, and networking background as well as scripting experience, which is key to making cloud computing scalable.
ComputingEdge: How can new hires make the strongest impression in a new position?
Campbell: A manager who I respect said that he hired for attitude first and skills second. Being positive and willing to tackle problems is a key attribute that will make a good impression. Later, when given a problem by your boss, try to find one or two solutions and then ask a colleague if they make sense. Communications is also important. Reread all of your early emails and memos after letting them sit for at least 30 minutes. Then make sure they are clear, complete, and easy to follow
ComputingEdge: Name one critical mistake that young graduates should avoid when starting their careers?
Campbell: Ignoring the workplace culture is a critical mistake. Every group has both a culture and set of standard practices. Make sure to take time to learn the culture and then adapt to it rather than assuming it will adapt to you. Once you understand the culture and the reasons for the standard practices, you’ll be in a position to start making improvements.
ComputingEdge: Do you have any advice that could benefit those just starting out in their careers?
Campbell: My favorite saying as a teacher—and parent—is “figure it out.” As a boss, I give assignments to workers assuming they will spend time working on a solution. Employees must understand that they will receive assignments that aren’t well defined and that they will have to solve them iteratively. So when given a task, spend time figuring it out. After a bit of research and thought, circle back with the person who gave you the task to see if you are on the right track and if you heard them correctly. Understand that your job is to figure out how best to add value to a project.
About Lori Cameron
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Campbell for this article. Contact her at email@example.com if you would like to contribute to a future ComputingEdge article on computing careers. Contact Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.