How did you get into IT?
I've been into computers since I was a kid. I'm 28 so I'm a younger guy on the scene, but I remember playing Wheel of Fortune on 5 1/4" floppy disks on some ancient piece of hardware. Then I got my dads old Pentium with Windows 3.1 and I spent loads and loads of time getting myself into trouble in the old AOL days. I'll leave those days for another time.
When I got to high school, I was still very much into technology and my high school was one of the first ones in the nation to actually offer CCNA prep courses as part of the curriculum. It was a 2 year course (which is way too much time to spend studying for a CCNA) and by the 2nd year, there were only 8 people left in the class. We all went out, took the CCNA and failed. Go figure.
During college I was the resident geek and was known for having the best electronics and sound system in the fraternity house, of course all backed by my custom built rig. I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with a MIS degree and my first job out of college was doing a bunch of VBA programming within Excel. I did that for about 3 months and knew that coding just wasn't for me. I caught wind of a position as a Systems Admin at a Marketing company in Louisville and I went in for the interview and was offered the job on my ride back to Lexington.
I immediately put in my 2 weeks notice and started my life being in more of a help desk role along with minor server maintenance. After 2 years, I knew I wanted something better so I buckled down, started studying for my CCNA, and got it.
After I received my CCNA, I applied for a position as a Network administrator at a law firm and began my wonderful journey into switch and router configurations. While I was on-boarding, they told me that I am replacing their VMware engineer as well so they sent me to the VMware FastTrack course for version VI3. When I was there, I immediately fell in love with the technology and completed shifted courses on where I wanted to focus my energy.
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?
As I said before, I became a Network Engineer where 50% of my time was focused on VMware. Instead of reading about BPDU's I was learning about NIC design, vMotion, and more. I became completely enthralled with the technology. About that time (2008), twitter started blowing up and I began using it to find experts in fields of Networking, Network Security, and VMware. I began kendrickcoleman.com as a website to just host my resume for potential employers.
Before I knew it, I was using my blog as a documentation strategy for things that you couldn't find with Google. That’s sort of how I use my blog today as well, if I run into a problem or wants to know a certain process and nothing on Google is available, then I write a blog about it. I steer away from writing stuff like "evolution of cloud" or just my thoughts on things because people read my blog for helpful hints, tips, hacks, problem solving, and walkthroughs. Around May of 2009, the law firm started nose diving and cuts were happening.
I began pushing out resumes within hours of me losing my job and people on twitter were re-tweeting to help spread the message to find potential employers. After a couple of hours and a few DMs later, I was interviewing over the phone with IT Managers in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Palm Beach FL who were interested in me. I also received a call the next day from a local company who wanted me to come in for an interview and again I was hired just a few days later. I was lucky to only be out of a job for 4 days.
I came to this company as a Network Engineer and to completely build their VMware project from the ground up. Within 10 months I had 90% of the environment virtualized. They knew I was crazy about virtualization so they agreed to send me to VMworld 2010. I also got hooked up with David Davis at the time and he asked me to co-present. It was an honor and complete awesomeness to be in front of hundreds of people. The session was ranked 3rd at VMworld 2010 and we got invited to present in Copenhagen as well.
This is when I received my VMware vExpert 2010 award. I was very happy to receive this and join an elite group of individuals. About a month passed and my current rockstar boss asked me if I wanted to come interview for this little startup known as Acadia. I flew to Boston and gave a nerve wrecking 30 minute presentation and before I left to fly home, the job as a vArchitect was offered to me and I was ready for the next phase in my journey. I continue to keep up with the blogging and speaking at major events to help evangelize VMware and that's how I get to keep my VMware vExpert status. I think my journey shows you how crazy social media can take you places.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
A fellow vExpert and co-worker once told me, "if you are the smartest person at your company, you need to find a new job". Keep challenging yourself and stretch your limits. I've always said that a great vSphere admin is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, which holds very true. There are so many moving parts in a vSphere admins life that you can't know everything about a particular subject such as networking or storage.
Knowing the right kind and correct amount will get you where you need to go. Join in the action because social media is the new "it's not what you know, it's who you know". Making yourself credible in the twitterverse and blogosphere can take you much further than you could have imagined 5 years ago. I can attest to that and so can many others. Your name becomes almost like a brand and it becomes recognized.