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Intern to New Graduate – The Road To Becoming A Technical Support Engineer at VMware

The transition from university to working full-time can be a challenging time. We sat down with recent new graduate Adam Ahern to hear how this transition went for him and learn more about his role as a Technical Support Engineer at VMware. Read on and get to know Adam. 

University Talent Team: Did you always know you wanted to have a career in technology?  

Adam Ahern: Well, before I started college, I wasn’t sure what career I wanted. Many jobs appealed to me when I was in secondary school, so my focus was on which course to do in college. I chose to study Business Information Systems (BIS) at University College Cork (UCC), and it was during college my passion for technology started to flourish. I chose BIS because I knew it would give me a broad platform to move on from, but I didn’t envision it ending with a job in VMware. 

VMware University Talent Team: Share more about your internship with Global Support Services at VMware?

Adam Ahern: I was lucky enough for my internship to have taken place before the whole Covid-19 pandemic, and it was a delightful six months. The first two or three months were focused on ramping up to hit the ground running. The last three months were customer-facing, interacting with customers to solve any issues they may have been having, both online and via email.

The first couple of months consisted of getting an introduction to the company. There were six of us starting as interns, and none of us knew a great deal about the company. We had the opportunity to meet with some of the top minds in VMware Ireland and taste what was to come. The new-hire track was the next step; this is a series of courses to educate someone to become competent in using VMware software. This consisted of the ICM (Install, Configure, Manage) course, Build My Labs 6.5, and a two-week troubleshooting course.  

Upon completing the new-hire track, we began studying for the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) exam, an industry-recognized certification proving the taker has a broad knowledge of the theory behind managing a vSphere environment. 

Once the new-hire track and VCP study was done, we were put into our teams to start taking cases. I was in the Systems Operations team, which supports the core VMware products; ESXi and vCenter. In the beginning, the instances were cherry-picked to allow us to get up to speed, but after a couple of weeks, we were in the unsheltered firing line of the case assignment system. Time-management is a fundamental attribute in an environment like this and the ability to calm a customer in a time of high stress.

Overall, the internship was a fantastic experience, and I am excited to get the ball rolling again on the case-taking front. I always felt I was surrounded by supportive people during my internship, no matter what situation arose.

University Talent Team: What did you learn about yourself through the internship you took with you into the final year? 

Adam Ahern: Interestingly enough, my internship turned out to be a lot more introspective than I had anticipated. The company’s ethos had quite an effect on me and helped me learn quite a few positive things to take with me through life. 

During my internship, I also took and passed the VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) exam, a practical exam testing your knowledge of deploying and optimizing a vSphere environment. I was aiming for this certification since I found out it existed, although it was quite a high aim, and I wasn’t sure if I would reach it. In going from zero to VCAP in six months, I proved to myself that I could achieve mammoth tasks once I committed to them and worked hard. This mindset was incredibly helpful in going back into college with a final year project to do.

One thing that continuously struck me when working with VMware software was the sheer breadth of the technology encapsulated within the one company. From ESXi to vRealisevSAN to VeloCloud, the amount of cutting-edge tech is astounding. This manifested a childlike curiosity within me that I knew was there, but I was never fully conscious of it. I have been trying to develop and nurture this curiosity since, and it has helped me get through Final Year.

University Talent Team: Okay, you finished the final year and started a new job remotely because of Covid-19. How was your onboarding experience?

Adam Ahern: My onboarding experience was much better than I had expected, mainly because I was expecting the job to be canceled, so it was a relief that I was still starting. Overall, it went smoothly.

All of the equipment and technology I needed to get to work was delivered on time right to my front door! On my first day in the role, even though I was working remotely, I was able to turn on my laptop, log in, and have access to everything necessary to do my job correctly. We were even sent some swag, which was cool!

University Talent Team: What professional and personal opportunities are afforded to you at VMware?

Adam Ahern: I must say VMware is a fantastic company to work for in personal development. Many programs run internally that are focused on education, upskilling, and personal matters. Here are some which I have or will make use of! 

Take 1 is an initiative within VMware’s career development program, which gives employees the ability to go (back) to college and obtain a qualification that has some relevance to your current role. I came across many people who went back to college to do an MBA, which I might consider in the future. 

Service Learning is VMware’s way of giving back to the community. There are service-learning events where people can volunteer for local services like the Guide Dogs, Tidy Towns, and Penny Dinners. Each employee has 40 hours per year they can dedicate to service-learning. The aforementioned opportunities don’t include the sporadic Service Learning events that happen regularly throughout the year. I had an excellent Service Learning day out cleaning cheetah cages in Fota Wildlife Park!

Hive is an internal VMware tool for learning and development. There are thousands of Hive courses where you can learn anything from soft skills to the software-defined data center. Each course has a certificate of completion also. During the new-hire track, we also did a one-week course to learn about Assertive Communication. Honestly, this week stood out to me the most out of the six months; it taught me how to convey something while simultaneously considering the other party effectively. Becoming aware of this skill was extremely helpful for me throughout the internship and beyond.

VMware University Talent Team: What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for the TSE role?

Adam Ahern: The advice I would give is to stop thinking about it and apply. The TSE role is a fantastic opportunity, given that 98% of Fortune 500 companies use VMware software. Even though the job is quite technical, you are not expected to know it all walking in the door. You are given world-class training, which will get you up to speed. If you are curious and willing to commit time and effort to something, VMware is the place for you. The education and opportunities that will come your way in this role would be hard to find anywhere else. 

Do you like the sound of a New Graduate TSE role?  You are in luck the VMware University Talent team is hosting a virtual event on September 24th. Register your place today to learn more about VMware Ireland and hear from recent graduates (including Jodie!) who are now working as Technical Support Engineers at VMware. 

You can also apply directly to New Graduate TSE roles here.

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