Curious about working in Information Technology? In this employee interview, I sit down with Adam Hoang for a candid interview about what it’s like to work as a Senior Technical Specialist at AlphaKOR. Adam has worked at AlphaKOR for almost two years and is an integral member of the AlphaKORian family. In this employee feature, we get the inside scoop about what it’s like to work as a Senior Technical Specialist for a Managed Service Provider (MSP), key qualities that attribute to success in the field, and more.
Meet Adam Hoang.
What drew you to this position?
It really is a full-circle story. I was born and raised in Leamington. After college, I took the leap of faith and moved to the big city (Toronto) where tech jobs were abundant. After spending 8+ years in a large corporate setting, my partner and I had decided to move back to Windsor. Our decision came from a few factors:
- Cost of housing
- Cost of living
- Where we wanted to raise a family
Long story short, AlphaKOR’s name came up as an established organization in technology and its regular contributions to the community were exactly the direction I wanted to steer my career towards.
What educational background did you need to be a Senior Technical Specialist?
I graduated from St. Clair College in the 3-year Computer Systems Technology – Networking program. Aside from a degree in technology, my on-the-job knowledge in VMWare, Windows Server administration, and enterprise networking experience were key in becoming part of the AlphaKOR family.
How long have you worked for AlphaKOR?
BambooHR is telling me 1 year, 6 months and 21 days. Time flies!
What does the average day look like for you as a Senior Technical Specialist?
This is a bit ambiguous as I do not think an ‘average’ day at an MSP exists! I normally have a few projects that I am continuously working on. At any moment, escalations for high-priority issues can arise and I could be pivoted over to either troubleshoot or assist in resolving.
Did you work in IT before working at AlphaKOR?
Yes, as mentioned earlier, after graduation from college, I worked in Toronto for a large corporate firm as part of their local IT team.
What is it like working for a Managed Service Provider?
There is never a dull moment that is for sure! There was a bit of a learning curve for me transitioning from a traditional on-site local IT team to an environment where your client of focus could (and does) change several times a day. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, but the AlphaKOR team does a great job helping each other out. Help and support on any issue are not far behind if you need it.
How do you manage your time working for multiple clients?
Scheduling! While my position can be very fluid at times, it really helps to have some resemblance of a schedule planned out for my week. While it often changes and looks completely different at the end of the week, laying down a foundation is paramount, so you do not get sidetracked. I think of it as a big game of Tetris to fit everything just right!
Aside from that, regular meetings are held with our team to review our schedules for the week as well as daily PODs (plan of the day) meetings to assess any issues or concerns.
What skillset is critical to your job?
The technical ability skillset is a given, I think what is most critical is communication and customer service. Communicating effectively with clients and your team is important to ensure that the needs of the client are met and that you and your team are all on the same page in achieving your goals. Building a rapport with those you interact with makes the process more rewarding when you complete it.
What key qualities do you think a good Senior Technical Specialist possesses?
Along with communication as mentioned above, problem-solving, resourcefulness, analytical ability and thinking outside the box. Often in IT, there is no one “right” way to do things. A good Senior Technical Specialist should always be looking at making processes/tasks more efficient. Willingness to learn and continuous learning are also very important. As technology continues to grow and evolve at an exponential rate, it is important to soak up as much as possible to be on top of all the latest trends.
What is the most exciting part about being a Senior Technical Specialist?
Every day is different and met with challenges. While daunting, it is very rewarding to complete a complex, in-depth project and a happy satisfied customer. It is very exciting to be able to work with new technologies and implement them into production environments.
What is the least exciting part of your job?
Being unable to deliver to a client. Sometimes the outcome is out of your hands and beyond your control. I tend to be a bit stubborn and do not like taking no for an answer for a task that has been given to me that cannot be completed. In my experience, I will continue to work on the issue until I find an innovative way of fixing it or giving the best alternative path forward to the client.
How do you hope to grow in your field of work?
Continuous learning is very important in technology. For myself, since being a part of AlphaKOR, I have obtained a Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) certification and am pursuing more designations. More specifically, I want to get more into Cybersecurity as it has become more and more prominent in today’s world. Being on the defensive side of cyber attacks a few times, I have always had the fascination of what it would be like to be on the offensive “red” team.
I am also a 3rd-year part-time student at Ryerson University studying Business Technology Management. Attending Post-Secondary while working in a full-time career has given me perspective on aspects that I may have overlooked in a professional setting. I continuously take what I learn in the classroom and apply processes in my work. I hope to transfer to UWindsor when the pandemic is behind us and in-class learning can continue safely.
What have you learned at AlphaKOR that has helped you grow personally?
For me, it was the itch for knowledge. Since starting with AlphaKOR, I thought I had a lot of IT knowledge and experience. When I started working on projects and seeing the range of infrastructure, software, products I was working with, I was quickly humbled. From this realization, I became more of a ‘tinkerer’. I embraced not knowing everything and began learning everything I could as much as I could. Often, I would ask why something works this way and it quickly translated over into my personal time as I wanted to know the answers. This quickly resulted in an extensive home lab environment where I can test (or break) things in a controlled environment.
For someone who would like to obtain a position as a Senior Technical Specialist, what advice would you give to them?
Be prepared for a challenge, be patient, be confident but also be humble. You’re going to make mistakes, but they will make you a better technologist because of it!