A Day in a Life of a Network Engineer

A Day in a Life of a Network Engineer
21 April 2021    Tammy Sofranic    0 comments
With so many lucrative and creative careers in the IT industry, it can be challenging to find a path that is the right one for you. So it's never too early to start exploring and learning about different pathways in IT, what they have to offer and which one you might like best. 

Alek started his career as a network engineer during his uni days. He has been in the industry for almost five years and has worked in top global IT companies in Europe and Australia. Find out more about his journey and some nifty practical tips along the way!  


Alek: Network Engineer

Can you describe a typical day on the job?

A typical day usually consists of monitoring and maintaining our current network, taking on new cases from our clients and resolving any issues which arise. Even though the structure of the day is similar, every case is different and needs specific troubleshooting, so it's always dynamic. I spend a lot of time communicating with clients because it helps me better understand their problems.

In addition to the day-to-day tasks, I also invest a lot of time in learning new technologies. There is always ongoing development in the network space, so continuous learning is critical if you want to keep up. 

Why did you choose network engineering as your career? What or who inspired you to do so?

It first started with choosing a degree at uni. After doing a lot of research, I decided to pursue an IT degree at uni because I knew that there will be a great demand for it in the future, and job security and the outlook was important to me. 

While taking my uni courses, I realised that network was most intriguing, so I gave it a try and decided to stick to it. As a student, I volunteered at a routing centre to get more practical experience and see what's it all like. 

What would you say are three key personality aspects or skills that make for a network engineer?

This may sound general, but I think the three key personality traits or skills are:

  • Curiosity - this is important because to get to the root of a network issue, you need to be curious, explore, ask a lot of questions and think outside of the box. It is just how the process works.
  • Communication skills - a lot of the work on improving or fixing networks is about communicating the issues, as well as listening out for details. So speaking clearly and listening actively are essential in this business. 
  • Analytical thinking - taking a methodical step-by-step approach to thinking and breaking down complex problems into single and manageable components is something we do here every day, so it's also very important. 

What have you learned about yourself through the work that you do?

I learned that having a sharp focus can take you far. Many people are distracted with so much going on in our world, but having sharp focus and attention to detail helped me many times in this work. 

I also learned that I am very patient with clients and people in general. 

Most importantly, I learned how to stay agile in stressful situations. When I started working, I would get very stressed with demanding requests from clients, deadlines or dealing with unknowns. Over time, I learned how to deal with stress better which also helped in my personal life. 

What’s been your best moment while doing your work?

Our clients are sometimes companies, but also different institutions such as hospitals. Sometimes, network issues impact many people. So whenever  I resolve an issue in their network, I directly help many people.

Even though such situations carry a lot of pressure, I feel great relief and satisfaction knowing that I helped many people and met the client's needs. 

And a really hard moment?

Whenever a network is down, and I know that it's putting things on hold for the clients. Those are the most challenging moments. It is also when pressure is higher because the network is essential for most businesses these days, so you have to work as fast as you can.

How do you keep going when things get challenging?

I think I developed more resilience over the years. This means accepting that mistakes and challenges come and go, and it's up to you to take and learn as much as possible from them. No one is immune to challenges, we have to find ways to work with them. For me, it is about accepting this, moving on and focusing on the next steps and the bigger picture. 

Are there any surprising or odd things that people wouldn’t expect if they picked this career?

Well, yes, there has been a recent shift in the networking world. For example, engineers are now learning basic programming skills to automate repetitive tasks. When I was a student just five years ago, a network engineer was not expected to code; however, it has now become essential. 

Also, a lot of people think that working in IT is isolating and you never talk to people. The truth is the opposite, in this profession, you're working with people a lot and speaking to your team and the clients. 

Can you share a funny or weird story about something you experienced while working on a project?

There are always goofy day-to-day situations. However, a particularly funny one was when we were checking our alarm system. Everyone panicked that the whole network went down, but after a 
few hours we found out the alarm system was down and not the network. 

What advice would you give to young people considering pursuing a career in this industry?

Regardless of your degree and previous experience, certification is critical in this space. Most of the certificates in demand can be found online, such as Cisco, AWS or Microsoft. 

Also, it's important to keep learning constantly, you're never done learning because there are always new technologies or processes. So you need to be a bit of a nerd for this.

Not vibing with network engineering? All good, explore other careers below:

Not sure what your natural skills are, or wondering which career might suit you best? Try the Skillsroad Career Quiz to discover your natural skill set, and then test it out with careers you have in mind using our unique Job Fit Test below!

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