Linux Systems Engineer 

(Male, Age 45) from Corvallis, NY

This is a REAL-LIFE job profile written by a Male aged 45 who works as a Linux Systems Engineer in Corvallis, NY. We have removed all names and personal information in order to protect privacy. This professional kindly spent a bit of their time to complete one of our job profile surveys so that prospective job seekers like you could read their insights. Please excuse any punctuation or grammatical errors in this profile.

At a Glance

Current Job

Basic data on your current job

Job Title Linux Systems Engineer
Salary $85,000
Other Compensation None Set
Hours/Week 45
Company Size (not answered)
Location Corvallis, NY
Years Experience 1 year

Career Ratings

Opinions on your CAREER overall (i.e. not just your current job)

Years in Career 0
Education (not answered)
Income Rating 0 / 10
Interest Rating 0 / 10
Work-Life Rating 0 / 10
Fulfilment Rating 0 / 10

Current job Q&A

Describe the type of organization you work for.
I am contracted to a large, well-known provider of computer hardware, software and services. My specific internal organization provides hosting for customer web sites (ie, we provide and support servers running customer owned and operated web services), including some very well known retail, automotive, and government organizations.

Describe your job role and responsibilities.
I respond to server problems and implement changes. For example, I resolve disk space issues, restart web applications, troubleshoot software problems, expand disk volumes, add and delete users, and apply security patches.

Please list an additional benefits (beyond compensation) that you receive.
full medical, dental, and vision. As a contractor, I don’t get paid vacation.

Do you feel you are under/over or well/fairly compensated at your current position?
Undercompensated; our group’s contracts were recently renegotiated and we took a pay cut.

Does your job entail you working with others on a daily basis? Is this something you like/dislike about your job? Please explain.
I do not work with others on a daily basis; most of my job duties are performed solo.

Do you work collaboratively with supervisors/managers?

Do you work collaboratively with your co-workers?

Describe your work location (e.g., office, home, theatre, in the field) and what you like/dislike about working in it.
I currently work from my home office. It has pluses and minuses in that is is often convenient to not have to go into an office and deal with other people; however, it is also often very hard to differentiate between “work” and “home” when you wake up and go to sleep within twenty feet of where you work.

Please rate each of the following aspects of your current job on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest/best):
Income: 2
Benefits: 3
Hours: 5
Co-Workers: 4
Supervisors: 6
Job Title: 8
Level of Responsibility: 7
The Actual Work: 1

A day in the life of…

Please describe a typical workday for you in your current job:

5am to 6am
6am to 7am
7am to 8am Wake up, shower, get the kids off to school.
8am to 9am Get breakfast and tea. Sit down at the computer, log in and check email. Answer emails as needed. Log into the problem ticketing system and check to see if any problem tickets have been assigned to me. Log into the change ticketing system and check for new change tickets assigned to me. Prioritize my day by schedule of changes and any problems that have been assigned.
9am to 10am Start a change. 30 servers need SSH (secure shell) configuration files updated to comply with new security requirements. Log into each server one at a time, and check the version of the operating system and the secure shell software. Apply changes to config files as necessary, and make note of which servers cannot be updated due to older operating systems and unsupported configuration options.
10am to 11am Continue updating servers.
11am to 12pm Contact my team lead via IM to grant me access to some servers that I do not have admin rights on. Discuss various work-related issues while we’re at it. Then, continue updating servers.
12pm to 1pm Get lunch and eat while I work. Server updates continue. Break at 12:30 to drive my wife to school.
1pm to 2pm Check email and answer as needed. Break from updating servers to check for newly-assigned changes. if any are assigned, perform per work (including verifying logins, validating change requirements, and getting approvals from account managers, customer, and technical review team).
2pm to 3pm Break to pick wife up from school. Since the ssh change is a multi-day change, to avoid boredom I switch to another multi-day change that involves patching servers. Since rebooting requires customer acceptance and scheduling, I write emails to the server owner to determine a convenient time for reboots.
3pm to 4pm Patch a couple of servers, but wait to reboot until client responds with an approved time. Quit for the day at 4:00pm.
4pm to 5pm
5pm to 6pm
6pm to 7pm
7pm to 8pm
8pm to 9pm
9pm to 10pm
10pm to 11pm
11pm to 12am

Table of Contents

How you got your job

How did you get your current job?
I was head-hunted on

What was the application process?
I submitted a resume, followed by a formal job application

Did you have to interview for your current job? If yes, what did the interview process entail?
I did an hour long phone interview with the person who is the technical and team lead.

If you can remember, what questions were you asked during the interview?
I was asked about my experience, my history in the industry, and a LOT of technical questions. I was also given a few ‘what-if’ troubleshooting questions, and asked what my favorite utility program is.

Do you feel your employer properly prepared you for your job? Explain.
Mostly, my position is a fairly standard systems admin position. there some of details that needed to be learned on the job, but there was very little prep before getting thrown into the deep end.

Was there training for your current position? If yes, what did it entail?
I spent a few days following another sysadmin n my team, but otherwise there was no job-specific training for my position.

Do you feel your educational background prepared you for your job? Explain.
Formal education is not a big part of what I do. There are some certifications that can help, but mostly my job requires both an inherent knack for the tasks and a great deal of OJT and self-training.

If applicable, do you feel your internship experience helped you prepare for your job?

If someone wanted to go about getting a job similar to yours, what would you recommend for him or her to do?
1) Get significant experience in IT; 2) make lots of contacts with technical people and recruiters; 3) develop a reputation for skillful work and responsible job performance (ie, be there when you are supposed to be, do what you’re supposed to do, and be dependable)

What skills do you think a person should have if they want to pursue a position like yours?
Technical: in-depth knowledge of a number of operating systems, excellent troubleshooting skills and the ability to visualize solutions are required.

Organizational: often, the best sysadmins are fairly anal-retentive in specific areas. Being very detail-oriented is vitally important; often problem are solved by noticing a single character out of place (like a period where there should be a comma).

Do you feel that you need a certain level of education or training to be successful in your job?
Knowledge is better than education. Self-taught sysadmins are often more knowledgeable and dependable than people who have just gotten certiications in pursuit of a position.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start work in your position/ line of work?
Read computer manuals for fun. Work at the command-line even in graphical environments. Learn to script common tasks. Dig deep into the internals of your chosen OS. Play with the OS for fun, instead of the games or the apps or whatever.

Long-term career plans

Is your current employment part of your overall career plan? Why or why not?
I don’t have a career plan as such; my work is a way for me to pay for the rest of my life, not an end in itself. If Starbucks paid comparably, I’d probably work there.

What are your current career goals?
Ultimately my goal is to move from a series of contract positions to a fulltime/permanent position. I enjoy where I am in my career and the level of responsibility and technical difficulties.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your career?
In order to enjoy this career, one must love computers beyond all reason.

Prior work history

Please list your most recent jobs prior to this current job:

Title Length Salary Description
Prior Job 1 Linux Systems Engineer 1.5 years $65K Installation, setup, configuration, management, and troubleshooting of server hardware, operating systems and software applications. Recommendation of new hardware and software solutions for specific needs.
Prior Job 2 Web Operations Engineer 4 years $72.5K Installation, setup, configuration, management, and troubleshooting of server hardware, operating systems and software applications. Rotating oncall support of servers and applications.

Educational background

Please list your educational background:

High School GPA:3.5

GPA School Degree
College (Undergraduate)
or Technical/Vocational
Heald Institute of Technology AAS, Electronics engineering Technology
Graduate or Professional
(Masters or Doctorate)

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