E69 - Ethan Jackson at Zen Internet

George Barnes
Ethan Jackson

By George Barnes & Ethan Jackson

Our Co-Founder George Barnes was joined by Ethan Jackson, a Core Network Engineer at Zen Internet, on today’s episode. Ethan has been in the Networking industry for 7 years now where he started as an Apprentice Network Engineer. During this episode, Ethan talks to us about his route in the industry and his experience completing his apprenticeship program.

A common dominator with many of our guests when we ask them how they got into Networking is they, well, sort of just fell into it and this was no different for Ethan. Throughout school, he wasn’t very academic, coming out of school with 1 out of a potential 15 GCSEs. He got talked into doing IT, after realising his career as a chef was cut short due to the closest college being an hour and a half away on a bus. He soon completed his level 1 in IT at college and then in his second year he has the option to go into either Software Development or Networking. He did 1 week of Software Development before realising he couldn’t get his head around it, so he swapped the course to Networking and the rest was history. After completing his level 2, he was given the choice to do an apprenticeship alongside college, which ended up doing 4 days in Cisco Net Academy while going to college 1 day a week.

His transition into the workplace from college was none other than what he describes as absolutely manic. It was a completely different environment from what he was used to but at the same time was in complete awe when he was watching the seniors do their thing.

For those who may be considering an apprenticeship, Ethan suggests you 110% do it. From his experience, the academic side was a struggle and found he didn’t learn things by reading from books, so if you’re in a similar situation, get on board the apprenticeship train to get hands-on! It gives you the foot in the door to configure devices before going straight into a full-time job.

Daily Challenges at Zen Internet…

Since joining Zen Internet, he’s found that he’s gone from a Cisco background to a Juniper-heavy background and seeing how they work differently has been one of the challenges he’s faced.

At Zen Internet, the importance of building relationships and having that social interaction is a core focus of theirs. Ethan sees his team leaders as not just leaders but more like mates. No matter what the problem is they are always there to help. You get more out of people when you hear them out and communicate.

For his personal development and career progression, he is planning on taking the CCNP Enterprise Design certification to understand how things intertwine. Another thing that has been a huge buzzword in the industry and a massive interest to Ethan is Automation. He’s been working on Ansible and DevOps to gain more understanding and knowledge about how it works.

What he would suggest to any young aspiring Network Engineer is to Network in Networking. There are so many streams out there now such as LinkedIn where you connect with people within the industry and send them a message. Twitter is another one where there are loads of certified professionals all over the globe that are there to help. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. He has had people connect with him asking where to go and he provides them with free training platforms and links to look at to get them started.

Ethan shares what’s next for him in his journey both short-term and long-term. Make sure you give the full episode a listen now!