E72 - A.J Murray at Presidio

George Barnes
A.J Murray

By George Barnes & A.J Murray

Our Co-Founder & Director, George Barnes had the pleasure of being joined by A.J. Murray. A.J. Murray is a Senior Engineer at Presidio. Additionally, he writes articles, is a Cisco champion and VMware vExpert, a teacher AND is also the creator and co-host of The Art of Network Engineering podcast.

Taking it back to his younger days, he started out in a community college, just trying to figure out what he really wanted to do with his life. He decided to do a C++ Programming course but didn’t really know if he was cut out for coding and programming. Of course, now looking back, he wishes he had stuck with it knowing what he does now. He decided to take a Networking class and just fell in love with it. He was an IT Manager for a while, but he decided he enjoyed the technical side more. He took his certifications and got back to the hands-on side.

A.J. took his degree in Networking and Information Security. His bachelor’s degree absolutely prepared him for his career and gave him a solid foundation going into the field. He was able to take classes full-time while doing a full-time job as well. He would go to class, learn something, and then go to work and apply it. There was no better kick for him than being able to do that. One thing he would change if he could go back though is he wouldn’t do his master’s degree so early on. At that time, he saw himself on the management pathway and he thought the master’s degree would make him stand out. it turned out it didn’t quite have the effect he thought it would.

One of the things he has learned in his career is that you have to stay curious. For anyone looking to enter the space, be open to learning, and be open to other people’s opinions because you all come from different experiences and backgrounds and from that, you will ultimately learn quicker. If you don’t have a desire to continuously learn, you won’t do well in IT let alone Networking.

A.J. is very well-known in the industry and that doesn’t come from shying away. He is part of a few discord communities but the one he created is called “It’s All About the Journey”. He was posting on Twitter while taking the old-style CCNP. He kept failing and someone said to him “Pass or fail, it’s all about the journey”. He thought, they were absolutely right, it’s all about the people you meet and the things you learn along the way. he started the Discord channel with a few others and it’s essentially a place where people can go, not just the Networking community, but IT in general, to learn, connect and support.

Some of the projects he’s working on outside of his position at Presidio is his blog. It’s called noblinkyblinky.com and he was inspired to start it when he was troubleshooting an issue and he thought to himself, that some of the best solutions came from someone’s personal blog. He knew he had a bunch of unique experiences he wanted to share on a public platform so that’s where his blog was born. He is also a co-host of The Art of Network Engineering, which has blown up way more than they originally thought it would.

As the industry evolves at a fast rate, A.J. sees DevOps becoming a huge part of the growth in the next few years. Being able to script and code and do Automation in his job has been a huge game changer. Having that training will be good for you in your career and eventually will become a standard for you to know it.

A.J. touches on how important it is to focus on your mental health, especially in such a high-demand industry. He discusses his own personal experience with mental health and how he overcame it. Make sure you tune in to the full episode now to hear all about it.