E74 - Jordan Villarreal at NS1

Harry Green
Jordan Villarreal

By Harry Green & Jordan Villarreal

Our Head of Enterprise USA, Harry Green, had the pleasure of being joined by Jordan Villarreal, the Technical Advocate at NS1 on our 74th episode of The Route to Networking podcast. Jordan highlights the importance of getting hands-on experience to help you learn and progress in your career. In such a demanding industry, he discusses the importance of being able to spot burnout, as well as advice on how to handle it if you find yourself or a family member/friend in that situation.

Jordan started his Networking career pretty much straight out of high school. He didn’t go down the university route and instead went down the certifications route. Back then, he wasn’t the best student in finding a way of learning that worked for him and then one day, an opportunity presented itself. His mum worked for the local universities and there was a flyer up on the board saying there was a Cisco Bootcamp to learn networking. He worked at small local shops during that time, and none of the large companies would take someone without a university degree. So, he worked for a computer repair shop as their Network Engineer.

He got to a point where he could’ve gone down the education route, which he knew didn’t work for him or tried this brand-new thing that was a gamble, but something he knew he enjoyed, nonetheless. He went ahead with the Cisco Bootcamp and essentially that’s where his certification journey began.

His thoughts have changed slightly since those times, those being that both the university and certifications route are both valid but what really matters is you as an individual, you as a person, your personality type and what’s going to work for you.

When he was trying to break out of the smaller companies, he was finding the more conversations he was having with more companies, the clearer they were holding the lack of formal education against him. In 2006, he went back to school, and it took him almost 9 years to do a 4-year degree because he had to do it part-time. Halfway through the course, he become well-established in his career and also at that time, employers became less focused on education.

One thing he has been taught that neither university nor certifications taught him was how a business works. University won’t teach you and neither will certifications. You can get a picture of both as far as how they work, and how projects are delivered but once you step into a business in the real world, there’s a very stark difference. The tech is the same, but businesses don’t operate the way you’re led to believe.

Spotting burnout…

With an industry as demanding and fast-growing as the Networking world, it’s so easy to burn out. Jordan has both been through it and has seen it happen in front of him. Jordan looks for people who used to engage but now disengage frequently and aren’t as available with minimal communication. Are you seeing people dip out? Make sure you’re checking in on them and talking about things that aren’t work-related. The thing that got Jordan into a rut was a corporate culture or a negative/lack of established culture. The better companies he has worked for headed these things off before he even started and takes pride in a healthy work-life balance. “Find the company that has the right corporate culture that fits your personality.”

Jordan shares his advice with anyone who wants to get into the industry and what they should be looking out for in the future. Listen to the full episode now!