Kevin Walsh

Senior UNIX System Administrator
Critical Path
Ireland
IT and telecoms
BSc Experimental Physics
Higher Diploma in Applied Physics
2001

The HDip in Applied Physics course was a major boost to my career projection. It gave me the IT skills that were required in the sector, specifically C programming. After completion of my BSc and HDip in Applied Physics I applied for a “Software Engineer” role in a company called Logica which was an SMS software provider for ISPs. They had a “Graduate Employment” program which aided in seeking employment here. I was given the role and it was a steep learning curve.

I spent 2.5 years here learning how to use the software packages and tools for my role. The role I was given was to test (assure quality) of specific areas in the GSM components. I gained a lot of experience from my mentors with whom helped immensely. Constantly nagging them and taking notes was my first 2 years in the industry. Logica eventually closed and I started sending my CV about to similar companies looking for “Software Quality Assurance” roles. I did a number of interviews and finally I got the call from my current employers Critical Path regarding a QA role.

Critical Path offered me the role on a contractual basis. After one month in the contractual role I was offered a permanent role which I accepted. Here I was working on cutting edge email/ calendar/syncml/ address book software for large ISPs. I enjoyed my role as QA engineer and was offered and accepted the “Senior QA Engineer” role. Eventually it was noticed that my skills more suited configuration and administration of the actual servers both hardware and software. I was offered a new role, “Services QA Engineer”, which involved providing and provsioning the test environments for the QA and Development departments. This role involved seeking hardware, installing software (3rd party and in-house), configuring the software and rolling out the completed environments to the test departments. There was also administration of the environments. About five years into my employment at CP a role of “UNIX System Admin” became available and I applied and was accepted.

This has seen my career path move to a more lower level operating system administrator, namely all flavours of UNIX (linux/ HP-UX/ Solaris). In this role I manage many critical production systems and development systems. I am now the “Senior UNIX System Admin” at CP and I do a lot of work off site in the data centre which houses most of our server hardware. I thoroughly enjoy this role and there is something new every day. Of course not all days are good, you take the good with the bad!

 

  • Critical systems management
  • Unix/ Linux system administration
  • QA/ Dev systems management
  • Virtualisation engineer Specialties
  • Virtualisation (Redhat Xen/ VMWare/ SmartOS/ Virtual Box)
  • Critical Systems Management
  • Redhat Manager
  • Email Messaging administrator

Every day there is something new to challenge you. There is an endless number of ways you can improve how you do your job or how you can make your processes easier/ better. The people I work with are very like-minded individuals and its nice to be able to work with people like that on a daily basis.

I sent my CV around to a few different places in the IT sector. At the time I was a Quality Assurance Engineer for Software products. I did the interview for this particular job and after about two weeks I was offered a contractual role. After about one month in the contract role I was offered a permanent role which I accepted.

My advice would be to get someone to check and double-check your CV and cover letter before you apply for a job. It really is very important that spelling and formatting are correct on CVs and cover letters. Write a different cover letter per application, depending on the role, even if it means tweaking the one you have. Be persistent and confident in your job interviews. Do not try to pull the wool over employers eyes, if you don’t know something then you are better off saying it. Its more appreciated that you accept that you don’t know everything! Don’t get down if you keep getting rejections or get no response at all. Keep the chin up and your time will come.

What are the key skills/knowledge you use in your current role?

  • UNIX System Administration
  • Messaging protocols SMTP/ IMAP/ POP
  • Web Server management
  • Bash/ Shell scripting 
  • SQL database administration​

(submitted August 2012)