End of 2020, Gavin Chen was ready for a change.
The Philadelphia native, who had left the area to attend school in UC Santa Cruz and returned in 2019, was working on Jefferson Hospitals‘ The IoT team, but wanted to expand its skills in a new direction. However, he felt a little out of touch with the local tech scene, so he turned to Technical.ly’s newsletters and reports to help keep it informed. This led him to discover Linodewhere he now works as a cloud software engineer.
Old Town-based recently acquired cloud hosting provider Linode used the services of Technical.ly Talent Pro platform since 2017 to share information about its corporate culture and attract qualified talent. Chen researched the company via Linode’s Culture page and posted on Technical.ly, and started working there in January 2021.
Recently, we spoke with him to find out more about why he thinks Linode is the right fit for him and his experience so far.
What is your current role and what are your daily tasks and responsibilities?
I’m on the storage team, which is kind of like a backend team for clusters, so the way I usually like to describe it is that we do all things persistent storage. As part of any cloud infrastructure, we need something that persists data, i.e. object storage, when you’re just uploading a whole bunch of files, or block storage, which is basically adding hard drives to the computer and then managing things like databases or anything that has persistent storage on the cloud platform. Our team basically handles most of that stuff.
Most of our responsibilities actually vary quite a bit. Technically, I’m part of the development team. We have a dev team and an operations team, but on a day-to-day basis we do a bit of a mix between development and testing, as well as some maintenance. We have a fairly wide range of responsibilities compared to some of the other companies I’ve worked at.
What was your background before joining Linode?
I originally worked for a department at Jefferson Hospitals – they had this new digital innovations lab. And then I started looking for jobs and found Linode. My original background is actually with embedded systems, so I’m a bit more on the low end, like microprocessors and lower hardware stuff. When I was looking for new jobs, I had seen where the cloud was going, and I thought I wanted to try to make the switch. So I ended up applying to Linode and seeing what they had to offer. I really like the cloud so far.
What attracted you to working at Linode?
It’s one of the biggest software companies in Philadelphia, and it’s in a really competitive space, the cloud. They seemed to grow extremely fast. Just looking at some of Technical.ly’s articles and other articles and then their website and career page, they have a stark difference between them and the other companies I was looking at. Something about Linode’s culture and their attitude interested me. It was probably the fact that they act like they’re a relatively new company. There are a lot of new things they try, and they’re not afraid to do new things or try different trends in the industry.
What was your onboarding and training experience?
It’s a two week process, if I remember correctly, and the first start is that you work with our learning and development team, and they get you up to speed with all the hardware and all the tools and everything .
And then interspersed with all that, it’s just a lot of trying to meet people and get to know the business. We have something called your “Reference Linodian”, which is someone who is not necessarily part of your team or with whom you work directly, but who has been there for a while and who you can talk to to chat if you have any questions or something you wonder about how we do things with culture at Linode.
Other than that, we have support training where every developer has to spend two days sitting down with support. They are essentially on the front line, seeing the day-to-day business of communicating with customers. Support is a pretty big part of our business, and it’s one of the things that I think sets us apart from some of the other vendors. I remember being struck by how much thought and effort they put into supporting them compared to other companies. It definitely seemed like a goal rather than an afterthought. Then, once those two weeks are over, you’re kind of onboarded into the team and the work basically begins. So I will say it was definitely a learning curve, but it was very interesting to hear all of that.
Why do you like Philadelphia?
I had lived in Philadelphia first, then I came back, but I never really got to know Philly until I came back. I really like Philadelphia as a city. Right now I live in Fishtown, but I’ve lived in a few neighborhoods in town. I am Philadelphian. Everything about the city – walking down the street, talking to people, seeing what’s going on – I really feel at home. Philadelphia has a lot to offer, so if anyone is interested in or curious about food in the city, I could go on and on about the different things the city has.
What role did Technical.ly play in your job search?
I originally wanted to learn more about the tech scene in Philadelphia – admittedly, we’re a bit smaller, so it’s hard to know a lot of tech stuff unless you have some of the channels. And mostly a lot of the channels are more college related so it’s kind of hard for me to hear about those things. So, with Technical.ly, I read some of the newsletters, and they’re actually super interesting, just to give a little insight into the Philadelphia tech scene. And I saw some tracks on Linode.
I was looking for a job towards the end of 2020 and knew I wanted to take a big step into a new, growing and challenging company. That’s what Linode sounded like to me.
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