From the age of 17, Alberto Silvestriz joined the US Army and dedicated 10 years of his life to serving the country. But after an injury, Alberto was forced to retire and jump from job to job. In hopes of rewriting his career and finding a job that he loves, Alberto signed up for the Linux for Jobs program, an intensive training program offered by edtech company Yellow Tail Tech.
Now, Alberto works as a Linux System Admin / Network Junior Engineer at Red Hat Certified Linux (RLCS), a role that he has fully embraced with satisfaction.
Here’s his success story.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before attending Yellow Tail Tech?
After I graduated from high school, I went to the military and spent 10 years there. But when I got hurt, I retired and then I kind of jumped from job to job. I had two young kids at a very young age and needed to provide for them. So I did some marketing and promotions jobs, I worked as an electrician, I worked on construction, and eventually, I landed a job at the United States Postal Service.
There, I held two positions as a mail handler and a sales and service associate. I spent 10 years working at the post office. It was a great job and they paid me well, but it wasn’t something I loved. My wife also works for the post office, so we were stable financially at that point. So when she told me to go do what I love, I went for it.
What motivated you to explore a new career, and why did you decide to pick Yellow Tail Tech?
I’ve always been drawn to IT and that’s when I found Yellow Tail Tech…I was so excited about Yellow Tail Tech, but then I found out that my work schedule didn’t line up with their core schedule. I just took the leap of faith and said, “You know what? Let’s just try it.” I quit the post office and said, “I’m ready to sign up for [Yellow Tail Tech] and give it my all.”
I’m glad I did because it was worth the struggle.
[As for enrolling in the Linux for Jobs program], it was really not that I decided to choose to learn Linux. I knew that it existed, but I had never researched it deeply. When I went and looked for more information about Linux, I noticed that basically all these platforms that we use nowadays—especially in the enterprise world—run on top of a Linux kernel.
No matter what the concentration is, you’re going to encounter some Linux in the enterprise world at some point in time. It just felt right [to learn Linux] after my research.
How did you finance your education, and what were some of your biggest considerations when making this choice?
I was fortunate enough to have a little bit of money saved up so I was able to put some money up front and then seek financing [through Yellow Tail Tech’s partners] for a little more than half of the course. The greatest thing I think about their financing plan was that during the first six months, I don’t remember if we paid anything or if the amount was so low that it felt like nothing. Even after that period, the payments weren’t crazy. It was a really good deal and really flexible.
It was a big help because it would’ve been hard to get into the program if I were expected to pay for the entire tuition out of pocket.
The tuition reimbursement guarantee also gives you confidence that the program is foolproof. If you have done your end of the deal but the program didn’t work, you get the reimbursement. You don’t feel like you’re getting asphyxiated with debt or pressure. Yellow Tail Tech definitely makes it really easy.
What did you like about the program? Are there any highlights that stood out to you?
On top of that, all the modules and the information they provided for the classes were condensed in a way that was understandable. We were not given a whole book of reading material that we didn’t understand. They provided a lot of practice material for us as well.
The fact that they offered internships to get us job-ready was also nice. We also had career success coaches who helped us along the way.
Another big plus is that Yellow Tail Tech didn’t try to rush me through the program unlike some other online courses right now where you feel like they’re just trying to rush you through and get you out.
At Yellow Tail Tech, they’ll tell you the amount of time it’s going to take and the level of commitment you should be ready to give to get through the program. It made me feel at ease that I received that kind of support. It just made it easier to trust the program basically.
How did you fit the program into your schedule?
Well, for me, I think it was easy because the hours that I had to spend attending the classes were very manageable. Since my kids were already older, they didn’t require much supervision. They knew I was taking classes and that they needed to behave and not interrupt me.
We spent two hours on classes and it was up to us to find time to study. I wasn’t working at the time so I could put in a little extra effort. That said, I think that even though I was working, the hours and support that Yellow Tail Tech offered would have made it very manageable still to complete the program. Not only do they deliver classes live, but they also have recordings that you can go back to and watch to keep up.
Can you give us any examples of projects that you worked on during the program?
During the internship, we learned how to install IPA clients, which is basically to keep a record of a database of all our users and policies so we can have a centralized source. We learned to install monitoring tools like CheckMK, use Ansible, and update policies for a production and developer environment.
It was so fascinating that I actually ended up putting together my own Ansible lab–nothing fancy–where I was able to practice and run updates on my own notes and management.
Learning that skill has allowed me to work on a project at my current work, where I will be automating a lot of our day-to-day tasks. Having such skills is allowing me to bring value to my company and make our lives a lot easier.
Do you have any advice for someone considering this program?
My biggest advice will be to follow the program, even if you already have some sort of experience. The program is 100% foolproof if you just follow it. Do not try to get ahead of it, and make sure that you are willing to commit to the program. That’s very important. You only have classes on certain days of the week. For me, it was Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. You have to be willing to sacrifice a little bit more than that so you can grasp every concept they teach.
Did you secure a new position after the program?
I found a new job [as a Linux System Admin / Network Junior Engineer at Red Hat Certified Linux (RLCS)].
How did the program support you in finding a job?
First of all, I’m a very shy person. When it comes to interviews, I overthink. So having mock interviews at Yellow Tail Tech with a panel of people interviewing me was great. It prepared me for real job interviews where there was more than one person conducting the interview. It wasn’t so much like a one-on-one.
When I landed my new job, I was actually interviewed by four people and they fired questions at me left and right. So it was great to have already felt comfortable with that setup because of the experience I had with the Yellow Tail Tech panel.
Yellow Tail Tech also helped me with resume optimization. They didn’t do it for me but instead showed me how to do it. So now that I’m on my own and growing on my job, I have this knowledge that I can apply when I create my own resume and add value to it as a professional.
Was the job search process different from what you expected?
No, not really. But it was a lot of work to just get myself out there. I started getting calls immediately after posting my resume. Interviewing took a few tries, and I got told “no” several times before I got my “yes”, but it was worth it. I always felt prepared thanks to the mock interviews and guidance that Yellow Tail Tech provided.
How many companies did you interview at? How did you choose which one to work with?
I was interviewed by seven companies and I got three offers. I landed with RLCS, and they just loved my resume. They were like, “We love what you bring to the table. We see that you have experience. We would like to extend you an offer right here.”
The environment felt right. I was also taking into consideration what I was going to be doing. The other offer shifted more towards database Linux system administrator, so I was strictly going to be working with databases.
With RLCS, it seemed like I would be exposed to a lot more. So to me, the logic was that I’m probably going to get more experience and knowledge from this job than from the other one. It was a no-brainer. I accepted the offer on the spot.
How are the skills you gained from the course useful in your current career?
They’re very useful. I’m working with different programs. I’m also working with FreeBSD, but all these programs are like cousins. So just being able to maneuver through a Linux command line has opened so many doors for me.
All these skills I learned, I can even apply to Windows servers, which we are also managing. Knowing how to maneuver through an operating system and its different components has prepared me to adapt and overcome other things that I didn’t learn in the course but will encounter at work.
What do you think is different about your life now versus before the program?
Happiness. I’m happy. I was very unhappy at my other job because I didn’t love it, but I did it because I had to. Being able to work on something that I love is great along with the financial freedom that it has given me.
I also love the freedom that I get at work. I work on-site, but I can also work remotely if I wanted to. That’s what’s great about the IT field; it’s versatile and flexible.
What do you find fulfilling about your current line of work?
The most fulfilling thing is that I’m always learning and that I get to do what I love. I’ve never been in a job where I feel like I don’t have a ceiling—until this…I probably will never be bored because there’s always something new to learn and room to keep evolving as a professional.
What do you enjoy about working at your current company? Are there any specific perks you enjoy?
One of the biggest things that I like is that my company has its own data center. So I get to work on service, which is something I’ve never been exposed to…Having that exposure is a big perk for me.
Since we’re managing so many clients, it’s great to be able to be onsite and also see the other spectrum—not only the infrastructure that’s running up the background but also the infrastructure that we deploy onsite so they can work together.
Do you have any job search advice for someone considering a career in your field?
Apply, apply, apply.
If you’re looking for a job, don’t limit yourself to only one thing. When I was looking for a job, I was not just looking for Linux Admin roles, but also for anything that had to do with the field.
Linux system administrators not only stay on the Linux command line. They also handle different software or third-party applications. Reading about these things is going to help you, and it’s going to expand the jobs that you can apply to.
Apply even if you think you’re underqualified. A lot of employers, when they see that you have the core or baseline experience, will be willing to teach you. So, just apply.
The worst thing you can hear is a “no”, and that’s fine because that’s one less “no” that you can check off the list, and that “yes” is going to come eventually.