DevOps Institute

[EP86] An Interview With a DevOps Engineer


In this episode, Eveline Oehrlich is joined by DevOps Engineer Rafal Goralski. They discuss his reskilling journey on transitioning from being a Physiotherapist to a DevOps Engineer.

Rafal Goralski was a Physiotherapist for 9 years before transitioning to IT. The pandemic forced Rafal to find an alternative occupation, as the P.T. clinics were closed in 2020, Rafal joined the DevOps academy organized by EPAM. In 2021, Rafal graduated and got accepted for further collaboration. Currently, Rafal continues to evolve in DevOps path.

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Narrator 00:02
You’re listening to the humans of DevOps podcast, a podcast focused on advancing the humans of DevOps through skills, knowledge, ideas and learning, or the SKIL framework.

Rafal Goralski 00:16
Impostor syndrome, that’s something that I think people who are rescaling or starting something new have to manage to overcome because this will appear very frequently appeared with me if I can advise something to anyone. Don’t be discouraged by this.

Eveline Oehrlich 00:32
Hello, everybody, this is Eveline Oehrlich, Chief Research Officer DevOps Institute with another episode of our humans of DevOps podcast. And this one today is a very, very, very special one. With me, I have a now very famous person who was introduced in London at our SKILup Festival.

Rafal Goralski 01:06
Nice to meet you. Nice to be here. Thank you.

Eveline Oehrlich 01:08
Yes, thank you for taking time out of your day, which I’m sure is very, very busy. So let me give you a give listeners a quick introduction today. So I heard about a file at a as I already said, skill up event in London at the festival, where one of our ambassadors one of our great ambassadors, Pablo porch, I hope I say his name right, was talking about a learning journey and teaching DevOps and in his story, he was in his slides, and in his presentation, he mentioned the story of Gasol. And the room was very silent. Everybody was listening in you could hear a needle drop because I and that’s when I thought I have to meet this gentleman first. And second, I have to bring a story to to our listeners. But before we come to Europhile, I just wanted to say a few words on Pavel. So Pavel actually leads the DevOps Academy at EPAM, or EPM. And EPM systems is an American company that specializes in service development, digital platform engineering, and digital product design. They’re operating out of Newton, Pennsylvania. And if Pavel if you are listening, hello, Pavel. Thank you again for introducing me to FL. And thanks to fall again to jumping on this call. I think like within almost like 72 hours, I had you on there. So

Rafal Goralski 02:39
that’s correct. You are very, very time intensive moment. But I did what I could to join you.

Eveline Oehrlich 02:48
Super? Well tell us a little bit about yourself. Kapha.

Rafal Goralski 02:51
Yeah, so like you mentioned before transitioning into DevOps, I was a physical therapist for roughly nine years. I finished the school in my hometown, and then started postgraduate studies on academia of osteopathy, here in Poland, when unfortunately, the pandemic came. And for some reason, the clinics have PT workflows for a long time, because it was the whole 2020 20 was closed. So I searched for a different occupation. So it was it had to be something with computers because we were locked in home. So I thought that this will be a great choice. And I encountered on my email. The first contact was scholarship offered by CNC F Susa and Udacity. If I wanted to participate, and I didn’t have a clue what CNC F was, was, will be the cloud where we’ll be the tooling there. But I, of course, said yeah, I want to participate. And I didn’t get into that at first. So that was, it should lasted three months. But I was accepted after a month because the seats were already taken. But for some reason, they made one more seat, or a couple of more, and I could get in. And that was the first contact that I had with the tools that are used in DevOps, which I didn’t know that those were DevOps tools, then because it was introduction to Docker to Kubernetes to see ICD pipelines, and on a very high level, so that was only the theory and some some some basic repetition of the things that were done on screen because it was online and self paced. So that gave me this sort of ticket to get into the EPM academy that was organized. And the funny thing is that I got into the EPM academy after it was closed the registration. So I reached out directly to the email that was provided on site and as the root of my story that I really, really want to participate and if there will be a chance to make it happen. And one of the Are the people from HR reached out and said, Yeah, we could take you and it’s it hasn’t started yet. If you pass the interview, then it’s going to be okay. And those previous experiences from from the CNCF and Udacity course, were helpful to pass the interview and get to where I was, I was overwhelmed by, by the, by the amount of great people around me and the positive experience that was joining the Academy because it was a small community. We were nine people then. And we started learning intensively for eight hours a day. But it was it was joyful and fun. And I really miss that that period of time.

Eveline Oehrlich 05:45
So two things you have for sure is tenacity and perseverance, which are great human skills to have in this in this world. So have you in your physical therapy, and in your journey through your PT time, which I think is also a great profession because we need that, particularly for those who sit in front of our screen all day long. You hear about DevOps heavy? Did you know what DevOps was before that?

Rafal Goralski 06:12
Not at all? Not at all. It was just something that was sometimes a title on the internet where I was browsing, but I didn’t know what it what is the programming language was something else. I have no clue. So yeah, I know that sounds childish, but I didn’t know what it was a learned all those things in the meantime.

Eveline Oehrlich 06:34
Yeah. Not childish at all. Because as you might know, and as you have done that, reskilling reskilling is a very, very, very hot topic right now. There are things like with great resignation, that’s probably I like to read name it to a great reshuffle, where people are saying, Hey, I’m kind of done with what I’ve done for the last whatever years, and they’re really looking for rescaling themselves. So you are the example of a reskilling journey, which I think is fantastic. So I have another question for you. So why? Why DevOps? Was it? I mean, obviously, you said, right, you needed to do some changes, and you wanted to do something, you had home office, we all were locked into our places. So why why specifically, DevOps Was there another motivation behind that it was a pure coincidence with the CN CF.

Rafal Goralski 07:29
So there was the pure coincidence at first with cn CF. But I didn’t know that this would lead me to DevOps directly. So the next thing, my friend told me about this fantastic book, the Phoenix Project, when I read that, I read it as a thriller. So I thought that it would be a great opportunity to be a part of such a team to change something, and to have all those crazy roller coaster that they were in this book. And that kind of established my way of thinking and my way of evolving. So I thought that, yeah, this is something that I really want to do. I read obviously, a lot of articles, then what is DevOps, some some community sites. And also this broadened my my point of view about DevOps and I, then I knew that I want to be a part of it, and I want to evolve in this direction.

Eveline Oehrlich 08:25
Excellent. So if you go back into those times, as you already indicated, tough, tough times, eight hour studying, besides the time investment, and I’m sure you had challenges when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and all of that. But what other challenges would you say you had? What was the toughest thing? Where you go back and say, I made it through?

Rafal Goralski 08:49
Yeah, so there were a number, a large number of those. So basically, I had no experience in Linux. So the first contact with the terminal was on the CNC f course, when I open terminal type ls, and then something came up and I was like, Whoa, yeah, it’s works. So great. So I was really clumsy in Linux. So I really spent some time improving this. So I could be a little bit better, faster. And also a lot of things that I didn’t knew that came up a lot of terms. So the best thing that I did probably was reading extensively about any detail that I didn’t understand that I didn’t know on an even higher level, just to have a broader understanding about what I was doing because following instruction from the screen and doing replicating them, it’s easy, but knowing what it actually does, it’s something else. So I think that that’s this is the thing that I did so reading the things that I didn’t know and those were the challenges was a lot of them a lot of challenges. But like I said, gaining that deeper knowledge helped me to kind of understand it better,

Eveline Oehrlich 10:01
any specific tips you would give to people who are thinking you up your sleeves you would love to share and I know our audience would love to hear.

Rafal Goralski 10:12
Yeah, so the first thing that it’s the imposter syndrome, that’s that’s something that each of us have, I think people who are rescaling or starting something new have to have to manage to overcome because this, this will appear very frequently appeared with me. And I think that the best way was to learn even more because that the head is occupied with something else. And I didn’t have that feeling very long when I when I extensively learned about something that I didn’t knew. But it came occasionally back. So don’t be if I can advise something to anyone, don’t be discouraged by this impostor syndrome, because you’re learning and that’s, that’s natural, I think. And, yeah, just a lot of lot of courses, small courses, about the same topic. So if I was learning about Kubernetes, for example, I like to read books, watch films from from different providers just to have the same topic from a different point of view that helped me somehow to understand the topic a little bit better. And, yeah, that’s, that’s something that I would encourage everyone to do, not just one course and a very long one, but take some shorter ones on a high level, and understand the topic and then go a little bit deeper into the rabbit hole.

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Eveline Oehrlich 12:15
Of course, we all learn differently, right? I learned by reading, but I also learned by doing so where there are a lot of labs and things you were able to do so that you can actually test your skills. Yes, yes.

Rafal Goralski 12:28
So the the really fun lab was organized by Google, it was Google upskill. It was a very fun lab, because it was all time based. So there were 30 days to complete it. And it was very, very good. Because there was the terminal there was that there had to be no subscription made, no credit card provided. And you can really dive into it. So check the terminal, check the services that are provided. Also, AWS has some latest and Microsoft so it’s all free. And I think that it’s worth giving it a shot, because there’s a lot of extensive materials around there. And also, they’re practical, so we can get into the terminal to the to the border, or check your skills in the cloud on a on a server. So that’s, that’s great.

Eveline Oehrlich 13:19
So you kind of give up through those labs, you get your confidence up, you know, you can you get that self worth, right rises more,

Rafal Goralski 13:29
yeah, those small rewards, those are really important that it’s not only the red font on the screen that something’s going wrong, but also the green ones that yeah, a small success, you can go forward. And that’s something motivating and I think it’s also for us, I mean, I’m I was born in 84. So my whole generation has this sort of attitude that we like those kind of small rewards, like, you know, if you post something on Facebook, we like that someone views it likes it. And this is the same sort. It’s really addicting. And I think this is the the exact same feeling when something is done for the first time and it works. That’s that’s just amazing.

Eveline Oehrlich 14:12
So this is a little bit of a fairly personal question, so you don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. But one once you started how long did it take you? Until you realize this is it I’m really I’m really liking it. I really love this and I don’t look back to my PT time. Was it six months? Was it nine months was it? It’s still not maybe maybe you’re still not there?

Rafal Goralski 14:39
The only times where I looked kind of back at Pt career was when someone close or from the friends that I haven’t seen in a while asked me about it. That was the only time when I looked back and said no, I don’t want to go back because here is it’s the learning curve is steep, but it’s really rewarding. Like I said it Edie is also, you have to learn a lot, because there are a lot of courses, a lot of new models of treating patients with lumbar diseases or any other dysfunctions. But here, it’s all you can reach out there, there are a lot of tools that are free, open source, whenever a new technology comes out, you can, all you have to do is try and reach out for it and try it with PT is a little bit different. Because you have to organize a course you have to attend this course, then you have then there has to be tested on a couple of patients to make it work. But here is it’s under each of your hands, actually, this this whole knowledge and it’s overwhelming. But it’s it’s great.

Eveline Oehrlich 15:42
So the worst moment of your, of your journey so far, if you look back some some moment in time where you say some developer screamed at me or whatever any any worst moment, and we follow that with the best moment.

Rafal Goralski 16:01
Okay, so I didn’t encounter those moments where anyone yelled at me or did something I wouldn’t be pleasant about yet. But that may made to come. I think that the kind of wake up call was when we were divided into groups and in the DevOps Academy, and we had to do something in threes. And I didn’t know who was who were the participants in DevOps Academy, I thought that everyone was on the same level as I was, which was the true because those people were superstars in computer science as it turned out. But that gave me a wake up call that I need to work harder, even that I did. So just to catch up just to have be near on the level that they are. And that was a huge wake up call for me that I needed to speed up a little bit. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was it was a wake up call. If we talk about pleasant things, I encountered really great people that are on my path. People who had over 20 years of experience, senior developers who took me in like, on like a Padawan taught me a lot of things. And yeah, that was That was excellent. I went to one of the projects that I was assigned to and EPAM, after the academy, that I was accepted to one of the developers was very kind and had a huge impact on my thinking about a lot of things.

Eveline Oehrlich 17:33
And so that coach that peer, co who motivates you, who gives you some tips, that’s great. I remember having that person as well. Way back in my IT operations career, which even at nighttime, I was going home and just thinking that person in my head to keep me abreast and to keep me motivated. That’s great to hear. So

Rafal Goralski 17:57
great. Because whenever I had a small success outside, even when the project ended, and I had a small success, like passing official exam from Microsoft, I immediately think them that yeah, I managed to do it. And we were like, we weren’t talking for a couple of months. But then I decided to share and he was also very happy that Yeah, you did it. So great.

Eveline Oehrlich 18:19
Super shout out to that person. Fantastic. One, one additional question. And then we’re about ready to wrap up is when you Where are you? What’s next for you in terms of learning? I’m sure. I mean, you you always learn, right? We all learn every day on all kinds of things. But specifically, have you set yourself some specific goals for the rest of the year? Or for next year? Where you want to go?

Rafal Goralski 18:42
Yes, yes, of course. So this year, the sixth of October, I’m taking the Microsoft az 104 exam. So that will complement the one that I already have. So that’s the plan for this year. After that, maybe next year, maybe somewhere around January, February, I would like to do the CPA. But that’s something I need to prepare a little bit more for that. And I think the next would be also pursuing the Microsoft. So aizat, three or five Solution Architect, but that’s a little bit in the near future, but a bit more distant than that.

Eveline Oehrlich 19:20
Fantastic. Don’t forget to live a little bit, because outside of the pandemic, and we can come to Germany, come visit me. I’ll take you out for some local beer.

Rafal Goralski 19:31
Oh, there’ll be there’ll be excellent. Fun as a little reward

Eveline Oehrlich 19:35
for for your hard work. That would be fun. Well, certainly if you are in the in the in the area. I mean, the northern and the southern part of Germany, stopped by happy to guide you through some of our local breweries or whatever else, whatever beverage you’d like to prefer. Fantastic.

Rafal Goralski 19:51
Well remember that thank you very much.

Eveline Oehrlich 19:53
This has been a great conversation. This has been really, really a pleasure. very motivational, very inspiring thing. Cuba file for your fantastic honesty and your you are the spirit of DevOps. I can see it, I can feel it. I have one more question a little bit more around fun part. What is it you like to do on the weekend? Well,

Rafal Goralski 20:15
on the weekends

Eveline Oehrlich 20:15
I have you studying? No, no, no, I

Rafal Goralski 20:18
try to I try to limit this a little bit. But I have two small daughters. So I tried to spend my time with them. But in the evening, I cannot promise that I will not be studying. So that’s something that I do, just like in this book that I read about, just for fun by Linus Torvalds. It’s the same. I mean, it’s just a fun journey being paid for what what’s actually fun. Yeah.

Eveline Oehrlich 20:46
Well, that’s a great summary to your story of this was great. Thank you so much for being with us at the humans of DevOps podcast. Stay safe, stay human, and hope that everybody who’s listening in to the next time about greetings to you have a wonderful rest of the day and the weekend is coming.

Rafal Goralski 21:05
Yes, let’s let’s keep this in mind. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Eveline Oehrlich 21:09
Thank you.

Narrator 21:12
Thanks for listening to this episode of the humans of DevOps podcast. Don’t forget to join our global community to get access to even more great resources like this. Until next time, remember, you are part of something bigger than yourself. You belong

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