Tuesday, Sep 25 2012

Experience Is Essential

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Interview with Kurt Nguyen, Sr. Oracle DBA Engineer at PayPal

kurt-nguyen640x637In the tech obsessed Silicon Valley, IT job openings have become the eye candy of many engineers and young engineer graduates.  Despite the large pool of applicants, more and more companies are having a hard time finding skilled and talented candidates with essential experience.  As a Sr. Oracle DBA Engineer for PayPal, Kurt Nguyen knows all too well of the issues that arise with the lack of expertise in the tech industry.  Luckily for Armada, we were able to sit down with Kurt and find out what is essential to a successful career within Silicon Valley.

Graduating from UC Riverside with a Bachelor in Business Administration, Kurt explains that his degree had little to do with preparing him for his role as a DBA Engineer.  As he states, “I think a college degree gives you acknowledgment, but when it comes down to it [you need] hands-on experience.”  Having worked for PayPal, Symantec Corp., and Veritas Corp., Kurt believes that the first six months of any job are vital to success.  It is during these first few months that an employee really learns to understand the business and how it works.  According to Kurt, “It’s not just about knowing how to do things, but when to do things and why you are doing it.”  He agrees that once you have fully comprehended the business’s rules and procedures, then the job becomes much easier. ­

In addition to gaining a hands-on experience, Kurt accounts communication as another key driver to his success.  When dealing with people during emergency situations, he always tries to assure his customers that someone is working to resolve their issues.  By notifying and updating customers throughout the process, Kurt has discovered that people are typically more understanding and patient while waiting for the problem to be fixed.  “If you lack communication, a lot of people will just assume that no one is working on the task…and the next thing you know, it gets escalated to the management and you don’t want that,” advises Kurt.  Furthermore, he suggests communicating an approximate time of completion of any given task or asking for additional time if a deadline cannot be met.  According to Kurt, notifying the customer about not being able to make a deadline is more effective than failing to communicate otherwise.

Keeping up with the demands of the job is one of the challenging, yet best aspects of Kurt’s career.  Like a superhero of technology, he resolves customers’ issues, such as blockage, in mere minutes before data is lost.  When an issue is resolved, Kurt finds that, “Customers are really appreciative. They will reply back and say thank you, you saved us!”

In addition to supporting his customers, Kurt also enjoys helping out his teammates.  If his co-workers need a second pair of eyes on a situation, Kurt is happy to jump in and try to help to fix their issues.  In many cases, responsibilities are always changing and one is asked to do things they have never done before; so it is crucial to find a team that works well together and shares information.

When Kurt reflects on The Armada Group, he says, “I’m surprised by Armada; my experience goes beyond what I expected of a consulting company. You’re treated like a full-time employee.”  Since he is not a full-time employee at PayPal, Kurt says he doesn’t mind much about being converted to one because his experience with Armada is almost the same, if not better.  The advice he gives out to young Engineers is to seek opportunities where they will gain knowledge and experience on the job.  As he notes, “If you first come out [into the workforce], definitely seek an internship, because books and labs are not going to do it.  Get as much experience as possible!”

Contributed by: Renee Gonzalez