A DevOps Transition is Just Good Career Development

A friend shared this link with me and asked if these are good steps to making a transition into a DevOps role form more traditional IT experiences.


I have some issues with these five things that are supposed to help transition someone to a “DevOps” job. Instead of focusing on trying to find a job that fits some key buzzwords, I suggest working towards some general career development goals.

Issue 1: Ask to be placed on challenging projects

Before I was in a position of leadership and management within my organization, I used to ask to be put on new and exciting projects. And now that I am a manager, I am often asked by employees if they can take on more challenging roles. What I learned and have told people is success in given responsibilities breeds more responsibility. The way to do that is to make yourself available to take on challenging tasks as they come up. Automate and document your day to day operations so that others in your organization can take on those tasks when you are handed an opportunity to work on them.

Issue 2: Consider certifications and other training programs

Certifications and training have a place in technology. DevOps is one area in which there are strategic and tactical learning opportunities. I recommend still continuing to expand your knowledge, but I found it is more important to understand more of the underlying enterprise philosophies and strategies that DevOps is based upon. The Phoenix Project. The DevOps Handbook. Lean Enterprise. Continuous Delivery. These are some great books to help you learn strategy. On tactics, it is important to familiarize yourself with the tool set that your current organization uses and attempt to extract the most out of it. Using tools like Jenkins or Chef means that there are boundless ways to improve your current operational excellence.

Issue 3: Find a DevOps mentor

I do not have an issue with this particular bullet per se, but if you have not found someone to mentor your career in IT before deciding to move into a DevOps role, it will be a greater challenge finding leaders to mentor you in this space. I recommend finding someone to partner with on any DevOps journey who is willing to work up to that skill set with you. Since DevOps is inherently collaborative, it makes sense to work with someone wanting to improve themselves as well.

Issue 4: Build a tool that achieves new efficiencies

Any time spent working on anything other than the greatest bottleneck is wasted effort. Work to identify the biggest challenges that teams around you may be having and try to solve those. “Efficiency” is not just reducing the time it takes for a build to run, rather it is finding a way to put actionable information into the hands of the people who will most benefit from that information. It has even less to do with automation and software than it does with helping more people succeed.

Issue 5: Work on open source projects and attend meetups

So in addition to your already over-extended workload, the expectation that you put in free time and work into hobby technologies is a frustrating point for me. I much prefer to find chances within an existing organization that gives opportunities to expand your skills in a way that contributes to other people and teams around you. Your personal time would be better spent keeping your work-life balance in check.