S4E10: Tech Advocacy, Community and Conferences With Bridget Kromhout

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Bridget Kromhout is a DevOps professional with a passion for giving back to her community.

In her professional working life so far, Bridget spent 15 years as an operations engineer, and now works at Microsoft as a Principal Cloud Developer Advocate.

Her spare time is full of tech-related and volunteer activities: she leads the worldwide conference organization Devopsdays, runs community tech events in her home city of Minneapolis, co-hosts the Arrested DevOps podcast, and frequently participates in tech conferences as both a speaker and committee member.

In our conversation, Bridget talks about how she worked her way through college, what the day-to-day of being a tech advocate looks like, her experiences attending, chairing, and speaking at tech conferences, and the various side projects she's involved in to do her part in helping others.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

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Laurence Bradford 1:13
In today's episode I talk with Bridget Kromhout, a DevOps expert and principal cloud developer advocate at Microsoft. We talk about her background and technology, how she got into tech advocacy. Her job at Microsoft and how conferences and community involvement positively impacted her career. Bridget Kromhout is a DevOps professional who spent 15 years as an operations engineer and now works at Microsoft as a principal cloud Developer Advocate. She also leads the worldwide conference organization DevOps days, runs community tech events in her home city of Minneapolis, co hosts the arrested DevOps podcast, and frequently participates in tech conferences as both a speaker and committee member.

Laurence Bradford 2:00
Hey, Bridget, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Bridget Kromhout 2:02
hyaluronic. I'm really excited to be here. This is super fun.

Laurence Bradford 2:06
Yeah, I'm really excited to chat with you about your wonderful experience in tech, you've done a bunch of different things. So I'm really excited to dive into that. First though, is there anything that you'd like to add to that intro before we jump into the other questions?

Bridget Kromhout 2:19
That's, that's perfect. That's, it's pretty much you know, hashtag ops life and life after being on call.

Laurence Bradford 2:26
Yes, and I would love to actually start talking about that when you say life on call, because you describe what that means for the listeners it for me actually, because I'm not 100% sure what that entails.

Bridget Kromhout 2:38
Okay, so my father's a physician, and sometimes we would be at, you know, the symphony, and he would leave his pager with the attendance because it was, you know, the 80s or whatever. And they would come to a seat and get him and he would have to go, I don't know, pull a piece of meat out of someone's throat in the middle of the night or whatever. And it's like, I remember thinking to myself as a kid, huh? Note to self Do not be a doctor, you get paged in the middle of the night and have to deal with things. Spoiler alert, I went into it operations, which means I get paged in the middle of the night and have to deal with things only. At least they're not dying people. They're just broken computers.

Laurence Bradford 3:14
Yes. So I know at my company, we use something called pager duty. And that's a similar like when you take a page in the night, it could be maybe through a tool like that.

Bridget Kromhout 3:25
It's apps these days. pager duty Victor ops is a number of services out there. It usually is an app and comes to your phone. No one carries actual pagers anymore. I remember I did I was I was actually on call for y2k. I am old and I was uncalled for y2k. And I had an actual physical pager attached to the strap of my party dress. And I was dancing and the strap broke and I had to like hold the pager. I didn't get called that night though, because we had actually fixed everything during the year or in the lead up to the exciting night. No hype, things would have actually gotten much, much worse if we hadn't spent a bunch of time working on it. But I guess that's kind of the opposite life thing is you do a whole bunch of invisible work. And it's valued mostly in that no one notices it.

Laurence Bradford 4:09
Yeah. And I'm How did you get into into it operations? Was this something back in college that you knew you wanted to do?

Bridget Kromhout 4:17
Uh, okay, so questionable life choices time, I've written a blog post about this because I've actually had somebody asked me how they could grow up to be me. And I was like, This is not a life path, you're gonna probably follow realistically, but I was, um, I was a student worker at the university and, you know, trying to get a student job as a computer science major. And the first student job that I noticed that would be a good idea where I could get my homework done was in the lab, like, they would have a room full of computers, you know, from like sun and SGI and whatnot. And the students would come to do to their homework. So I just got a job there. So I figured I could do my homework while I sat there and got paid to give people their printouts. That was true, but I was ended up helping people with when the computers would have problems or when they couldn't figure out how to use them. And then I noticed that the people who worked in the basement and came upstairs and fix the computers when they were broken and then went back downstairs had a lot more time to do their homework, because they didn't have to sit at the desk. And so those were the, you know, sysadmin, the students sis admins, so I got one of those jobs the next year. And then I realized that the caring care and feeding of computers is something that isn't an entire job. Like, I was getting a CS degree and I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. Exactly. And even though this podcast is called learn to code with me, like I didn't at first end up doing a lot of coding, I ended up doing a lot more troubleshooting.

Laurence Bradford 5:38
Okay, so you were back in university, you were studying computer science, and then you found the student job at the computer lab and then you realize that the people who were actually fixing and sort of maintaining the computers seemed to have more free time.

Bridget Kromhout 5:53
Or a true but

Laurence Bradford 5:57
So you sort of switched and got into that and that's really Really where it all began?

Bridget Kromhout 6:01
Yeah. And so it's, it's kind of an I have no idea if these exact jobs exist anymore, I assume some jobs. You know, I know some people who still work at universities helping with the care and feeding of the computers. But this was the 90s. And many things seemed like a good idea at the time, including a student, you know, school administrators giving the undergraduates who worked on the computers, right. So like, I had full administrator access on all the computer science faculty members computers, which is great for learning. That could have gone wrong in many ways. And it didn't, which is great, but yeah, like, I'm not sure that actually happens anymore.

Laurence Bradford 6:39
ButI feel like it honestly could have universities it wouldn't it wouldn't surprise me to be to be quite honest. But yeah, that's wild that you had all this access to like the faculties. Computers, you're probably we're fixing faculty computers as well, I would imagine. So after college, that was your first position. Doing something similar then but of course a company.

Bridget Kromhout 7:03
Yeah, so I actually left college the first time without finishing. Because a friend of mine, it was, you know, 1999. And a friend of mine actually had the temerity to send an email to the computer science staff mailing list, saying poaching in our bosses names employee pool, and three people actually did leave instead of staying at their student jobs. And this was this was a US West, which was what came before quest, which is what came before CenturyLink. So it was a it was a baby Bella was a telco. And I worked in their internet division, so on things like email and news servers, Usenet used to be a thing. I mean, it's still a thing. I think people just don't use it quite so much anymore. But you know, and authentication servers, a lot of stuff. We had a anyway well, long story short, there was A great deal of ISP work basically, that I was doing for this telco. So I did that for a few years, then I worked at a small local ISP, then I went back to the university. And somewhere along the way, I did actually finish my degree. But that was like a one class at the time at a time sort of thing, which is fine. I mean, people have this idea of like, four years in and out, it's perfect and flawless. And it's like, sometimes you get a really good job opportunity, and they pay for the rest of your classes. And you just take one class at a time. And that worked fine. So I mean, as long as you Yeah, have discipline to actually do the sparse linear matrices when you get home from work.

Laurence Bradford 8:38
Yeah, so I'm really curious about that, because I've spoken to guests on the show who have left college and at the time, maybe didn't have plans for going back. They were studying computer science or something related. I also just know folks, you know, in my day to day who, who maybe left school or got an internship there before their senior year. Just never went back to school. So how did you find that motivation to go back to school because I feel like once you're out in the real world, like making like legitimate money, like from a full time job it can be, I'm just thinking, I mean, I finished school course I studied history. So this was, you know, before I ever thought I'd get into technology, but I feel like even now, if I think about going to get a Master's or something, I'm just like, oh, but imagine going to school and not making, you know, getting a paycheck and all this stuff.

Bridget Kromhout 9:30
Well, and that's why I took my last few classes, and I didn't have very many left, but I took my last few classes one class at a time at night. So I didn't have to go back to not having a paycheck because that was not gonna happen.

Laurence Bradford 9:44
Yes, like, I feel like especially if you're in a tech career, whether you're a software engineer doing what you were doing. And you know, we all read the articles about how tech salaries in tech compensation because it's these in demand skills and as many people have, the skills tend to be higher. So it's especially in that case, I can't imagine. Yeah, just, we, I guess when you're in your situation, you're doing the class at night, which still takes a lot of motivation, even one class at a time. Yeah. Why were you going to an actual classroom? Or were you doing that? Like, I don't know what the right word? Not really online?

Bridget Kromhout 10:18
Um, I think one of them might have been remote. But yeah, the rest of them, I just went at night to an actual classroom. I don't necessarily recommend this. I'm just saying that it is definitely possible if you feel like you've lost the momentum of school and you're just working full time. And you have those couple of classes where you would have a degree. I mean, for me, the trade off was, yeah, it's a little bit of time. But once I have this degree, no one can take it away from me. And then you never know if you're going to later go to work at a place. Like I have a friend who, you know, let's go without, without finishing and then later work to the kind of annoying place that you know, wanted them to have a degree and it was like, Oh, really, I mean, Canada, he didn't end up going back and getting on He just ended up having to do some annoying paperwork to prove that they should give him this job at work. So it was like, it's kind of it's tricky. If you can finish, even if it doesn't feel like you need the degree. It's nice to finish if you can.

Laurence Bradford 11:14
Yeah. And I think especially It sounds like you're really close to finishing Anyway, you need a few classes left. And it's, you know, wasn't like after your freshman year. So you were already so close to the finish line. And that's awesome that you were able to do that. And you mentioned, were the companies you were working for at the time. Were helping reimburse that?

Bridget Kromhout 11:33
Yeah, yeah, the company that I worked for a while I was finishing it paid for it. So Which is better? Yeah. And a lot of companies offer that sort of thing. Like, they might not advertise it, but they do have it. And you might not look at it, because you'll think education benefits. I don't have kids yet. And it's like, well, actually, the education benefits could apply to you.

Laurence Bradford 11:53
Yes. And I think that I think at all, I only have experienced we're getting smaller companies, but Something that I found is, and just in many ways in life, I love this, this idea of you don't wait. You don't get what you don't ask for. Yes. So I found that in my own experiences with things relate to courses, maybe not going back to college, but some other kinds of courses or conferences or something related to professional development. Again, as you said, even though it's not advertised doesn't mean it's not possible and it doesn't hurt to ask.

Bridget Kromhout 12:25
It really doesn't, especially if, and I had some of the classes met in the afternoon. And I was like, oh, they're not gonna let me take them because it'll interfere with work. But I was able to arrange this like those days, I would come in earlier. And you know, finish up some stuff after after the class like it is, it's often a lot more flexible than you think it is. This is actually something that I see a lot is people think that there are more set in stone rules than there are like your organization probably has policies for a good reason. But they're probably also willing to work with you.

Laurence Bradford 12:57
Yes, I totally agree. And I think that again, you got to ask if you don't ask you never know what's possible. And usually, it's kind of a caveat depends on what you're asking. But within reason, of course, there's definitely no harm in that. So I'm scrolling through your LinkedIn now. And I see that you used to work at drama fever. And this is I totally random. Sorry for that. For the listeners if this is maybe not. But I had some on the show last season, who happened to work at drama fever. He was a product manager. His name was Sam. Yes, Sam, I need to like, verify that. If not, we'll have the editor take that out. But yeah, he worked there. And now I actually, at my full time job. I work with someone who used to intern there, which to me is kind of crazy, because I feel like it may be Is it a big company and I just am misinformed?

Bridget Kromhout 13:48
When I work there. I think there were about 100 people. I'm not positive, how many are there now because they've actually been acquired by Warner Brothers. So it's like, obviously we're way bigger, but I'm not sure how much They are still in the drama fever division. I think it's a little bit bigger. Maybe a couple hundred. Yeah, but I'm still friends with some of the people who work there so..

Laurence Bradford 14:07
Yeah, and set you know what Sam Gimbel he was on? Yes. And the show last Yeah, drama fever yet proc major. That's actually to me kind of crazy if I know I've now I have no three people who worked at drama fever if there was only 100 that's really high. It's really hard.

Bridget Kromhout 14:21
Probably the sort of thing that there are companies where you'll see higher than usual representation of people from there, like either on podcasts or speaking at conferences, and you'll think like, wow, I was everyone from this company do that. And some of it can end up being like, grouping behaviors like you'll get, if the company is pretty supportive of people going out and participating in things, then you may see people, you know, encourage their co workers or they see that their co workers do it. I mean, this is one of those like, one of those things. I think they don't really tell you about your career when you're starting to build it. Is that the stuff you do out in public life, whether it's a blog post for your company's blog, or it's speaking at a local meetup, or you know, even fancier things like those things are all part of your personal brand. They're all part of how you present yourself to the world. And while I was working at dramma fever, I spoke at a bunch of conferences about drama, fever technology. The next job I took after drama fever was a tech advocacy job where I was no longer on call no longer than one operating the stuff. But the direct path to how I ended up in that job has to do with that extracurricular work that drama, fever made space for me to do. So it's, I think it's great if you're, if your company is open to the idea of you participating in your wider community in whatever way, then you may stay there longer or you may not, but other people will hear about and want to work there because like the company encourages them to have a full and complete career.

Laurence Bradford 15:56
Yes, I totally agree with that. We were trying A little bit about that before we hit the record button I mentioned I want to talk more about being involved in the community and doing things outside your main, you know, job responsibilities. So, at drama fever, I'm again, looking back into LinkedIn, you were an operations engineer, but as you mentioned, it sounds like you were really given the chance there to do more talks and meetups perhaps write blog post kind of build your personal brand. And Was that something they outwardly encouraged and tried to get all folks to do at the company? Or was that something that you had this you know, own motivation on your own? You may be asked or told them what you're up to. And they were just totally supportive of that.

Bridget Kromhout 16:39
Yeah. I think it's gonna vary from person to person at an org for sure. I had done a couple of conference things before I started a travel fever. And when I when I was pretty sure that I wanted to while working there. I think what was really helpful is my boss, who I've remained friends with over the years. Um, Tim gross actually encouraged it and made sure that I had space in my schedule to work on. For example, if we had something cool we had put together. And then I was going to give a presentation about it. Like I, we did a bunch of stuff with Docker in production really early. And then I spoke about it at OS con, the O'Reilly open source conference in 2015. And that's the kind of thing that if you're, if your boss isn't going to make time for you to do it, it can be really a struggle to work a full day and then also put the presentation together in your spare time. So I think that's the kind of thing where, even though they didn't necessarily have like, a very specific like, on ramp to encourage people or whatever. They did do things like at their offices, I was remote, but at their offices in Philadelphia, they hosted like the local goaling meetup. And because we used a bunch of go, that's the kind of thing that I feel like you're making time for your employees to work on their you know, public facing materials, whether it's blog posts or presentations, and then also even like hosting meetups are things that companies can do that are really encouraging even if they think Oh, we don't have time for a formal program, there are things they can do.

Laurence Bradford 18:14
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Laurence Bradford 20:31
Yeah, and especially with the meetups, I mean hosting a meetup at your office, if you have like the, you know, the right space and all that can go such a long way. Also with hiring and recruiting. That's something I help out a bit with my full time job and I write about hiring all the time and getting jobs in tech and so on and so forth. But it's such a great way to get provide value to the community and then give more people who maybe would never have the chance to get into your office and to You know, check it out and see what you guys are working on. And I also love the fact kind of slipping back to what you were saying a bit earlier how your boss would give you time to work on conference presentations during you know, your normal work hours. And I think that's really awesome and encouraging and especially for going to the conference and you know, on the slide deck, it has like your company name like drama, fever, even though shorts, you giving the giving the talk, but you're still promoting the company and just giving. I don't like, the word promote isn't good, but you're bringing exposure to drama fever that maybe they would have had in that environment otherwise.

Bridget Kromhout 21:37
Well in plus, then when people are thinking, do I want to take a job at this company, they can Google and see Oh, engineers who work at this company are talking about the cool thing they did over at that O'Reilly open source conference. Okay, this company sounds like a place for me. Like it's kind of these hidden benefits that the company doesn't necessarily see on a balance sheet but then they see it's easier to hire in back to the meetup topic. I actually run the Minneapolis DevOps meetup. And we have a meetup tonight, actually. So this is an early start today, and then I'm running kind of late. Maybe I'll take a nap mid afternoon. But uh, we have a local supply chain logistics company called SPS commerce. And you would think to yourself, does that sound like a tech company? Well, they actually hire a lot of people to do tech things in town. And so they host the local meetups. And it's actually super funny because one person from SPS who shows up at the local meetup without fail every time is their recruiter, because he knows perfectly well that the meetup is going to attract people who are possibly interested in you know, jobs in the area and maybe don't have one or maybe have one that they want to switch out of. And so it's it's a big win for a company to be the place that's hosting local meetups just because you like you said you get people in and you get them seeing your office but you also get them seeing you as an organization are putting your money where your mouth is. putting money where other people's mouths are because you know, they often met the delicious. Meet up snacks.

Laurence Bradford 23:05
Yes, 1,000%. And so you were doing these and you still do these conferences and a lot of community involvement through your full time job and still through your full time work today. But of course, you have other projects outside of that, right like the arrested DevOps podcast. And I'm sure there's other like the meetup that you just mentioned, that you run in Minneapolis that I'm guessing isn't really tied into your full time job today. So when did that other kind of not I mean, of course, it's professional related but not specific to the full time job kind of side projects start to pop up.

Bridget Kromhout 23:42
Yeah, so I I could probably go back a couple of jobs delete the one before drama fever. I was working at a social commerce startup in Minneapolis. Fun fact, by the way, Jamie engelstad, the CTO there is now the CTO at SPS calm Which is a much bigger company. It's like, Oh, I worked with him at a training company. And you know, now I'm helping them hire people. It is big company. But he encouraged me to speak at a local bar camp like it was kind of a an unconference. And after I did that, and then attended and spoke at a couple of other smaller conferences, including DevOps days, which are, you know, community conferences that are ever in a variety of cities around the world. Somebody from Chef Michael doocy, encouraged me to run a Minneapolis DevOps days. So I did that in 2014. And then in early 2015, I actually joined the global core committee of devopsdays organizers, as the head organizer. And so being involved with a global community of people, all of which you know, all of whom I'm connected with, like I see some of them at conferences sometimes but also on Twitter with them all the time and getting cross pollination of Ideas between cities and between countries of people coming and talking about the things they're working on.

Bridget Kromhout 25:06
I think that getting involved with that was really great because I speak at conferences myself, but I also, I really appreciate having a chance to lift up the voices of other people, especially people who might not be heard from a tech all the time. And it could be because they are an underrepresented minority in tech, it could be because they are just spending all of their time writing code and didn't realize that people would really love to hear from them. So I think that, like getting involved with a wider community of people who helped make that possible. I showed me that there was stuff I could do that was not specifically tied to my employer. And in fact, I've continued doing this stuff through several different employers, but it also the surprise, I think, I knew I would be able to keep doing it. The surprise for me was I didn't realize I would end up with a job that was kind of hitting squarely in this area. Like that. That game is kind of surprise.

Laurence Bradford 26:00
Yeah. And you just led me right to the next question I want to ask, which is amazing. I would love if you could talk a bit about what you do today at Microsoft. And then I'm also looking at what you're doing at pivotal software. It sounds like you are kind of in a similar advocacy kind of role. So yeah, how did this community involved involvement turn into these sorts of roles that other software companies?

Bridget Kromhout 26:26
Yeah, so I was never planning on not being an operations engineer. Like I enjoy solving production problems and scaling systems like that stuff I really like. But when I was changing jobs most recently, oh, most recently by one. Before this change to Microsoft, Bono's changing jobs. Most recently, I was talking with a friend of mine from the devopsdays community who I know on Twitter and other pinned conferences, Andrew clay Schafer, and he made a very compelling argument that instead of being on call for my own production systems, I could help a lot of people at a lot of organizations scale up their systems. And I, I like the idea of having a pretty big impact, if I can, you know, I'm going to have the widest impact I can. And he made a pretty compelling argument is something I should at least try. So the the difference with tech advocacy is, you don't necessarily get the super fun long term, build something and watch it grow and then troubleshoot it and fix it and iterate on it.

Bridget Kromhout 27:31
Because that's not your role. But you do get a pretty firm foundation in the technology of the company that you're advocating for. And then you get to the really fun part that I wasn't expecting is you go into all of these, you know, organizations, whether they be, you know, banks or car companies or government agencies, and they all are looking to you to help them figure out what they should do, which I'm like, oh, wow, that's that's a bootloader Responsibility you're putting on me. But it also is, it's, it's in heartening to realize that I gotta say when when I was on the other side of the table, I always kind of assumed vendors were trying to sell me a bill of goods, and I wasn't necessarily very trusting of them. But if you can find vendors to work with who do have your best interests at heart, who will tell you, if something is if a solution is not necessarily going to solve your problem, like the good vendors, the ones that you can trust to not ruin everything for you just to make their quotas, which is to say, the people who work at a vendor who maybe are not on a comp plan, who don't have a sales quota to make and are just there to help you with the vendors products, they can be really, really helpful to you. So that was, it was kind of exciting to get into a position where I had to see how the sausage was made inside a lot of organizations. And hopefully, I think help them make choices that would set them on a path to everything being a lot more sustainable and repeatable. And they're on call, people would not get paged in the night.

Laurence Bradford 29:03
Got it. Got it. So you spoke already a little bit about this. But I'm curious, what is your day to day look like? And I know you, you mentioned you started your new role on Microsoft quite recently. So maybe you just want to talk about what you're doing at pivotal. However, it sounds like you aren't, you know, writing code, you're not maintaining systems, you're not doing the sorts of things that you were doing your previous position as an actual operations engineer, and instead you're out in the community more you're working with vendors, and it sounds like you're maybe doing a lot of travel.

Bridget Kromhout 29:36
This is a that's the dark secret behind any kind of devrel or advocacy or some people call it evangelism, though to me, that sounds like you're knocking on the door and asking people if they've heard the good news about Microsoft. Like, we're not going to call myself an evangelist because that's just ridiculous. But for the dark secret is yes, you really probably if you take a role like this are going to do a nonzero amount of traffic. I think Schaefer when I, when I started at pivotal, he said it would be around 30% I ended up self inflicting a lot more traveled than that of myself, but I did actually have to figure it out and 2016 for tax purposes. Some months, I was home 50% and some months I was home about 15% I was on the road about 85%. So, that is something to consider like this might not be I don't think you know, deverill tech advocacy is the kind of job you jump into first straight out of school anyway, just because you probably need to have a bunch of, I don't know, scar tissue of your own before you can go talk to people but there's, but you probably wouldn't want to do this. If you had a lot of responsibilities that made it difficult to travel like my my garden would get neglected quite a bit. And my spouse would, you know, be on FaceTime with me quite a bit. As it turns out. Cats are not interested in talking to you on video chat per tip. If you're talking to them, and they're like, no, not interested. So that is something to, you know, be warned about.

Laurence Bradford 31:07
Yeah. But I think, you know, if some people want that in a career that or they would love the opportunity to travel. In fact, my totally unrelated, but my father who's now in his 60s, and he's worked in, in tech his entire life, he travels less now, but my entire childhood, his entire career, he always was traveling a lot. Not doing the advocacy thing, but working with different clients across the country and even internationally. So I think, yeah, again, it's just something that, as you mentioned, to keep in mind, for folks that, you know, don't want to be on the go all the time. And as you said, to Yeah, it sounds like it's definitely something for people as you put half the scar tissue first in the industry experience and they, and they're really familiar with the issues and that, you know, totally makes sense why it would be a better fit for someone who's kind of been there, done that. So it's really exciting that you are now at Microsoft, and I don't want to get into The nitty gritty but I kind of want to what your title is looking at the LinkedIn principal cloud Developer Advocate. So Cloud developer, Principal cloud Developer Advocate. Okay. I understand the advocate part.

Bridget Kromhout 32:13
And principal clouds different than the other clouds. I know. Right?

Laurence Bradford 32:17
Yeah. So could you Yeah, you don't need to go into like a long winded thing, but kind of are you working on a certain product? Or how do you how does that work? Yeah.

Bridget Kromhout 32:27
Yeah. And back to I sort of got sidetracked on the travel and didn't completely answer your other question either, which is, what does this kind of job look like day to day? And I mean, the answer is you're looking at it or listening to it as the case may be. I do a bunch of podcasting and run meetups. Last, you know, last week, I think it was last week, all the way so run it together in my head. I was at velocity in New York now a week before last. I was at a conference out in New York and running a track and Some of my co workers were speaking at it. Jesse frizelle, one of my co workers at Microsoft was keynoting at velocity. Brendan burns, who works on the Kubernetes project was also speaking at this conference and Michelle nirali, who works on helm. The basically like LBC. Next week, I'm getting on a plane on on Sunday, and I'm speaking at the all things open conference and rally on Monday, and then I'm flying to Philadelphia. And I'm speaking at DevOps days, Philadelphia on Wednesday, I want to say, so I should probably finish those talks. So like, what this week looks like is I'm working on two different conference talks, one of which I've given several times, and one of which is new. But anyway, back to your about your question about how is this like Microsoft specific, the focus of my role at Microsoft is on Azure. And one of the exciting things is that I learned how to pronounce Azure because I forget Recently he was thought it was pronounced as your.

Bridget Kromhout 34:02
But I guess that's more of a European pronunciation. I don't know. But it's a because Microsoft, you know, spoiler alert has a cloud. And a lot of people think that cloud is synonymous with, say Amazon, I think both Google and Microsoft makes sure to have people out there who can talk about the features and facets of their cloud. And, you know, just kind of think about use cases. So we have a lot of exciting stuff that's just now you know, changing and growing with like, as your container instances and like different ways that people can bring containerized workloads or containerized workloads and then bring them to our cloud. So, in between working on a couple of talks I had previously lined up before I started this job, I prelims lined up for next week. One of the things that is kind of on my stretch goals that I really need to do in the next month or so, is spend enough time getting from you know, familiarizing myself with se because my specific Roll is around Linux and containers familiarizing myself with like the Azure Container stuff. So some of that I've already been through and some of my other new co workers because we're kind of a new team, I've already been through like updating some of the documentation about how it actually works, and making sure that the documentation is relevant to the communities that were already members of. And so like this is, this is all stuff that I hope that, you know, this time next year, I'll be able to tell you, I'm an expert in and the exciting thing about this job and one of the reasons I took this job is that I'm not so like, it's I think that's another thing is like, if you feel 100%, comfortable and confident with every facet of your job, and you know, the conversations you're going to have next week, they're totally in the bag because you've had those conversations last week. Like that's probably a good time to be looking at stretching yourself. Like I went to, you know, go work for Microsoft on Linux and containers. And by the way, they issued me a Mac. So it's like it's a it's a whole new Microsoft. But I went to go, you know, do this completely different thing. Because I knew I could learn and grow, not because it was easy.

Laurence Bradford 36:13
I love that I think that's actually such a great way to just end this interview on talking about, you know, stretching yourself and how you took this new role at Microsoft, and you're continuing to learn and to grow even though I mean, you've been you've been the what the tech game the industry for 1515 plus years, but you're continuing to learn new things and do new things and explore your career further. And I think that's amazing. And also I think you mentioned this earlier in the interview, or maybe it was before we hopped on the call about how someone asked you how they become you and i think i think you have such a cool job. I mean, that sounds like amazing. Obviously you work super hard to get to where you are today but I think it's something that a lot of people can kind of put as a vision of theirs right like to work in the industry for x plus years and then to get a job. But like being an advocate of these technologies, and just having that larger impact, not just impacting your company, but impacting like other companies that may use the product, people that work in the field is just yeah, it's amazing what you're doing. And like, I'm sure like you're like literally impacting thousands of people's lives and their jobs.

Bridget Kromhout 37:18
I hope so. I mean, that's I want to impact a lot of people and help them have better it experiences. Because everything we do at work, we take home with us, and we're grumbling about it, or we're smiling about it. And I think that those of us who can make the world around us better, should try.

Laurence Bradford 37:37
Awesome. Thank you so much, again, Bridget, for coming on the show. And where can people find you online?

Bridget Kromhout 37:42
So I am on Twitter as Bridget Kromhout. The spelling is probably in the show notes or you know, on the site or in your podcast app or whatever. And I do, in fact, have a Google unique name. So all of the Bridget Kromhout that you find on the internet is me and I blog occasionally at bridgetkromhout.com but I'd say Twitter's probably the easiest place. And there's going to be at a few conferences this year. But though if you want to talk to people with ideas about you know this stuff, the DevOps days conferences feel a bit DevOpsdays. org, are we I think we're in 51 cities on six continents in 2017. So there may be one coming this fall to a city near you.

Laurence Bradford 38:24
Wow. Awesome. Thank you again for coming on.

Bridget Kromhout 38:26
Thank you.

Laurence Bradford 38:33
That's our show. Thanks for tuning in. For recap, order, browse through other episodes and show notes head on over to learntocodewith.me/podcast. If you like tech related content like this podcast, make sure to sign up for my email list. You can do so easily right on the homepage at learntocodewith.me. There's a big signup form right at the top. I'll send you new blog posts tell you about time limited course deals and much more. It was great to have you with me today. Join me next week for another episode.

Key takeaways:

  • Not all jobs require a degree, but many do, so finishing school is recommended–whether it's enrolling full-time or taking one night class per semester. Having the degree can open up more doors down the road.
  • Take part in any extra tech-related activities or volunteer projects you can, because it might help a lot. Getting involved helps build a network, establish your personal brand, and show that you're a go-getter.
  • If you can work at a company that encourages that, then that’s great. Take advantage of company programs and connections.
  • Tech advocate jobs are rewarding, but they aren’t for everyone: it means a lot of time traveling and less at home.
  • If you feel like you know every little thing about your job, you should think about stretching yourself and seeking new ways to progress. Learn and grow rather than doing what’s easy, even if it means taking up a new role.

Links and mentions from the episode:

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