December 21, 2022

The Secret to Landing a Job at Microsoft with Jerry Condra - Ep. 76

The Secret to Landing a Job at Microsoft with Jerry Condra

Here's How Microsoft Select Their Talent!

If you’ve ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes when applying for a position at Microsoft, then this episode is for you. We have Jerry Condra, an engineering manager working for 15 years at Microsoft to give us a sneak peek at how Microsoft selects its talent!

In this episode, we talk about:

- How Jerry got a job at Microsoft using a certification and his network
- Behind the scenes of working & hiring talent at Microsoft
- How soft skills can be more valuable than technical skills
- The pros and cons of job hopping & staying at a company

Ryan and Jerry also talked about imposter syndrome and how you can overcome it especially if you're new at your job!

Enjoy the episode!

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Want to learn how to get a $100,000 IT job using certifications and bootcamps? Check out the previous episode

Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Ryan: Aloha folks, and welcome back to Degree Free, where we teach you how to get the work you want without a college degree. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama. Now, before we get into today's episode, I did have a couple of asks for you. One, one of the biggest things that we hear is how people don't have a network.

Ryan: So if you have LinkedIn and you're trying to network, follow and connect with me. Just go to LinkedIn and search for Ryan Maruyama, Ryan M A R U Y A M A. Two, if you'd like to get a short email every week that has different degree free jobs, degree free companies and tips and tricks to get you hired without a college degree, then go to and sign up.

Ryan: Now, today's guest is Jerry Condra, Support Engineering Manager at Microsoft. This is a great conversation where we got to peek behind the curtain of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Jerry's been there for 15 years, so he knows what's going on. We talk about how to get into IT and some of the biggest weaknesses that he sees in people that are coming up today.

Ryan: This episode has something for everybody. If you wanna say hi to Jerry, you can find him on LinkedIn links to where you can find him. And everything else that we talk about in the episode will be at degree Condra. And without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Jerry Condra.

Ryan: Aloha folks, and welcome back to Degree Free. I am super excited to have today's guest on Jerry Condra. Jerry, thank you so much for making the time. 

Jerry: Absolutely happy to be here. I think it's very cool to just be invited. So thank you. 

Ryan: Jerry, I wanted to start kind of at the present and kind of going over what it is that you do and the company that you work for.

Ryan: If you could just give us a little bit of your background, that would be great. 

Jerry: Yeah, so for the last nearly 15 years, I've been working for Microsoft, started out as what we called back in the day called a Premier filled engineer, working in the world of exchange, outlook, all that sort of stuff. So, I've wore many hats before that, but exchange was kinda my bread and butter coming into Microsoft.

Jerry: After doing that for a few years, I moved into something, a role called Technical Account Management. Basically, that was delivering against contracts that customers had purchased through Microsoft. So I managed consumption of contracts, optimization, troubleshooting, all those types of things for various customers.

Jerry: A lot of that time was specifically within the Department of Defense. So I spent a lot of time working with those folks. And then about three years ago, I decided I wanted to get into people management and, kind of explore that side of the business. So for the last three years, I've been a people manager. self manage Teams anywhere from 30 to 35 consultants, engineers down to, currently I'm managing about 11 engineers, a team of 11 engineers and, just addressing customer needs, helping customers restore service or optimize or get to the next iteration of whatever technology they're on. Just provide that ongoing support and, help them realize their solutions and objectives and things like that.

Jerry: So that's pretty much for the last 15 years, what I've been doing. 

Ryan: When you say people manager, what is that opposed to? Whereas that's rather being like a fingers on keyboard manager? 

Jerry: Yeah, it could be. Yeah. So we say people manager, because you're responsible from an HR perspective, for a team of individual contributors.

Jerry: There's also a business aspect of it, but, you could be a manager of a program and not necessarily be managing people. So , at least within Microsoft, we call it being a people manager, where you're managing individual contributors, but you also work within the business. You're working on moving the business forward, whatever that may be for the business.

Jerry: So, there's kind of two parts to it, but my primary role is, taking care of and supporting and being there for the folks on my team. 

Ryan: Going from people manager and being a manager of a product. Like in your current role, like how much technical skills are you using from what it sounds like, it sounds like you used to be in a much more technical role, like hands on when you were doing exchange at the very beginning.

Ryan: Yeah. But now it kind of seems like with the people management, it's kind of all soft skills and kind of just as you said, removing roadblocks for them. 

Jerry: Exactly. 

Jerry: Exactly. 

Jerry: Yeah. I mean, it varies. I mean, you know, some of the guys that I work with are still super technical guys. They could, they could jump into a case and, you know, just start working with a customer, troubleshooting and things like that.

Jerry: Personally, I haven't been on a server console or user interface for probably almost 10 years, . So what my technical background allows me to do is have a conversation with people and understand what they're saying, where they're going. You know, what that means. It's like, okay, I may not be able to get into the weeds with you, but I can, understand what you're telling me and, kind of help go.

Ryan: What made you want to make the change to a people manager? What was the impetus of that? 

Jerry: Well, I had done the account management thing for a long time, so I really understood that part of the business. And, you know, I just was looking for, you know, another aspect of the business to kind of work in and yes, I really started doing a lot of, probably five years ago I really started doing a lot of reading and personal development, professional development and leadership stuff.

Jerry: And, I kind of realized at this stage of my career, that was the next logical step for me was to kind of go that route and, so I had already had a lot of experience around working with individual contributors. I didn't manage them necessarily, but you know, I had to work with them on the contracts that I had for my customer and, I felt like it, it was a good fit for me. And so it was just sort of me, it's kind of a natural progression. One of the, one of the things I've noticed in my career is about every five years I start thinking about, okay, where's, where am I going next? What's the next role for me?

Jerry: And that's just how I've kind of gone through my career. 

Ryan: Just to give some definitions for the people listening, could we define what individual contributors? 

Jerry: Yeah. So if you're an individual contributor, that means you don't have anybody reporting to you. You're just a, worker bee is not the right word because the people that I work with are not just worker bees.

Jerry: They're extremely talented people that, that do their job. So, but you know, an individual contributor is somebody that you know is working in the business, is working. Solutions and outcomes and things like that for customers. They're the ones that are putting hands on keyboards and things like that for the most part.

Jerry: So, when you talk about individual contributors, it's not a manager. So, that's basically what it looks like. 

Ryan: Excellent. You kind of said five years ago that you started to look at professional development. More seriously. What were you doing? You said you were reading, but what books were you reading? What resources? 

Jerry: So I started with John Maxwell. I'm sure you know your listeners and many other people are very familiar with John Maxwell. He's one of the, foremost leadership guys out there. So I just started reading a lot of his books and listening to podcasts and things like that, that, I was introduced to other books and, other speakers and things like that.

Jerry: So I just kind of expanded from there. But, I was constantly reading and trying to understand myself better and understand how to, develop those soft skills that are needed for leadership and, it was just something that I wanted to be able to understand. So, that's where I, where I started. 

Ryan: I kind of wanted to talk about your stint at Microsoft so far. One of the reasons why I was really excited to have this conversation is because, as you said, you've been at Microsoft for 15 years now, and in a day and age where so many people are kind of like going from job to job and, I'll take responsibility for some of that.

Ryan: We tell people one of the best ways to get like a pay raise and everything like that is to every few years. One to two years. Take that, take that leap. Go get that pay raise somewhere else. Go get that title, raise somewhere else, and then take that somewhere else next time. What are the advantages of staying at Microsoft for 15 years?

Ryan: And then on the flip side of that, what are some of the disadvantages? 

Jerry: Yeah, so I think, you know, working at Microsoft for 15 years, I mean, it's. It's been an amazing ride for me. As an IT guy, at least for me, you know, Microsoft was sort of the pinnacle. If you get to Microsoft, it's like getting to the NBA or the NFL or something like that as an IT guy.

Jerry: So, you know, it's not perfect but I've been able to work with some amazing people and I, I think, in terms of just the job hopping and things like that's never been something I've liked to do. I mean, you're absolutely right. You know, you people bounce around and they, you know, get 20, 30% increases and stuff like that.

Jerry: I've always been the type of person that like to, come into a position, grow in the position, you know, work with the, work with, the teams and other leaders and just kind of branch out from there and just kind of grow and build that foundation. Maybe it's a fault, I don't know but for me it's worked best for me in my career to go into a role.

Jerry: You know, grow and just kind of stay there and contribute long term. I think part of the benefit of staying long term is you get to really see the vision that the particular company has and, have impact towards that vision and, just be a key part of that growth.

Jerry: You know, I think job hopping doesn't always give you that. I guess it depends on the role that you're in, but, job hopping doesn't always give you that ability. You know, definitely some of the benefits of job hopping are, like you said, you know, increasing your income, you know, you definitely expose yourself to a whole different network.

Jerry: You know, getting to learn, learn about new people and new ways of doing business, new, just, if you go from Microsoft to Amazon, it's gonna be a completely different experience. Before Microsoft, I was at HP and it was kinda the same there. I just went in there and wanted to grow, and then Microsoft came along and I was like, Man, I'll retire from here if they'll let me.

Ryan: And so that was actually a perfect segue because I was gonna, uh, ask you next is, do you plan on staying there until retirement?

Jerry: Yes, to some degree. I do have a little side business for coaching for, coaching business folks and, life coaching, business coaching, that type of thing.

Jerry: Ideally, when I turn 60, I would love to these days, these days, I would love to walk away from corporate because corporate, after you've been in corporate for a long time, there's just some things that are. Particularly today. It's changing so much that, so unpredictable.

Jerry: Particularly, you know, if you're watching the news today, there's so much going on, with our economy, I wanna be able to have something that that's mine, something that I can fall back on. And so I'm building that side business and, somewhere down the road, I'm 50, almost 57, so it's not like I got a long ways to go.

Jerry: But at somewhere around 60, I could see myself tapping out of corporate and, doing the coaching thing full-time. Speaking in that type of thing. 

Ryan: Amazing, amazing. do you, are you actively taking clients right now for your coach, for your coaching? I do. Perfect. Give yourself a plug, where can people learn more about your coaching?

Jerry: Well, you can't, I don't actually have a website. That's because it is just a fledgling business right now. I'm on LinkedIn. You can certainly catch me on LinkedIn and reach out to me if you wanted to because I do work 40, 50 hours a week. I don't carry a full load of, clients, but I do have two or three at the moment.

Ryan: Awesome. One of the things that I did want to ask you, and you don't have to. Answer within yourself, or you don't have to answer the question at all if you don't want to, but we were talking about raises and switching around from company to company. Just specifically speaking from Microsoft, you've been there for a long time.

Ryan: How is Microsoft with giving raises? When in the same role, like typically when I was working in corporate America, like I worked for public regional bank and they would give, the typical 2-3% inflation rates. Yeah. Raise every year if you didn't move up, like if you didn't.

Ryan: But even when you did move up, the raises were not very big. Like you would, I would literally see a listing for, like an external listing for a job that's say, let's just say it was $60,000, but if you were internal and you were making 30, they would only get you to like 45 or 50, which is kind of insanity to me but a lot of people have the dream of working in tech and working for these big companies, but they never get to see how the inner workings of like, how the pay actually works. And so I was wondering if you could shed some light on that. 

Jerry: Yeah. You know, having moved into the people manager role, I do get direct exposure to that. And so it was a little bit eye-opening, when I went into that, came into this role, for the last, few years that I've been in it. You're right, the raises have been pretty minimal, 2, 3 percent, you know that right around there. Now, where Microsoft, does reward people is around, around stock options, around stock and bonuses.

Jerry: So you can do really well with stocks and bonuses. So just kind give you a range, if you're a consultant or you know, even a manager or something like that, you know, your, your bonus could be 20% of your base eligible salary. So you could, I, you could see some one coming in with a bonus of 20,000-30,000 and then stock, you could get, you could get 25, 30, $40,000 worth of stock and that vests every 90 days.

Jerry: So, and that's, and that's where Microsoft has really focused. Its rewards is around bonuses in stock, not so much the the pay, I will say. In this last year though, Microsoft did up to the compensation from a raise perspective, and we saw definitely better, better raises this last year.

Jerry: So hopefully that continues. So we'll see.

Ryan: There's a really important aspect that I kind of just wanted to pick here for people's personal, financial like aspect for their lives. It can really matter where you choose to work. And what I mean by that is like for you, 15 years of working at Microsoft and then also if you were getting, stock or options, stock options for the entire time, that could be a considerable amount if you picked the right horse.

Ryan: So a lot of people. Say, oh, I'm gonna go to this startup because they're gonna pay me. A hundred thousand dollars, and right now I'm getting paid $60,000. Yeah. With like a $20,000 bonus or a $20,000 stock option package. If you pick the right horse and you stick with it, there's the opportunity of a very large payoff.

Ryan: Whereas the cash, when you go to startups, all, most startups fail, right? I mean, it's just a statistic that, every two year or a startup doesn't make it to two years. Most 50, 60% fail before they reach two years. And so that's something that I think a lot of people listening have to take into consideration when thinking about where they're gonna move in their career.

Jerry: Yeah, I think it kind of comes down to what is your appetite for risk? What's your risk profile? You know, uh, and I think that may be why I stick around with the same companies for a long time. Is it because my appetite for risk is not as great as others, they're willing to step out and go, you know what, I, this may, I may flop, but you know, I'm gonna go and try and see what happens with this startup.

Jerry: I've seen people do that. I'm a pretty conservative guy when it comes to risk taking even in my investing and things like that. So that's just kind of my profile. 

Ryan: I kind of wanted to go way back. Okay. I was doing some research and looking at your LinkedIn, I saw that you were in the military at one point.

Jerry: I was, yep.

Ryan: And from what it says on your LinkedIn is you got out of the army in 89 and then there's about an 11 year gap. Where your next job listed is Assists Admin at SRA and I wanted to know, what did you do in the 10 years after the military? 

Jerry: Oh, gosh. Lots of things. Let's see, I worked, after I got outta the military, I spent, probably about eight years working for Walmart, believe it or not.

Jerry: I was, I wanted to go into, you know, management, and this was back in the day when Walmart was, Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays, it was open 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM So it was kind of a good gig, but as I, the longer I stayed there and, now this was another area where I went in as a stock clerk guy, you know, I just wanted to go in and let me just learn from the ground up.

Jerry: And then, you know, as some, eventually I'll get to a point where, I can go into a manager program, manager training program or grant, you didn't have to have a degree. So I did that for a long time. Went through all sorts of different positions , within the store and they did eventually ask me if I wanted to go into the manager training program, but by then, you know, the hours that managers were working was just ridiculous.

Jerry: And I was like, nah, I'm doing something different. . so and so I got outta there. I started working for a hotel. Worked for a hotel as a manager for a few years, probably a couple years. And then, around that time is probably when I got introduced to IT, 'cause this would've been around the mid nineties roughly.

Jerry: So I got a job pulling cable here in San Antonio. If you're familiar with the San Antonio, well maybe you're not, but Seguin is about 45 miles up the road and got a job pulling cable at, what was Motorola at the time? It Motorola plant out there. It's not the Motorola plant anymore but, so I worked out there for about a year pulling cable.

Jerry: That's where I actually, was introduced to sort of the, the world of Microsoft and Novell and some of these other places. I I was in the, I was pulling cable in an area where the only air conditioned area was the computer room. It was what we call a fishbowl, cuz it was all the walls were just glass, so you could see in, and I saw this guy in there and he was standing at this big console and I'm out there sweating my tail off, pulling cable.

Jerry: And, so I just went in there and said, Hey, what are you doing? He says, oh, I'm setting up this, Novell network. And I was like, I don't even know what Nobel Network was at the time. I don't even know if Nobel's still around, but, I was in a nice air conditioned area and I was like, this, I wanna do this

Jerry: And I started kind of looking into that a little bit and that led me to a bootcamp that was, for Microsoft certifications and then ironically enough, my father-in-law, we went to visit, we went to visit this right around the time my wife and I got married, and I think it was my first time visiting though, up there in Virginia.

Jerry: And he had on his office wall a certification for Microsoft, Microsoft certified, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. And I'd been looking into that and I said, Hey, what do you think about that? And he said, I think it's a great idea. And so, I was like, okay, I'm sold. So I came back to San Antonio and, there was a school that was open here at the time, and, it was eight months of certifications and, that, uh, that kind of got me into, into that world.

Jerry: And so I, my, my official IT career, I would say launched in 99. You know, 1999. So between the time of getting out of the military and getting into that, that schooling, there was just odd jobs, you know, Walmart, and then I worked, doing the, pulling the cable. I worked at a furniture store. So just a bunch of odd jobs like that, trying to figure out what I wanted to do.

Jerry: And, you know, when I was in my late twenties, early thirties, . 

Ryan: See, that's amazing because the reason why I ask about that specific time is that a lot of people that listen to this podcast, they're in that time of their life right now. They're making that transition and it's just so helpful to have people like yourself that have been there.

Ryan: Right? And as you said, you know, stocking shelves at Walmart, right? And sweating, pulling cable and seeing something that you want. Not sure how to get it, but then figure out how to do it. Come up with a plan, and then execute that plan. And I think that is the most important thing that we could do, is just basically just highlighting what you've done and how to get there. With the certification that you got, was it a full-time thing or were you still working, pulling cable? 

Jerry: Oh, yeah. No, I was still working. So I was working a full-time job and I went to school, I went to the school two nights a week and then, every other Saturday for eight hours. So, you know, two nights a week I was at the school from six to 10, so I went in there after work and, did the class from six to 10.

Jerry: And then, you had, of course you had to do your studying and things like that, preparing for the certifications as they came along and then, those long days on Saturdays, went eight months with a whole lot of Saturdays that I didn't get to have but, those are the things that you do.

Jerry: And I was fired up at it. I was, I was like, man, this is awesome. I'm gonna, I'm gonna get to use this. I finally have clarity on where I want to go and what I. 

Jerry: So that was, that was nice.

Ryan: After that, you got that certification and you were like, looking for jobs. What did that job search look like?

Ryan: Because from my understanding, you had never done it before, but now you have this certification. Was it just like, hallelujah and the doors just opened up for you as soon as you put in your applications where people knocking on your door to get in? What did that look like?

Jerry: No, not quite. 

Jerry: So there was a little bit of a road trip there where I landed a job.

Jerry: I I can't remember how I came across this job. It was, can't remember where it was, if it was an ad or something like that. Cause this was, this is in the late nineties. So we didn't have much of the internet. We had the internet, but it was nothing like it is today. And so I got a job setting up computers in the local school systems here in San Antonio.

Jerry: And so I did that. Probably close to a year setting up, just going to school by school setting, just bringing in all these computers and getting upset up and configured and all that for the network and then a buddy of mine was in IT, he was a programmer at the time and he was working for a little contract consulting company that worked primarily on a technology called Tivoli at the time.

Jerry: Don't know if Tivoli was around anymore or not either, but, so he was, he was a really good friend of mine and, I credited him for getting me that first real job, after setting up PCs for so long. So I was in this consulting company and that consulting company was at for Sam Houston here in San Antonio.

Jerry: And, while I was there, I came across another job and, because during the certification boot camp that I went through, exchange was one of my certifications. And, so Exchange 55 at the time. And so, I started, making friends with some of the guys that are on, in the, at Fort Sam, and turns out they needed an exchange five, five admin.

Jerry: And I was like, well, I've got a certification, I don't have a whole lot of experience, but I got a certification. They said, well, let's interview you. So they interviewed me, I got the job and left that little consulting company and went to Fort Sam and worked as their exchange five, five admin for, oh gosh, about four years I guess.

Jerry: And then, that led to another job that got me closer to HP and so it was just one little door opening after another so it was a lot of networking. I will say that if there's anything you can do out there, it's network with people, particularly in the fields that you're looking to go into.

Jerry: Figure out a way to find out who those people are. Maybe you've got a friend, something like that. But that's probably where most of my jobs have come from is just who you know and who knows you. 

Ryan: Absolutely. And that's the most common thread that we've seen with all of our past guests. And the numbers show it, depending on the survey, 40 to 80% of all jobs are filled informally, and that's like through people's network and what it seems like the key piece for everybody is obviously yes, who you know, but exactly what you just said is like, who knows you. And what you are doing to further yourself and your goals. Like you had these Microsoft certifications, but you weren't doing that job yet, but when the opportunity was, was there for you, you could say, I'm ready to I'm ready to take it.

Ryan: I'm ready to jump, I'm ready to jump on it. 

Jerry: Oh, wow. Absolutely. Well, one of my favorite quotes, uh, by Louis Pasteur is he says, "Chance favors the premared mind." and you gotta be ready. The opportunity just will come but are you ready for those opportunities? That's what it really comes down to.

Ryan: Exactly. 

Ryan: And I wanted to talk about when you were doing the, your first role, because. You went from getting certified, had never done it before, ever and now you have this role and you're in a completely different environment. How was it when, first starting out? One of the things that we see is that there's so much imposter syndrome.

Ryan: One of the things that we tell people is one of the best ways to get in, get your foot in the door is to get a certification if it's right for you but then everybody's just like, oh, they won't hire me because they don't have any experience and then if they do get hired, they are absolutely terrified of like messing it up.

Ryan: And so there's this imposter syndrome of like, I don't belong here. I can barely. , I can barely type Microsoft, you know what I mean? 

Jerry: Yeah. I, I joke that, even after being at Microsoft for 15 years, I still wait for them to figure out that I don't know what I'm doing and say, get outta here,

Jerry: I don't know that ever really goes away. It definitely plagued me, in my early years, being in a, a server admin, particularly when I got that exchange five, five admin job. I mean, I had the certification and I knew my way around exchange, but, I hadn't done, hardly any, troubleshooting or anything like that.

Jerry: So, I guess the benefit was that, you know, I did have some, you know, I did have a senior guy that was on the team, and so, he was kind of mentoring me along the way, but, you know, you just, I just got in there and I was like, if somebody called me up and said, Hey, we've got this outlet client and they're not getting mailed and we're trying to figure out what's going on.

Jerry: And I'm like, you know, I checked the server, I checked, their account and you know, is it all good? It's like, it's all good. It's like, okay, well I don't have an answer for you at the moment, so let me go do a little bit of research and then I'll come back to you. And so, you know, I. I just, I didn't try to BS my way through it.

Jerry: I just said, Hey, I don't know the answer, but I can get you an answer. So, and then I would go back and I would figure it out and I would get them the answer and, , you do that a hundred times and you learn a lot of stuff. So, you just, yeah, it's fearful, 'cause you don't, you're just waiting for them to, for the hammer to drop and for them to let you go.

Jerry: But luckily that never happened.

Ryan: What we've figured is that learning how to find the answer is more important than having the answer because you're gonna always gonna brush up if you're always stretching, if you're always trying to better yourself, you're always gonna run into a situation or a scenario where you don't know the answer.

Ryan: So you have to go and you have to know how to find it. Whether, and it could be as simple as, the correct person to ask. It could be as simple as knowing what to, especially nowadays, like knowing what to type into Google 

Ryan: And for like systems administrators or something, stuff like that.

Ryan: If you have a big knowledge base or something like that. Like just knowing how. That information out of it and then handing that information to the right people to then go make decisions on whatever's going on. 

Jerry: Yeah. I think, within Microsoft, that was probably one of the things that I learned right away going into Microsoft, was that everybody there wants to see you succeed.

Jerry: Everybody is, you it's like there's always somebody smarter than you always and so, find those people and they, what I found is that everybody in Microsoft was totally willing to share their knowledge. Before Microsoft, that wasn't always the case. When I worked with different contract companies, consulting companies, people kind of hoarded their knowledge cuz it made them indispensable so to speak.

Jerry: And so they didn't really wanna share a whole lot because, if they teach you, well now there's two people that can do this, maybe they don't need me cuz I, make too much money. So they let me go and let this other guy, keep working because he makes less and, but has the same knowledge.

Jerry: But in Microsoft it's like everybody just wants to teach you to fish and so there's always somebody you can reach out to. Now, when I was in my technical role, I mean, gosh, man, even today, the team that I managed today, they're some of the smartest guys in Microsoft and they are constantly in teams, you know, asking questions, Hey, do you know how to do this? Have you seen that? 

Jerry: And these are some super, super smart guys and gals, but, you don't, you can't know it all. So you gotta be able to just, accept that and, let somebody know. Cause I think what I found is that, clients, if you'll just don't try to BS them.

Jerry: Just say, look, I don't have the answer for you, but I've got the entire backing of Microsoft and I will get you the answer that you need. So, and you those knowledge bases, we've got an amazing knowledge base in Microsoft, so yeah, you can definitely dig into that. 

Ryan: Yeah, that's something that's really important.

Ryan: And a lot of people, unfortunately, as you were saying, they don't have that within their own company, but you can also foster that within certain professional groups as, I mean, as long as you're not giving away like proprietary data or anything like that but like I've noticed that for myself, since I've switched over to being a full-time entrepreneur, business owner, I'm on an island.

Ryan: Right? Like, I don't have a company to bounce ideas off of or other people within it. So I had to create a quote unquote network of people that are also doing a very similar thing where we can get together and just spitball ideas and be like, I don't know, is this dumb ? And most of the time they say yes.

Ryan: Which I appreciate them for. 

Jerry: Yeah. Yeah. You're building community and, uh , that's super important. 

Ryan: You know, we're talking about people that are making big transitions into a very new role. Like a lot of people that are listening to this, they are blue collar workers. They're teachers, they're nurses that have an established career, but they kind of exactly experiencing what you did, which they're, they want to get off their feet and they want to go sit in that air conditioned room and sit in front of that computer instead.

Ryan: What are some of the weaknesses that you see in newer people in your field? You're a people manager now and it can be something from hard skills, IT related, engineering related, or it could be something soft skills. People don't know how to communicate. Are there any tips for those that are trying to break into your industry?

Jerry: Yes. I would say a couple of things come to mind is when people come into the IT world, their expectations are not accurate. They think they're gonna come in and make $300,000 a year and, without a whole lot of experience and that's just, it's just not, it's just not gonna happen. there are, jobs out there.

Jerry: You look at the software engineering field and things like that. You do, Google and Facebook and or Meta now, whatever they are. And, , they there's definitely some jobs like that, but you are not walking outta college into those jobs. So I think expectations are not accurate.

Jerry: They come in and they think, oh, I'm gonna make a whole bunch of money and get all these bonuses and, get my Ferrari and all that sort of thing. So I think that's one. And then the other big weakness of people breaking into the business is they lack a network. So like we talked about earlier is that you having that network of people that you know and who know you that can help you get where you want to go.

Jerry: So that, that's a couple things and then particularly in the tech field, for consultants, engineers, things like that, I think you, the hard skills, the tech skills, that's the easy stuff. I mean, you can learn that all day long. Soft skills are hard to learn and when we're interviewing people, , we're looking at, less about tech skills and at least as a manager, I'm looking less at the tech skills because the tech guys are doing that analysis.

Jerry: So I'm looking at how does this person present themselves? How does this person, how do they answer questions? How do they think? How do they, can they think on their feet? Can they just have a conversation and kind of be, feel comfortable? Those are things that are hard to, you can learn them.

Jerry: Absolutely. Cuz I, did, I mean, it's not like I'm a natural being a manager, I had to learn it but, it's a harder to learn soft skills than it is those tech skills. 

Ryan: That is a very common thread for those longtime listeners listening, they're gonna be, Almost sick of it, because that is exactly what everybody says but it's so true.

Ryan: One of the things that people have said before, and I've, I agree with is that, soft skills for most jobs, this is most jobs, not really, really technical jobs, soft skills is like 80% of it and the 20%, you can learn exactly what you said. Like you can learn the vocabulary, you can learn, the jargon.

Ryan: And for a lot of people listening exact kind of exactly where you are, where you're at now, you can start in a more technical position and then transition your career from there Just because you start being an engineer or being a programmer or even a CIS admin, right? Like you're a systems administrator or you're a database or data analytics person, you can, once you get your foot in the door, you can move around and that moving around is all soft skills.

Jerry: It is, absolutely. You're absolutely right. Yeah. I mean, I was, you know, when I first came into Microsoft, first time I had to go in front of customers, I was terrified, you know, so you gotta, you gotta learn how to do that and be comfortable with it, and be comfortable with flopping, because it's gonna happen, you're gonna flop.

Jerry: So just expect it and, but that's part of just learning how to kind of manage that and overcome it and get better and better. 

Ryan: Regarding realistic expectations. I kind of wanted to drill just a little bit deeper there, because that was the first time that anybody's answered that. I think that I agree with you, but other than just salary expectations, how can people come into the IT world with real, like, what are some examples other than money, if there are any, that are realistic expectations?

Jerry: Yeah, I think, it's not that glamorous. There are some cool times being an IT guy whenever you save the day. That's awesome but there's a lot of boring, mundane work that you'll do. There's, like I said, there'll be times of excitement, putting out new products and customers praising you for it, things like that.

Jerry: But there's also the side of it, of dealing with, frustrated, angry customers. A lot of times the job is just keeping the lights on, making the system is humming along and clients are able to accomplish their work without issues. So there's definitely that component of, it's not all, it's not rockstar status, so don't come in expecting that.

Jerry: And I think that's, I think that's some of the, I'll give you an example. One of the guys that was on my team, he was brand new outta college, and, he came into Microsoft, super sharp guy, super smart, did great work with the customers, customers loved him and, uh, after about a year and a half, he just, he's like, you know what?

Jerry: I just don't think this is for me. I feel like, there's something else I want to do and he just felt called to something different and, that, that mundane day in, day out, doing a lot of the same things, I think he realized that wasn't for him and I think that you gotta think about that, you know, what is it you really want?

Jerry: Out of the job that you're looking for, what do you, what's going to gratify you and satisfy you on a deeper level than just pulling a paycheck?

Ryan: It seems with IT and this is as a layperson, it seems almost mundane, is better, bec just because that means everything's humming along. Like everything's greased and going as it should.

Ryan: Is that accurate? 

Jerry: It is, yeah. To some degree. I mean, there's always gonna be, something that's probably gonna break or something like that. Hot fix comes out and next service pack comes out or whatever, and things get broken but, I spent, uh, the four years that I spent with HP working for a D O D customer, it got boring.

Jerry: You're just, like I said, you're keeping the lights on. It's the same old Outlook, issues, the same kind of problems and so it, it would just get kind of boring. Whereas, you know, there are certain roles that you can get into, like a consulting role in Microsoft. You're probably gonna work with the two, couple customers at a time and you're rolling out new, new technology, deploying new things.

Jerry: Learning their environment, getting them set up, and then closing out that gig and then going on to the next one, which is another customer with a whole different set of problems and so things are new thing, things are fresh. And so, but if you're in an admin type of role, you're probably not gonna, you're not gonna see that as much.

Jerry: So it is gonna be more of a mundane type of I mean, it's still cool. You're, I mean, if you're a tech guy, you love being on the console. You love looking at what's going on with the server, looking at logs and trying to figure out, you know, is it broke? Is there something I need to do?

Jerry: So, I don't want to make it sound like, you're digging a ditch cuz it's nothing like that but, you know, but there is some aspect of it that, that can be mundane and for some people that's great. They're fine and happy and hey, that's cool. I'll come in, you know, eight to five, nothing's broke.

Jerry: I get to go home, be with my family but some people, they want to, they wanna stay up all night and figure things out. So it just kind of depends on kinda your personality, what you want. 

Ryan: It's not often that we get a glimpse into a bigger company like Microsoft and so one of the things that people are looking for nowadays, like 60% of people that are looking for a job, are looking for remote work right now.

Ryan: And so I was wondering, in Microsoft, in this large company, how much of it is distributed? Is your role distributed? How much of your department is distributed? If you can kind of give us like a peek behind the curtain of remote roles. 

Jerry: Precut. Lemme start with Pre covid. Pre covid. I did have customers and I would be on customer sites.

Jerry: I'd go into, like, one of my customers was here at Fort Sam, and I spent most of my time there. I'd be on site probably three days a week, a couple days a week. I would work from home it was very very flexible. Pre Covid obviously and then the consultants, engineer.

Jerry: They were all, they were there two or three days a week but going further back than that, whenever I was a field engineer, I was either on customer site somewhere or I was working from home. There's, I've never had an office to go to, since I've been at Microsoft, just because of the way it's distributed.

Jerry: Now. If I lived in Dallas at Los Colinas where we actually have a campus that, people go to frequently, my manager's there, then I would probably be in there more often but by and large in the organizations that I've been in, the consultants have been, like I said, either onsite or working remotely from home, something like that.

Jerry: When Covid hit, I mean obviously, everybody was home and we learned that, even the customers learned that, hey, we can get this done without people being on site. So, And that's what Microsoft has done. We've really got this hybrid model of, if you're in a location where there's an office, then, how many days a week can you be on site?

Jerry: Like I'm 100% remote in my current role and in my previous role as a manager, I'm a hundred percent remote, always have been because my people are distributed across. Some are in Los Colinas, some are in Charlotte, North Carolina and then there's a smattering in those areas of, people that live too far away from the office to actually, come in unless there's a special occasion.

Jerry: So it really kind of depends on the role, but what I've seen in Microsoft with services, what we call services, and now with support is pretty much everybody is remote for the most part. Unless they decide they wanna come into the office for some reason, but there's really not a need for it.

Jerry: But then there are, like, if you go up to Seattle, Redmond, there's a bigger push for people to be in the office up there because it's a different, it's a completely different kind of work environment. Different needs, different things that are, it's hard to be a, in some roles and not have that FaceTime.

Ryan: Regarding people.

Ryan: I know it's been a while since you've interviewed at Microsoft, but I'm wondering if you have interviewed other people, if you could kind of give a glimpse into the interview process for your department. Like, a lot of places nowadays are doing multi interviews. Some places are doing, like, I had a product manager from Meta.

Ryan: On a few months ago, and he went through seven interviews. Right. And I think it's very typical now even for a small startup that has no HR team, they're doing like four interviews and so wondering for those people that are thinking about, well, maybe Microsoft might be it, they definitely want to get in there.

Ryan: What does a typical interview process look like? 

Jerry: I'll take you back to the days. Whenever I was first coming into Microsoft, I had an HR interview. I had two tech interviews and then I, or on the phone tech interviews and then I had an in-person interview where I interviewed with about three people.

Jerry: So that was 1 23. 4, 5, 6, roughly about six, six interviews and then whenever I, ironically when I moved to the account manager role, I didn't have to actually interview with that one and I think it's because the customer was a customer that I had worked with for a long time, even before Microsoft.

Jerry: They're in San Antonio and they wanted some, it was local to San Antonio. So I got lucky in that regard. I didn't have to actually interview for that one and then when I moved to the, my first People manager role, I did have to interview for that one. And that was three interviews only, but that's because I'm an internal candidate.

Jerry: So if you're an internal candidate, you typically only have to interview what we call finals day. And that's usually about three, three interviews and then when I came to the, so lemme just back up a little bit. Back in July, this year, I was actually, there was a big restructure in the org that I was in.

Jerry: And my position along with 1800 others were eliminated and so I was in scramble mode for a couple of months and I managed to, land the role that I'm in right now and back in, back in, August. So I started that in August, but I did have to interview for that one as well. So I had, but I had, what did I have?

Jerry: I only had two interviews for that one. And again, that's because I'm an internal candidate, if you're an external candidate, and I've done lots of interviews, as a manager, uh, if you're an external candidate, typically you're gonna get that HR interview. So they're gonna just, sort of scope you and, is your resume and what you say really match up?

Jerry: Are you potentially a fit for the role for Microsoft, really at that level? And then you'll have, a couple of tech interviews, and then you'll get that finals day. If you make it that far, you'll have that finals day interview. And that's, typically we have two tech interviews and one at one manager interview.

Jerry: So you'll have three interviews on finals day where you have, you're interviewing with a couple of technical folks, and then with a manager. I don't analyze technical skills anymore. Like I said, I analyze soft skills and is this person a fit? Maybe not for this role. It doesn't even have to be for this role.

Jerry: One of the things that we do in Microsoft is if you apply for a role and you don't really match up to it based on your skillsets or whatever, but we think that you embody all these other area, these other, attributes of Microsoft, you'd be a good fit. You just need to learn some tech.

Jerry: Then, you know, you could potentially get hired anyways. You just may not be for that particular job. We would refer you to another manager for, Hey, we think this guy or this girl would be a good fit in your org. So they would get interviewed over there. 

Ryan: Brilliant. With that specifically when, if you don't think that they're gonna be a good fit here, but they may be a good fit there.

Ryan: Is that also for external candidates as well? Or is that just for- 

Jerry: That's external. That one I was referring to, that's external candidate. 

Ryan: No, that was external. That's amazing. 

Jerry: Yeah, we're looking for people who, you know, even if you don't fit a particular role, but you could be, a good fit for Microsoft overall.

Jerry: Maybe instead of being a field engineer or a consultant, maybe you'd be a good account manager, or maybe you'd be a good, architect or something like that. ,it just kind of depends on, how did you interview? If you interview, well then, cuz really, , when you're coming into any company you wanna make sure that you're a good fit to the team because you know you gotta work with these people.

Ryan: I wanted to ask you, just because you've been in the industry for so long and you work at a very large company right now, there's a lot of tech layoffs and hiring freezes going on, right? Like it's almost like the whole tech industry is just like coming crumbling down, it seems like. One of the biggest questions, one of the most frequently asked questions that we get right now is like, I am thinking about making this transition into tech, and it could be it data analytics, whatever it is, but I'm really concerned about all of these tech layoffs and all of these hiring freezes going on there.

Ryan: I don't know if there's like, longevity in these roles or the viability of the industry in general. I was wondering if you had an opinion on what you think the outlook for, tech and for hiring is, within the short and long-term future. 

Jerry: Yeah, it'd be, it'd be very much a pure speculation, but, I think there's definitely still jobs out there, you can, there's always gonna be jobs, there's always gonna be little companies hiring and things like that.

Jerry: So, uh what I would, my recommendation to someone that's looking to break into tech would be, if that's really what you want to do, then prepare yourself, get your certifications. This might be a good time to do some volunteer work, with, some type of an organization to kind of get some experience, create that network, that type of thing.

Jerry: Because, we're in, we're obviously we're in a downturn. Um, it's not gonna last forever. There's gonna be an upturn at some point but what I found when I was, doing my own job search a couple months ago was there's a lot of people hiring. Even though we're in a downturn there, there's still a lot of consulting companies that are still hiring.

Jerry: The big, all you see really are the really big companies. The Metas, the Googles, the Microsoft, they're the ones that really bought, you know, just really bloomed in COVID because of, , the, what was needed but those smaller companies, seems like they didn't, blow up as much as a, like meta just laid off 11,000 people.

Jerry: And part of that was because of, you know, they just, they hired all these people. We did the same thing. Microsoft did the same thing. We, we hired a whole bunch of people. and, now we're having to shed some of that but I think eventually it'll turn back, I think. Um, but yeah, the market's gonna be a little bit flooded for a while.

Jerry: I think 

Ryan: I agree with you completely. I think that right now is a perfect time for people to exactly what you said, like kind of sharpen your weapons or sharpen your skills, prepare yourself for your future roles and as you said, like smaller companies are still out there. Hiring. One of the things I was just talking to the chief economist as ZipRecruiter, and we were talking about the different industries that are seeing, you know, declines and then increases and as what the job report said, tech is experiencing decline and then all the things that were affected by covid, by shutting down are seeing increases.

Ryan: So hospitality, construction, things like things of that nature and, one of the things. I haven't spoken about on this podcast yet. I think it's good for those listeners out there is if you wanna work in tech, you don't have to work at a tech company. Like you can go and be a ServiceNow administrator, Salesforce administrator at a construction company.

Ryan: You can go to one of these burgeoning industries if the hotel laid off all of their people, but now they're hire now people are coming back to the workforce. People are starting to travel again. They're gonna need people to upkeep their Salesforce instance and so get that Salesforce admin and learn what you're doing and then go apply to roles at, in those industries.

Ryan: And then when the tech, when it comes back around and if you wanna make the transition into the, the FAANG companies into Microsoft, then you've got one to two years underneath your belt and now you can go do it. 

Jerry: Exactly. Yeah and you've had a little time to build that network.

Jerry: I have two very good friends here in San Antonio that are both in tech and they both work for a construction, ironically you said construction and they work for a construction company here in San Antonio. One's a project manager and the other was a cyber guy and they've been there for year.

Jerry: But it's just a small construction company. But yeah, it doesn't have to be the big mothership to unless that's where you wanna go and that's just a matter of preparing and making Europe pave that way. 

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. When people starting out now, we kind of touched on networking a bunch in the periphery, but we didn't get to the meat and potatoes of it.

Ryan: When building your network, When you don't have one, what is, what are some tips for people out there like they're, I'll tell you what happened for me. Like I was a college grad. I went to go work at a regional bank, hated it. I was basically a monkey with a headset and I, yeah, I, it was terrible. Did it for a year.

Ryan: I never stopped bartending, so I just quit, went full-time to bartending again, and I was just stuck and I didn't know. I knew that I wanted to get off my feet for 10 hours a shift, even though I was making good money, but I just didn't know anybody else that was doing it and a lot of people that are listening to that, that's their life story right now.

Ryan: Like a lot of people are listening to this while they're out doing their landscaping job or, they're driving to their job which they hate and they can't even figure out where do I start building a network?

Jerry: Well, my first recommendation would be to get on LinkedIn and then start getting yourself, attached to groups within LinkedIn that are in the industry that you want to go into.

Jerry: 'Cause there's just hundreds of thousands of groups out there that you can, become a part of and just, you'll begin to make connections that way. The other thing is locally, look for groups that meet in the industry we're looking to go into, like here in San Antonio, there are quite a few , groups, for various technologies that meet, before Covid it was quite a bit, not as familiar with it now and after, since we're just coming outta Covid.

Jerry: But prior to that, this, this one place that I used to frequent, they all, they had monthly, they had a monthly SharePoint forum, there and, there was always about a hundred people in that room. So, you know, find, and I'm just speaking from tech, but I'm sure any industry you look at, real estate or banking or whatever, I'm sure there's groups that you can get into in your local local area that you know, where you can go in and just start making friends.

Jerry: That's really what it comes down to. Just making contacts. I forget the name of, there's an app that I was, I had joined a long time ago. I think it's called Meetup and, you could go in and you could search for your area for different types of industries that you wanted to and just go to a meeting and, get to know people that way.

Jerry: So that, that's where I would start, is LinkedIn and then just finding those groups and just starting to build that network that way. 

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I think there's, the local aspect of that I think is very underrated and the reason why is because everybody says to get on LinkedIn, right?

Ryan: And that's great advice because everybody is on LinkedIn and right, like LinkedIn has cornered the market on white collar professional networking. Like they corner the market on it and so if you want to get a computer job, if you want to sit down in a chair in an air conditioned room, LinkedIn is where you should be in order to do it.

Ryan: But I think a lot of people discount locally, and they're just like, well, if I do it locally, then that doesn't scale, right? Like I can only network with the a hundred people that are at that event at that one time but I think that's a mistake because. At those events or at this, dinner or whatever it is that you're gonna go to at this meetup, you can have more intimate connections with these people.

Ryan: And you are, there's something to be said, be for meeting people, face-to-face, belly to belly and where you can interface and you can say, this is what I'm trying to do without all the noise. I can tell you my life story. It would like, this is a good example. You and I are just here having this conversation and I'm kind of telling you a little bit myself.

Ryan: You're telling me a little bit about yourself. And if this was a professional networking thing, I could tell you, Hey Jerry, I'm thinking about, a role at Microsoft or in tech. These are my skillsets, yada, yada, yada, and this is what I'm looking for and then you heard that in a very low noise environment, and then you can keep that in the back of your mind.

Ryan: When a role opens up, you'll reach out to me or, be, hey, just sent me an email. Like, I thought about you. 

Jerry: I think with, when you think about the local people, if there's a hundred people there, how many contacts do they have? So if you meet and have good conversations with five people and they know 10 other people in that same industry, and like you said, if y'all have a good conversation, make a connection.

Jerry: Maybe they don't have a specific role or job that they can refer you to, but maybe somebody in their network says, Hey, we're looking for X, Y, and Z, and they think of you and they're like, Hey, you might wanna check this guy out. So, there's definitely, it's just exponentially growing if you look at it from that perspective.

Jerry: So you gotta gotta think a little wider. 

Ryan: Definitely. And for those listening. We've said it multiple times on this podcast, but it's not, it's been proven that it's not your first degree connections that get you your jobs. It's actually exactly what you said. It's the people, the friends of the friends that, that get you your next job.

Ryan: The one last thing on the, local aspect of it is if you don't have a group out there, like say you wanted to say you live in a small town and you're like, you're trying to look for the tech people living in Johnsonville, wherever you're living and you don't find it, you don't know if that group exists.

Ryan: One of the best things that you could do is you could just create that group. Like you can be the head of that group. You could go to Facebook and just start a quick Facebook groups and. Just start DMing people that, be like, if you work in tech or if you wanna work in tech and you live in this area, here you go.

Ryan: And that's a great way to be a, what they call a connector, somebody that connects people to one another and that you're gonna see exponential growth of your network as well but it also forces you, it's kind of an accountability thing where it kind of forces you , you're like, every once a month we're gonna have this meetup, and then on the 15th of every month.

Ryan: And then there's, you're bound to have that day that you're just not gonna wanna do it. But you run the whole thing and you're like, man, and it's like, I guess I kind of have to go. I kind of committed to it. And so, yeah. So that's just for those people listening, it's local is definitely underrated I think.

Ryan: And I think, for networking and learning what other people do and the different possibilities out there. 

Jerry: I think you make a really good point about the smaller towns, cuz I I grew up in a real small town here in Texas and , I think if I were still living in that small town, what would, how would I do that?

Jerry: And I think what you just talked about was perfect. Just starting that group yourself. Maybe it's, maybe some of it's, virtual to get started, but there's gotta be two or three other people who have a similar mindset to you, and even if you're in a small town.

Ryan: Totally, totally and then, also you could also do like Reddit or there's a bunch of Discord groups for all those people. Those are really good places to meet like-minded people because what I found the challenges is when you're in that trudge, right? Like I started work at six I didn't get off till two in the morning. I didn't know anybody that wanted to better their life. I didn't know anybody that wanted to get out of it. Right? Everybody at, after two o'clock, the bars in Hawaii, they close at four. So we would all go to the next bar, right? Like we closed down ours, and then we would just go to the next bar and we'd beat out till four or five in the morning and then rinse, repeat, and do it again.

Ryan: And it's a vicious cycle that, like, how do I get out of it? And meeting like-minded people and getting a support group is something that has helped me. One of the things that I wanted to ask you about, and we didn't really cover it, is have you ever had like a mentor in your life?

Jerry: Oh my gosh, yes. 

Jerry: Yeah. 

Jerry: That's huge. I would highly recommend getting a mentor, not only a mentor, but a coach, a mentor is somebody that can take you because they've been there. They know what, they know how to get there, what they're going through, what you're gonna go through.

Jerry: And a coach kind of helps you, like the mentor tells you how to get there. A coach helps you kind of dig into what is it you really want to do and how do you get there? How do you see yourself getting there? So, but yeah, definitely mentor. We're big on that in Microsoft.

Jerry: Having mentors and things like that because, and I would also say that, one of the things I did not do well early in my career was plan for my career by having a mentor and by having a development plan and, I think if I had a little bit more intentionality, I would've gotten to some places sooner, than what I did.

Jerry: Everybody's on their own journey, , we, I think there's some fate involved in it, but, uh, I think that, having a more intentional focus on what you wanna do, thinking what do I wanna do in 10 years? Where do I see myself? And then just kind of backtracking from there.

Jerry: But having a mentor definitely will help that. 

Ryan: There's something to be said about that, starting at the end, and then solving the problem backwards, right? Like, that's how I prefer to solve problems. Or like, if I see somewhere, it just helps to have a goal, right? Like even if we're, even if you don't end up doing that goal, but just having some intentionality.

Ryan: So exactly what you said 10 years from now, I remember when I used to do my 10 year planning, like I did that in like high school and stuff. I thought that I would be, working in finance right now and, whatever else that I thought, I would be thinking, I thought I was gonna be a doctor or something like that.

Ryan: I never thought that I would be like sitting here talking to you for a living but if you just have a little bit of intentionality and you're okay, and you're willing to take the little offshoots of that everything's gonna, everything's gonna work out and everything's gonna be okay. 

Jerry: Yeah.

Jerry: One of the, I listened to a guy in Microsoft, he's pretty high up in the company, and he did he came to our organization and did a talk on career development and he kind of took us through how, what he did, what his story was but what really stood out to me was he said, there's three people that you need, in your career, you need a mentor, you need a coach, and you need an advocate.

Jerry: And, we talked about mentor and coach, but an advocate is somebody that can get into rooms that you can't. That can bring your name up. So let's say your advocate is a senior leader of sorts, and they're in a meeting and they're, planning for roles, they're planning for rollouts of different things.

Jerry: And you've let people know what you're, what you want to do, and that advocate's like, Hey, you know, , Joe said he, he'd be interested in doing something like that. Why don't we check him out? But that's somebody that could get your name out there. So that's one of those three people and I think that's a very cool thing to look at 

Ryan: I've never heard that before, and that makes so much sense. The advocate portion of that is so important, and I've never heard it put that way, but I'll just speak from personal experience. Having an advocate for you to speak exactly as you said on your behalf and to have your name in the back of their mind is extremely powerful.

Ryan: And the only way that you're gonna get the there though, is by doing things in public. Exactly. Kind of what you said is letting that person or a group of people know that, I am, I'm Ryan. I run the degree free podcast. I help people get the work they want without a college degree and like, unless, Now people know that and they can, whenever they have people that, that are struggling to make career transitions or, they're just like, oh, I know a guy and they'll forward them my way.

Ryan: And it's the same thing in your career. You don't have to do something as esoteric as that, but you just be like, , I'm Tina and I work in it, or I help companies, tidy up their Salesforce implementation and then when they're in the room, people are, they'll be like, oh, I know Tina can do it.

Jerry: Yeah. One of the, one of the cool stories he told in that session was that, ,he had made it known that he, what he really wanted to do with his career and he was willing to go wherever was he was needed and at the time, when there was, they were planning for some rolling out a new office or something like that overseas in Europe.

Jerry: He had said, look, I'll do that and so whenever that started happen, his name came up and, he ended up going and took his family and got to spend a few years over in Europe and, work for Microsoft and then he eventually came back to the States but, that's because he had put it out there that, he was willing to do those kind of things in order to further his career.

Ryan: Awesome. I did wanna spend a little bit of time talking about your future and about, the bit, the career transition that you're planning as far as being a coach and, a lot of people are. This podcast is about, transitions and about changing careers and for people that are in a similar position that have, a wealth of knowledge and they are very skilled at what they do and are trying to do the same thing, transition into a more of a coaching role.

Ryan: How do you see yourself doing it? How are you gonna accomplish that? 

Jerry: Yeah. So a couple years ago, I got a coach. I had somebody came into San Antonio and did a talk and, , I really liked what they said. So I had a couple of conversations with 'em and I hired them to coach me, and they coached me for about a year, and they actually helped me get to that first people manager role but what I really liked about that is that I'd had thoughts of doing coaching for a long time. I just didn't, I thought you had to have, all this expertise and I learned that's not true. So what I did is I ended up just, you. Putting the money into myself and I went to a coaching school, the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.

Jerry: So I went through their courses about a year long and, got some certifications in that and with all the networking that goes along in that, I obviously I still have my Microsoft job, and that's my bread and butter and that's where I'm focused but I just started letting people know that, I've got this coaching business and, maybe give a complimentary session and see if coaching is for them.

Jerry: And, so I've been able to grab a few clients like that. So for me, It's a matter of, I'm kind of slow rolling that I'm also, now I'm looking at, how do I get into speaking, how do I get gigs speaking in different places and learning, starting at little schools or starting at a small, uh, charity event, some, doing some free stuff and so for me it's, , luckily I have the ability and privilege to be able to just work my job as I see it and then it'll still work on. That side business, after hours and on the weekends and that kind of thing. So that, for me, that's where the transition's gonna happen and, am ramping it up a little bit now just because, the tech world is a little scary right now, I'll be honest.

Jerry: I think it's like that for everybody though, right? It's not just tech, it's all over the place but, that's where I really see myself going, in the next few years, is moving into a full-time coaching, doing some speaking and things like that. And I've got an idea for a book.

Jerry: I don't know if that'll ever come out, but, it'd be interesting. 

Ryan: For those people that are curious about coaching in general, like about hiring a coach, about what to look for in a coach. What are some tips? One, could you explain like, I've never had a coach, right? I've never hired one. I wouldn't be opposed, I wouldn't be opposed to it.

Ryan: I don't know what a coach would do .What it looks like. 

Jerry: Yeah, for sure. So just to kinda give you a few, things to think about. So a therapist is somebody that works with someone and tries to help them understand trauma, understand things about them. That's happened in the past, right?

Jerry: So that's therapy and that's also, licensing and all that sort of thing and then you've got the mentor consultant, the mentor and the consultant. The mentor is gonna help you get where you're gonna go because they've been there and they know what it's like. The consultant is somebody that's gonna come in and say they have, they already have an agenda.

Jerry: If I'm a consultant and you hire me to roll out your next technology I've already got the blueprint, I've already got how we do this, all that sort of stuff. I just come in, we overlay it into your network and whatever we're gonna do, and then we start deploying. A coach says, let's say that somebody comes out of therapy and they've dealt with all their trauma and now they wanna move forward.

Jerry: So a coach is somebody that comes in and uses, we use energy leadership within IPEC, Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and we help people, deal with these internal blockers. We call this thing the gremlin, somebody, you know, I'm just not good enough.

Jerry: I don't have enough education. I'm not pretty enough. We help people kind of overcome that and, help them realize that, why are you telling yourself that? That's an internal dialogue that you have so let's get past that. We just kind of help people, help people come up with a plan to get where they want to go next.

Jerry: I'll just give you my own example, was my coach, about once a month and he would just come in and he would just ask a whole lot of really good questions, which made me really dig in and try to understand, okay, that's what this means to me and this is how I wanna do it.

Jerry: 'Cause what I've found in coaching is that nine times outta 10 people have the answer within themselves. They just need somebody to help them get it out. And that's what coaching does. 

Ryan: That's amazing. One of the things like the best job search advice that I can give anybody, and I really mean it even though I've told people this and they're just like, this is bs, but it's confidence and that confidence stems what I found from your self-talk , and how you relate to exact what you called gremlins and I'll just speak for myself, like I'll beat myself up all day about, not being qualified for this or not being qualified for that.

Ryan: And it's literally stopped me from doing the simplest things. Like it has stopped me from hitting that apply button, right? It has stopped me from like, my boss asked me to do this extra task and it's like, I know that it's gonna take 20 hours of basically overtime.

Ryan: But I'm just like, whatever. I guess, like this is actually a real life example. Like, I I was working in banking and my counterpart called in sick and at 5 45 on a Friday night, we get off at six on Fridays. My boss came to me with a stack of paperwork, boom, do this and and I'll just like, I didn't have the confidence to just be like, whoa, that's like my counterparts work.

Ryan: I'll do it. I just can just do it on Monday. Maybe. You know what I mean? I'm, , I ended up staying there till like nine o'clock. Didn't get paid extra to do it and, but the I'll like fumble, I'll fumble interviews because I'm just not confident and so I think that's really valuable to have somebody there that can.

Ryan: Like as you said, just kind of pull it, just pull it out of you. 

Jerry: Yeah. We talk about gremlins, we talk about internal blockers, assumptions, limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs is huge. That's something that I've dealt with. A good part of my life is telling myself that, I'm not good enough.

Jerry: I can never get out of this little town I'm in and I'm gonna end up working at the gas station or 7-Eleven or whatever, and that's gonna be my life but, you know, getting outside of that is, is so important and so key, because otherwise you risk being stuck somewhere, just living a life that you didn't wanna live.

Ryan: Awesome. Jerry, I don't want to take up your whole day. I did have a couple of questions though before we go. The first one, we kind of touched on, the books for professional development, but I was wondering if you had any other books or resources to point people towards, for anything that we've talked about today, whether it's about it or becoming more technical soft skills, coaching.

Jerry: Yeah. A book that immediately jumps to mind is a book called Atomic Habits and, it's about getting 1% better. This is making small incremental changes, in your day-to-day. That, if you do that over the course of, a long period, you can really, increase your efficiency, your productivity, your output, which, results in, hopefully more money, promotions, that type of thing.

Jerry: I'm actually expecting a book today, Amplify Your Influence, and, it's written by a guy named Rene Rodriguez, and my guilty pleasure is TikTok, and so I saw him on TikTok and I was like, wow, that's a really good book. So he talks to you about how to be an influencer, and that's really I think about books that help me to be a leader if I'm not in a leadership role, because that's where real leadership comes in, is whenever you can lead an influence from not a position of authority, right?

Jerry: So Atomic Habits, that book, I would really reference any of John Maxwell's leadership books. He's got so many, the 21 Irrefutable Laws of of Leadership. That was a really good one. He's got leadership 360, which is again, goes into figuring out how to lead without being in a leadership role.

Jerry: So those are a few good ones that, that jump to mind. I've got tons of books. , I just can't think of the titles off the top of my head. 

Ryan: No worries, no worries. You know, that's so interesting what you said leading when, uh, not in a position or when not in a leadership position or when you don't have any power, basically.

Ryan: That is something that's not the first time that that sentence has come up on this podcast. And I agree with that so much, like learning. I think that can really affect, your current state at your current job. So the trajectory of your career, like crazy as you said, just kind of raising the influence that you have currently.

Jerry: Brendon Burchard's got another, another good book. I think it's, I can't think of the name of it. Look up Brendon Burchard. He's got a really good book. I read it probably two years ago. And it's a book about, uh basically just having powerful habits that help you move forward.

Jerry: So he's a good guy to, to look at from a reading perspective.

Ryan: Definitely. And I'll put links to all of that, in our show notes for everybody listening to grief Yes, I know that. Jerry, I know that you gave a little plug earlier to your LinkedIn. Anywhere else that people could go to find more about you to follow along in your career?

Ryan: Just to say hi. 

Jerry: LinkedIn is pretty much it. I mean, I'm on Facebook, but that I don't get on Facebook a whole lot. It's, and that's more about friends, family, and fun but LinkedIn is where I do most of my professional stuff and, I'll, as I kind of grow my business , I'll expect to have a presence, a little bit more, credible than what I have today.

Jerry: So , that's kinda where I'm at with it. 

Ryan: Perfect. 

Ryan: And like I said, links to everything that we talked about, guys will be in our show notes, degree free co slash podcast. Jerry, thank you so much for coming on. I really, really enjoyed our conversation. I think that a lot of people get some value out of this.

Jerry: I hope so. It was definitely a great conversation. Thank you for a lot of great questions, . 

Ryan: All right. Have we going? Bye-bye. Thank you so much for listening, everybody. Once again, if you haven't already, go to LinkedIn and connect with me. Just search Ryan Maruyama, M A R U Y A M A. You can find links to everything that we talked about at

Ryan: And last but not least, please review the podcast and share it with a friend. Until next time, guys. Aloha

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