Company Culture

How this cloud software engineer used Technical.ly to find his job

Gavin Chen learned about Old City-based cloud hosting provider Linode from Technical.ly’s newsletter.

Gavin Chen.

(Courtesy photo)

In late 2020, Gavin Chen was ready for a change.

The Philly native, who had left the area to attend school at UC Santa Cruz and returned in 2019, was working on Jefferson Hospitals’ IoT team but wanted to expand his skill set in a new direction. However, he felt a bit out of touch with the local tech scene, so he turned to Technical.ly’s newsletters and reporting to help him get informed. This led him to discover Linode, where he now works as a cloud software engineer.

Based in Old City, the recently acquired cloud hosting provider Linode has used Technical.ly’s Talent Pro platform since 2017 to share information about its workplace culture and attract skilled talent. Chen researched the company through Linode’s Culture Page and reported articles on Technical.ly, and started working there in January 2021.

Recently, we chatted with him to learn more about why he felt Linode was the right fit for him and what his experience has been like so far.

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What is your current role, and what are your day-to-day tasks and responsibilities like?

I’m on the storage team, which is kind of like a backend team for clusters, so the way I usually like to describe it is we do anything that’s persistent storage. As part of any cloud infrastructure, we need something that holds onto data, i.e. object storage, when you’re just uploading a whole bunch of files, or block storage, which is essentially adding in hard drives to the computer, and then managing things like databases or anything that has persistent storage on the cloud platform. Our team essentially manages most of that stuff.

Most of our responsibilities actually range a little bit. Technically, I’m on the dev team. We have a dev team and an ops team, but day to day, we kind of do a little bit of a mixture between development and testing, and also some upkeep. We have a pretty wide range of responsibilities compared to some of the other companies that I’ve worked at.

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What was your background before joining Linode?

I was originally working for a department in Jefferson Hospitals — they had this new digital innovations lab. And then I started to look for jobs and found Linode. My original training is actually with embedded systems, so I’m a little bit more on the low level, like microprocessors and the lower hardware stuff. When I was looking for new jobs, I had seen where cloud was going, and I figured I wanted to try to make the switch. So I ended up applying to Linode and seeing what they had to offer. I really like cloud so far.

What attracted you to work at Linode?

They’re one of the biggest software companies in Philadelphia, and they’re in a really competitive space, which is cloud. They seemed like they were growing extremely fast. Just looking at some of the articles from Technical.ly and some other articles, and then their website and career page, they have a marked difference between them and the other companies I was looking at. Something about Linode’s culture and their attitude interested me. It was probably the fact that they act like they’re a relatively new company. There’s a lot of new things that they try out, and they’re not afraid to do new things or try different trends in the industry.

What was your onboarding and training experience like?

It’s a two-week-long process, if I recall correctly, and the first initial beginning is you work with our learning and development team, and they get you up to speed with all the hardware and all the tools and everything.

And then interspersed with all that it’s just a lot of trying to meet people and getting familiar with the company. We have something called your “go-to Linodian,” which is a person who is not necessarily within your team, or who you work with directly, but who has been there for a while and who you can go to as someone for conversation if you have any questions or something that you’re just wondering about how we do things with the culture at Linode.

Other than that, we have support training where every single developer has to go through two days where they sit with support. They’re essentially on the front lines, seeing the day-to-day activities of communicating with customers. Support is a pretty big portion of our company, and it’s one of the things that sets us apart, I think, from some of the other providers. I remember being struck by how much more thought and effort they put into support than some other companies. It definitely seemed like a focus rather than an afterthought. Then once those two weeks are over, you’re kind of folded into the team and work essentially begins. So I will say it was definitely a learning curve, but it was very interesting to hear all this stuff.

Why do you like Philadelphia?

I had originally lived in Philadelphia and then moved back, but I never really got to know Philly until I moved back. I really enjoy Philadelphia as a city. Right now, I’m living in Fishtown, but I’ve lived in a few areas all around the city. I’m a Philadelphian. Everything about the city — walking down the street talking to people, seeing what’s going on — I feel very at home. Philadelphia has a lot to offer, so if anyone’s interested in food in the city or is curious about it — I could go on and on about the different things that the city has.

What part did Technical.ly play in your job search?

I had originally wanted to hear more about the Philadelphia tech scene — admittedly, we’re a little bit smaller, so it’s hard to get to know a lot of the tech things unless you have some of the channels. And a lot of the time, a lot of channels are more university-related, so it’s a little bit hard for me to hear about these things. So with Technical.ly, I read some of the newsletters, and they’re actually super interesting, just to give a little view into some of the tech scene that’s in Philadelphia. And I saw a few pieces on Linode.

I was looking for a job towards the end of 2020, and knew I wanted to make a big step into a newer company that was growing and challenging. That’s what Linode seemed like to me.

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