How this Linode dev went from construction to tech - Philly


Sep. 29, 2017 11:21 am

How this Linode dev went from construction to tech

We sat down with Jonathan “Penny” Leal for a Talent interview.

Jonathan "Penny" Leal.

(Photo by Tony Abraham)

Three and a half years ago, Jonathan “Penny” Leal was working a construction job. Now he’s a systems engineer at Linode, the Haddonfield, N.J.-based cloud hosting company moving to Philadelphia’s N3rd Street corridor this coming year.

We sat down with Leal to talk about the work he’s doing, his side projects, company culture at Linode and what the company is looking for in prospective employees.

Learn more about Linode's job openings

What’s your stack?

We’re largely a SaltStack shop, we use Jenkins for CI with Test Kitchen for development and Serverspec/Testinfra for unit testing. Logstash, Elasticsearch and Kibana for log analysis. In terms of programming languages, we largely work in Python/Perl.

What were you doing before you joined the Linode team?

I’ve been here for three and a half years. I came from a construction job and jumped into a support role. They’ve taken good care of me so far. I’ve jumped into an operations role. It’s been awesome to be empowered to make these types of moves. When you’re in construction, you do your thing and go home. Here, you’re allowed to contribute as much as you like. It’s an empowering feeling. It’s life changing.

In what ways has working at Linode been “life changing?”

We allow people to chase their passions. This culture helps cultivate that. Having that vibe around you helps you pick up the skills you want to pick up.

Early on in my tenure here I was allowed to transition to the change control board. Seeing changes implemented was the point in which I felt I found my voice. I was able to see that these things had an impact on our customer base.

One of the things I love about Linode is that we are the underdogs. We’re going up against competition with near unlimited resources. What we’re doing has an impact and it’s nice to see the community supports that.

What’s one instance in which you were able to see that impact on Linode’s community?

Plex is a streaming application that allows you to host local movies on your computer. They were coming upon some of the limitations of our platform. We had to essentially change the way the limitations work specific to Plex’s needs. Not only did I affect their business, I was able to ensure that an application I personally use continued to be reliable.


Describe your day-to-day.

Every day is different for me. I wear many different hats. I try to help mentor some of our younger admins, teach them the infrastructure, help empower them to chase their passions or realize their own potential because that’s what I felt was most important to me here. That’s not something you really see all that often. I enable other people to do what we ask them to do.

How would a prospective employee know they’d fit in at Linode, regardless of their professional background?

Any piece of tech that runs the internet, we manage. Your ability to contribute is limited solely by your ability.

I was working with Linux for a number of years. I was a Linode customer for six years. I was going to night school pushing myself to grow into a role I felt I could have an impact with. I knew I was passionate about tech, but didn’t feel I had the skill set required to jump directly into an operations role.

Customer support is an interesting space to enter. You’re exposed to every asset of our infrastructure. It’s underrated. It provided me with the guidance and strength I needed to make an impact. Don’t be scared to take a job you think is beneath you.

Are you working on any side projects outside of work?

DarkScience, an IRC network dedicated to all things tech and new home to the Hak5 IRC community. We offer “wargames” and shared hosting for the disadvantaged to take on learning systems security, administration and development with community resources.

Why should I choose to work at Linode?

We take care of people who are passionate about the things they do. I’ve worked at a lot of places where you aren’t noticed even if you do have passion for the work.

The main thing I would say is Linode is rife with opportunity just waiting to happen. If you are looking to realize your full potential and figure out what you want to do, this is the best place for you. There’s no reason to go anywhere else.

Whether you’re a customer or an employee, Linode will allow you to realize what your dreams are.

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