Get networking

By Gemma Coleman. Posted

Originally published in Hello World 20: Systems and networks, Jan 2023. All information true at the time of original publishing.

Three people explain how they use networking in their jobs, and share tips for students interested in following a similar path

Providing students with context about why they are learning something is a valuable engagement tool. Here, we profile three individuals who use networking skills and knowledge in their jobs. You can use these profiles to help inspire your students when introducing the topic of networks, helping them to understand the variety of career paths they could take with a grounding in the subject.

The network engineer

Name: Jamie Lawrence

Job role: Network engineer at Arm Ltd., Cambridge, UK

What did you study and where: BSc in digital and technology solutions (network engineering) at the University of Suffolk, UK.

Describe your job and how it relates to networking:

I work in Arm’s global networks team as a network engineer. We are responsible for designing, building, maintaining, and operating Arm’s network across the world. This includes the networks within our offices, to ensure our staff can work (local area networks and campus area networks); the data centre networks that connect our storage, server, and compute systems; and the wide area network connecting our sites together using internet circuits or private circuits (using a technology called Multiprotocol Label Switching).

My role largely encompasses working on projects to design and build new systems and services for the operation of the network. At the moment, this includes implementing a new monitoring system called Cisco ThousandEyes, helping to deploy a software-defined wide area network solution, and automating our network processes using a mixture of Python and Ansible coding languages. The network is the foundation of any IT solution, so our role ensures that Arm can operate and develop our technology for our customers.

What do you enjoy about your role:

I really enjoy working with the latest Cisco equipment and systems, which means I’m continually learning new technologies and skills. I also enjoy the mixture of hands-on and desk-based work, including visiting our data centres and other offices to perform maintenance and installs. Finally, I get to work with some extremely talented engineers, which is certainly helping me on my professional journey.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in a similar career path:

If you can, get some work experience within an IT department. At age 15, I did work experience at a university’s IT department and I learnt a lot about the roles available, the processes involved in running an IT service, and the infrastructure behind it.

I would also say that customer service skills are a big part of IT: being able to communicate with a customer in non-technical language and then speaking technically with colleagues. If you’re interested in networking, I would recommend Cisco Networking Academy ( It has lots of free, short introductory courses, as well as its Packet Tracer program, where you can build and simulate networks.

The ICT engineer

Name: Stuart Ramsay

Job role:ICT engineer at Durham County Council, UK

What did you study and where:BSc (Hons) in computing at the University of Sunderland, UK.

Describe your job and how you use networking:

I work in Durham County Council’s IT department, in the section that provides managed IT services for local schools. For the past six years, I have been based in a small team in one of the country’s best state secondary schools (2000 users, 1000 devices, and 20 servers) looking after all aspects of its IT infrastructure and technical support. My prior experience in installing physical networks (including copper, fibre-optic cabling, and associated hardware) led me to progress into not only maintaining and troubleshooting the schools’ networks but being responsible for delivering larger-scale on-site infrastructure projects. This can include the configuration and installation of a completely new network with network switches, data segmentation/virtual local area networks, a replacement Wi-Fi network, web filtering, and firewall solutions. I’ve also replaced the ageing server farm with new servers based on a hypervisor cluster system and implemented both on-site- and cloud-based backups.

What do you enjoy about your role:

I really enjoy the variety of my role; no two days tend to be the same. Some days can be entirely desk-based, carrying out small administrative changes; other days can be completely hands-on with a practical requirement to ensure there is no disruption to the day.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in a similar career path:

Have a firm grasp of the fundamentals, such as the OSI model and IP networking. It’s impossible to know everything when running a network, so ask as many questions as you need. Also, take any opportunity to learn something new when you can, as you never know what doors it may open.

I would also recommend learning to work amongst people, and how to communicate effectively with others. This sort of soft skill is often overlooked in our profession. Finally, hands-on experience, vocational qualifications, and technical certifications are just as valuable for your learning and career progression as traditional degrees.

The Program manager

Name: Jaclyn Lazarus

Job role: Technology development program manager at Verizon, New Jersey, USA

What did you study and where: BS in Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA, and MS in Enterprise Project Management at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, USA.

Describe your job and how it relates to networking:

I work in Verizon’s technology and product development organisation as a program manager. In my role, I work with 5G technology to help develop products for sports and entertainment events. Last year, a couple of my major projects were working with 5G technology to bring fans up close and personal to events such as the Super Bowl Halftime Show and the Oscars, using augmented reality (AR). My job is also to verify that the 5G network at these events is optimal for streaming.

What do you enjoy about your role:

What is exciting about my job is that there is no blueprint — our team is collaborative and creative. I am able to help create products that can impact the world. I have been able to bring fans close to the action at high-profile events such as the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and The Game Awards to name a few. I also enjoy learning about new technologies and working with extremely talented people every day.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in a similar career path:

My first piece of advice is to take every opportunity you can get in school; get involved with research, clubs, and career services. Second, apply for internships as soon as possible to get professional experience. My first internship was unrelated to what I do today, but was important for getting my foot in the door and learning about how corporations operate. Finally, go with your gut! I decided to apply for Verizon even though my background was in Biomedical Engineering, which is not a traditional major for working in network engineering. I saw that Verizon offered a leadership development program and decided to go for it. Ten years later, I am still here, and still working with awesome people!


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