The tech industry is rich with opportunities. As a tech grad, how do you choose what type of IT professional you’d like to be? And how can you get the right training and support to find a job that suits your skills, passions, and talent?
We spoke with Ying Ting “Victoria” Lam about her exciting journey from a new grad to a technical specialist for a multinational tech company, NetApp.
“I graduated from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and joined the IT industry as a Solution Consultant,” said Victoria. “During this time, I discovered an opportunity at NetApp to enter the vendor industry with training and support through their graduate program: S3 Academy.”
NetApp’s S3 Academy is a program that enables grads to join the industry without a high level of experience, receive training, and adopt technology in the field.
This pathway, the company’s reputation for representing the top professionals in the industry, and positive posts on LinkedIn instantly won Victoria over. She was excited to join NetApp as a Solutions Engineer in Hong Kong.
“As a grad at NetApp, you receive so much training, real-life experience, and technical knowledge and skills. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to transfer to NetApp Australia while completing my full-time Master’s degree. I joined the Solutions Specialist team earlier this year, providing technical support to our Australia and New Zealand commercial teams.”
In her new technical role as a Solutions Specialist, Victoria provides pre- and post-sale support for NetApp customers.
“My goal is to ensure our vendors, partners, and customers are happy with our solutions, and solve their issues. Day to day, I work closely with our account team to identify customer requirements and try to develop opportunities. At the same time, we build deep relationships with our customers and make ourselves their trusted advisors by providing a variety of support.”
Here’s how she’s found the NetApp graduate program so far.
What kind of training and support do grads receive?
Victoria was excited to join an industry-leading company with a strong reputation. But it was NetApp’s training, support, and culture that made the biggest difference.
“The training and opportunities I’ve received through the program gave me the confidence to speak up and represent the company. Whether you’re an experienced professional or new to the industry, everyone has the chance to perform. It’s great being part of a company with such a positive culture.”
As Victoria shares, there are always new things to learn in tech.
“In terms of hard skills, I’ve expanded my technical knowledge about how our data centers, storage, and cloud works. And I’ve developed so many soft skills too. I’ve had the chance to do lots of public speaking, including webinars, interviews, customer presentations, and social media engagement – all really valuable training experiences to succeed in pre-sales.”
And, of course, grads aren’t expected to know everything! As she’s continued to learn and grow in her role, there have been instances where she’s been unsure how to answer a customer’s question.
“If this happens, I read articles, do online research, and check NetApp’s company resources – we have plenty! Also, my colleagues are always willing to offer help when I have any questions.”
NetApp offers employees a range of professional development opportunities, including coaching programs and mentoring.
Find out how else NetApp support their employees professional development.
Can grads have an impact?
If you’re joining a grad program, it may be important for you to feel like you’re making a difference.
This was true for Victoria. She’s discovered she gains the most satisfaction when she’s able to help customers solve problems (and win deals!).
“It can take some time to gain a true understanding of a customer’s requirements. Each process varies, but successfully getting a deal makes me happy. I also enjoy educating our customers through webinars and social media. This makes me feel like I’m having an impact. The more interactions we have with our partners and customers, the more we can become their trusted partner.”
She describes her biggest achievement so far as winning two large deals in Hong Kong.
“Selling new solutions isn’t easy. But thanks to our account team, solutions architect team, and product team assisting throughout the selling cycle, we were able to overcome obstacles and successfully deploy a solution to our Hong Kong customer’s site. It made me feel really proud.”
The experience for graduates at NetApp isn’t just limited to engaging with customers and partners for technical solutions.
“I’m given plenty of opportunities to contribute to other activities, such as our marketing events and campaigns. For example, I create video content for LinkedIn on topics I’m interested in, with support from our engagement team in production. It makes working at NetApp really fun!”
What if you’re still completing studies?
If you’re joining a graduate program while still completing your studies, companies can offer you support to manage the balance.
NetApp’s S3 Academy does just that.
NetApp offered Victoria a transfer to Melbourne as a part-time Solutions Engineer, so she could continue to work and study full-time, completing her Master’s degree.
“My teammates are really supportive in allowing me to learn and work at the same time. Overall, I’m really enjoying hands-on experience with our customers and the wider public, and getting more familiar with the technology.”
NetApp offers continuous learning opportunities too.
“We’re always encouraged to get certificates and join training courses to widen our horizon. We’re supported to follow our areas of interest to further our development (such as cloud technology or A.I.). It’s been so great for my personal development.”
So, if you’re a grad getting your start in the tech industry, take it from Victoria.
“Don’t be shy. It’s completely normal not to know everything! If there’s something you’re unsure about, do some research or find the right person to ask. There are plenty of opportunities at NetApp to represent the team or company – catch them when you can to build your confidence and reputation!”