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I knew when I finished “reading” (thank you, Audible) Sheryl Sandberg’s heartening exhortations in Lean In that my life was about to change. I was thinking that I should go back to grad school for the changes that I wanted in my life to materialize, and so I studied for 6 weeks and took the GMAT. After all of those long hours of studying, however, I realized that that wasn’t the life that I wanted for the next 2 years. I didn’t want to have to wait in the wings for 2 more years while I could be starting a career now! And so I got frustrated and antsy.

I told you a little about how I got into technology - not a very common story. Basically, I wanted a career change (I got my start in Film - capitalized because of the self-importance) but was wracking my brain to figure out what I could both make a great contribution to and be fulfilled in. My husband finally convinced me to try technology. He gave me an interesting problem to solve, taught me the necessary skills to solve it, and I found that I had no choice but to concede; I was hooked.

I began my journey / experimentation in learning InSpec. It’s a framework written to test for security and compliance, and it was the perfect introduction for me. InSpec was written for security people who may not have a development background, and it allows you to begin simply at a basic level by writing controls but then later discover that it’s quite flexible in the ways in which you can use it. So I continued diving deeper into InSpec and learning Chef along the way.

As a part of my preparations, I wanted to immerse myself in the culture, too, so that I could learn as much as I could about the industry - where the technology is moving, what problems are waiting to be solved, and to see where I can solve problems and begin to contribute. I decided to blindly volunteer to be on the organizing team for DevOpsDays DFW thanks again, Doug Ireton, a decision that at the time I considered crazy but today I’m so grateful for.

I was later quite fortuitously invited to ChefConf by Nathen Harvey through a diversity scholarship in July and fell more in love with this dynamic DevOps culture. While there, I was graciously asked to be on the super cool Arrested DevOps podcast with Matt Straton and Trevor Hess. I had such fun talking with them and being on a panel with such great thinkers as Jon Cowie of Etsy and Fletcher Nichol of Chef. The conversation in my head went something like:

How in the hell did I get here? I don’t even have a job. Oh wait, I’ve been working my ass off to get one. Right…that’s prolly why. Eff you, imposter syndrome.

While I was there I had a conversation with Barry Crist, Chef’s CEO, and I told him about my journey and something that Sheryl Sandberg said in her book. She said that a woman will likely only apply for a job if she’s 100% qualified for a position, but a man will likely apply if he’s only 60% qualified because he knows he can just learn the rest of the 40% soon after. That was mind-blowing to me. I told Barry that I was simply going to start living by the 60% rule, and he gave me his enthusiastic blessing - topped off with a double high five.

So when I got home I got a call from 10th Magnitude, one of the most super cool cloud consultancies in the country and where the delightful aforementioned Trevor Hess works, saying that they wanted to talk. I was elated. Knowing that I was probably only 60% qualified, I figured, ‘What the heck, let’s talk.’ (After all, Barry did give me a double high five blessing.) So we talked, then we talked some more, then we talked in Dallas, then we talked in Chicago, then one thing leads to another and I’m working at 10th Magnitude as a Cloud Automation Engineer! With an art degree!

And here’s the thing, never once did I shy away from my art background, my newness to the industry, my time as a stay at home mom, anything. As you can see on my blog, I’m an open book. The diversity of my background is an asset. I am who I am because of those things not in spite of them. And the beauty of the whole thing is that 10th Magnitude’s leadership (shout-out Alex Brown and Jacob Saunders) appreciates and embraces that, and that is one reason that they are one of the leading cloud consultancies in the country. They hire for the mind not the resume.

I’m happy to be called a 10th Magnitude Cloud Automation Engineer and still can’t believe this whole crazy story. Thank you, 10th Magnitude, for taking a chance on me. I can promise you that it will pay off.

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Annie Hedgpeth


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Annie Hedgpeth

DevOps Engineer committed to growth and community

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