The path of a presale engineer, or Internship that changed life

    It was 2014, the dollar was worth 35 rubles, I was graduating from college. I chose a rare specialty for a girl - information security. The last session was approaching, it was necessary to prepare for state exams. Between couples, I worked part time as a laboratory assistant at the department, and even signed up as a volunteer for the Sochi Olympics. There was no time to be bored, when suddenly I came across an announcement about an internship in a specialty - Jet Infosystems needed a presale information security engineer. Having decided that such an opportunity should not be missed, I threw myself another challenge. She responded to the vacancy, completed the test task, passed an interview - and continued to conquer the world of information security already in practice.

    Today, after 5 years, I want to share what it feels like to be an intern and what happens after. Everything was on my way: the first serene days were followed by experiences, mistakes, tears, burnout, overcoming myself and getting on the board of honor. But first things first.



    How I decided to go to information security


    Most of my classmates after school wanted to become lawyers or economists. I wanted something more interesting. Once, one of my acquaintances — we went to basketball together — advised Simon Singh's book, “The Book of Ciphers.” The Secret History of Ciphers and their Decryption. ” Then I read no more than 40 pages, as higher mathematics began, but the story was so exciting, there was so much romance in all of this that I wanted to study this particular subject area. So I entered the university as an information security specialist.

    Of course, after graduation, I read the book;)

    A fragment of the book by S. Singh “Book of ciphers. The Secret History of Ciphers and their Decryption ”

    During my studies, like many of my classmates, I had little idea who the information security specialist was and what he should do in life. Sometimes she even doubted whether I could ever work in my specialty. At the university, we were often scared that without suitable work experience they won’t take anywhere. Sometimes it seemed that it would be so - practically in every vacancy it was required to know all regulatory documents, all network technologies and even specific solutions. However, there were other teachers who called for “turning on” the mind and not succumb to panic - recruiters are also mistaken, they explained.

    The topic of my diploma was information security in the cloud. Since the university did not talk about commercial products, and in the third chapter it was necessary to write about practical application, in search of information I went to the profile exhibition InfoSecurity. There I first learned about Jet Infosystems. At the company’s booth, I was told about existing approaches and developments in the field of cloud computing protection and presented to a corporate magazine in which I found a useful article about the virtualization environment. My diploma will later become one of the reasons why I will be accepted for an internship.

    Higher education is when basic knowledge is given to you, and you just become a normal person. To get a good job, this will not be enough - it will require applied knowledge. Realizing this, I went to courses. First I mastered the basics of SAP ERP, and then I was invited to learn a new SAP HANA solution at that time. Here, my picture began to take shape of how business processes in large companies work. In the courses I met the guys who worked at Jet Infosystems and did their first project with SAP HANA. It was they who told me that there is such a position as a “presale engineer” - at the junction of hard and soft skills, and it is the best suited for the start. Since I was studying at a humanitarian university, and the technology was not given to us very much, it really hooked me.

    Internship: acquaintance, immersion, first tests


    My sister is an HR manager, so I know that internships are different: when you pay, when you pay and are free. I myself went through several internships in which they simply told me about the company and its approaches to work. It didn’t go beyond this.

    From the Jet Infosystem, everything was different. When I responded to the vacancy, they gave me the task: I had to offer a minimal set of protective equipment for a specific customer site. In fact, it was a check whether the candidate knew at least somehow the information security market. Since at that moment I was preparing with all my might for state exams, it was not difficult for me to answer questions. Then there were two personal meetings at which I had to justify the solution to the problem, find out what was the responsibility of the presale engineer, and go through some severe blitz polls from an hr specialist. I remember, in the end, I was asked to ask questions, and since the time was student, hungry, I asked: how is it in the company with the canteens? The answer about a large number of cafes and dining rooms, where you could even buy tea for 3 rubles and muffins for 15, I was very impressed then.

    As a result, out of more than 150 candidates, 4 trainees passed the selection, including me. We were joined by 2 novice presale engineers who got into the company shortly before us, and several "old men" who wanted to refresh their knowledge. We developed a program especially for us, the day was scheduled, which in itself was already very cool. It was assumed that each of the three topics - protection of the virtualization environment, the center for monitoring information security incidents (SOC) and basic security tools (firewalls, antiviruses, etc.) - will be closed by 2 presale engineers.

    How was our ordinary day? The company's specialists, whether it was a design engineer, implementation engineer or head of the department, gave us lectures. During the breaks, we watched instructional videos: basically there were basic things about what subsystems of information security exist and what solutions they can be implemented. At some point, they told us what the presale engineer work cycle consists of: we heard a lot of abbreviations that usually put a new person in a company into a stupor. In addition, it was difficult to remember who sits where, because our office was big enough - open space. Therefore, we carried with us a notebook in which we wrote down everything that needed to be remembered. Since then, we've gotten used to the joke “I go with a notebook”.


    Notepad van lav

    Later we began to give light applications, which we carried out under the control of presale engineers. The first application, of course, seemed to me the most difficult: it was necessary to prepare a description of Cisco support in Russian. The documentation is only in English, and finding it is not easy - to do this, you had to register on the partner portal of the vendor. Not every educational institution can boast of access to such resources, but we had it, which, of course, impressed me very much. Then we began to make more complex applications, for example, to carry out a budgetary assessment of the project, which already implied some kind of financial responsibility. At some point - this is a very difficult line - there came a period when we began to work on our own, in full force. It is clear that we had coordinators, but nonetheless, it meant a lot.


    The first summer corporate

    event Once, a colleague who supervised my work, flatly refused to close my application. I had KPIs, the deadlines were burning, but he was adamant. I remember, then he gave me advice, which then greatly influenced my vision of what the technical and commercial proposal should be: "Look at the result through the eyes of another person." In general, he often shared valuable advice. Here is one of my favorites. "How to solve 50% of problems at work: be aware of the problem, understand what are the solutions and do something." This advice made me think first, look for options on all possible portals, offer my own solution, and only then go with the question. I recommend it to everyone: print and hang before your eyes - it works.

    After about three months, the internship ended, and I was offered to stay with the company - already in the role of a full-fledged presale engineer.

    Who is a presale engineer
    A presale engineer is “the same guy” (or girl) who communicates with the customer’s representatives, identifies and formalizes the requirements for the project in such a magical way that, on the one hand, they are understood and agreed by the customer, and on the other, so that they don’t caused a heart attack in the rest of the production (design engineer, implementation engineer, project manager and others).

    You can’t just take and buy an information security solution, you need to consider IT infrastructure. Assessing how it will be implemented and how much it will cost is one of the main tasks of the presale engineer.

    The answer to the question of who such a presale engineer is actually worthy of a separate story. We argued with colleagues that if this post gains more than 35,000 views, then there should be such a post.

    The internship is over, but I stayed: adaptation, errors, burnout


    Together with the post, I received a much greater level of responsibility and new tasks. In addition to applications that have already become familiar, now I was optimizing my own work. I created templates for technical and commercial proposals, studied the topics more deeply, on which I had some gaps, and so on. Usually I spent 1.5-2 hours every morning on self-development. And that was damn great.

    Of course, at first it was not easy. Sometimes you feel uncomfortable when you need to call the hairdresser and sign up for a haircut. And here for the first time I had to call the customer - the director of the company - in a remote city in splendid isolation, without an engineer! Not without fear of a blank slate when sending first letters. I was lucky with a mentor - he helped to cope with difficulties, and with practice it was no longer as scary as it was at first.


    Outdoor work

    For the first 2-3 years, I did not believe in burnout, but then it happened. I worked with the topic of solutions, according to which I had to do the same calculations several times. Of course, I tried, but when you cook in the same thing, and no attempts to change anything help, the fire in your eyes somehow goes out. It so happened that at that moment my boss changed. The new leader quickly realized why I was depressed, and they began to give me other topics. Seeing other subsystems, it became much easier for me to navigate in the calculations, and this helped a lot. Somehow I was given the task of conducting a budget assessment for a project on L2 encryption between data centers. The lack of Russian solutions was not an obstacle for me - I wrote directly to a foreign vendor in English, and then his representatives came up to me at the exhibition and offered partnership. It also happened.


    Burning eyes - 73.5% success

    New - well forgotten old


    In April last year, I moved to another department for a new position - a design engineer. This whole year, in fact, became a memory of myself, the one I came to the company 5 years ago. I again experienced the same emotions as at the beginning of the journey. Again, I was scared to approach people with questions, although we have long had a warm relationship. Without the usual templates, without their own developments, once again I had to study affiliate portals. Trips to customer sites, weekly status meetings on projects - to some extent it was an unusual experience, but I already went through all this.

    Who is a design engineer
    A design engineer is one who helps the architect to work out the architecture of the presale engineer, and then implements the idea: documents and tells the implementation engineers how it should be and, if necessary, participates in the implementation.

    One evening, my colleagues and I sat in a bar next to work and celebrated my birthday. Friends gave me a certificate for a domain name, and we joked what can be done about it. Since I am a fan of my work, I could not offer anything else but a blog about presale. At that moment, a joke was born about "this Valkin blog." Colleagues joked for a while, and then I took and created a Telegram channel. At first it was a lot for myself, and then colleagues from the old department began to add to it, and this also became for them. Sometimes words of gratitude appear there - to those who once supported me, and whom I want to support now.


    Post from the Telegram channel

    Checklist: life hacks for the "green" from experienced


    From experience, I’ll say the following: during the internship, you try to figure out what you are dealing with, you make mistakes the next six months and adapt after a year. Then at some moments you can be depressed, but this is natural - you just need to figure out the reasons and move on. Here I have gathered some tips for those who are just at the beginning of the journey.

    • When looking for an internship / job in your specialty, don't be afraid to show unpaid experience. Certificates will not be redundant either. The main thing is that this is appropriate for the selected position. It is unlikely that anyone will be interested in your experience in breeding flowers, but English courses will come in handy - so you will confirm your knowledge of a foreign language.
    • Do not wait when you are called for an interesting internship, and do not limit yourself to hh.ru. Look for information on the sites of large companies. For example, now there is a set of interns and we have: job.jet.su/edu
    • When you are told something new at the internship, do not just listen, but let it through you, organize and apply it in practice.
    • Do not be afraid to ask questions, but do not go too far. If you spend more than 50 minutes at a time your mentor or leader, then you distract him from more global tasks. Do not cross this line.
    • Try to be helpful. Do not think that your work is limited to strictly defined frames. Do a little more than they ask.
    • Remember that any adaptation lasts at least six months. Do not rush to leave immediately after the internship.

    Valentina Starostina, Design Engineer, Information Security Center, Jet Infosystems

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