Cloudflare TV

The first steps of an Associate Solutions Engineer

Presented by Daniela Rodrigues, Vladlena Sebastião, Hilal Tuğba Uysal
Originally aired on 

Join Vlada and Hilal as they talk about their experience joining Cloudflare and the Solutions Engineering Graduate Program. Moving countries, having a non-technical background, deep diving into Cloudflare's products - they've done it all!

If you are interested in joining the next edition of the Solutions Engineering program, please apply here for Arabic, Russian or Hebrew language speakers, and here for Spanish, German, French or Italian language speakers.


Transcript (Beta)

Hi everyone. Welcome. I'm super happy and excited to be here with you today. My name is Dani.

I am part of the recruiting team at Cloudflare. I specialize in university programs and I am very happy to have these two ladies with me today.

So I would like for them to introduce themselves as well a little bit.

Shall we start with Vlada? Hi. Hi I'm Vlada.

I'm part of the ASC team based in Lisbon. I'm really happy to be here to talk about this program.

I've learned so much so far and I've experienced so much.

I hope that this can be enlightening. All right.

Thank you so much. How about you Hilal? Hello. Thank you for your time today Dani first of all.

And I'm Hilal. I'm one of the ASCs based in Lisbon at Cloudflare.

And I moved here in Lisbon like almost five months ago from Turkey to join this graduate program.

And yeah so far so good. Great. Thank you so much for introducing yourselves.

It's lovely to have you here in Lisbon which I I think it's a beautiful city.

I may be biased because I am based here born and raised but I do think it's a beautiful city.

I hope you're enjoying it Hilal but we'll we'll definitely chat more about that in a minute.

So of course I would love to hear all about what an ASC is or what it stands for.

So it is associate solutions engineer right?

Yes. Yeah ASC stands for associate solutions engineer. But what I would like to highlight here is like it is not about the title.

It's about the program that we join as a new like graduates.

Great. Great. And as graduates you can imagine we don't have like a lot of experience.

So what we really are our solutions engineers in training right as associates.

And this program really gives us the time and the opportunities to learn about the services you know the products that Cloudflare offers but then also complete a lot of like important technical training which due to our very diverse IT backgrounds can be very necessary.

I can imagine. Oh my goodness.

It must be like a whole new world to come into this even if you have a background in tech and then having to learn all the products and all the terms and technicalities it must be really challenging and time consuming.

Right. Yes.

Yes. But you know as long as you're curious and you know and you know how to manage your time of course anything anything is achievable.

So thank you so much for sharing.

That's really cool to hear that you have the time and place to expand on your knowledge and skills.

I was wondering what is the solutions engineer or what are you training to do in practice.

So we're learning how to be customer facing engineers.

Right. So we take the time during this graduate program to practice our communication skills our presentation skills.

Right. And obviously learn about the technology you know so that we can contribute I guess to to the company further down the line.

Right. Most people will come into a role like this a solutions engineer or a sales engineer with maybe some previous experience usually in sales of course.

But sometimes sometimes you need to build upon that a little bit in order to in order to be a great sales engineer right in order to be a good solutions engineer to be able to connect with our with our customers and of course with our colleagues.

Yeah because we are like solutions engineer here. Right.

I always love to imagine it like that. We are the bridge between the customers and the like deep dive technical teams in the company.

So it's always good hearing about customers like problem requests and being able to like build upon this request and you know having maybe new perspective for the you know engineers technical teams.

Great. Thank you so much for sharing. That's really interesting because I was going to ask you why is solutions engineering so important for Cloudflare.

But I think I get a little bit of the picture now. So you're essentially storytellers and you hear what the customers say and you try and you know tell them a story of how you can fix you know their problems or the issues that they have with technology by suggesting new products or ways that we can work together to their ends.

And if there were no solutions engineers then I think you know the customers wouldn't be as well prepared and they also wouldn't know very well what to do because you come up with all of the solutions that they need.

Yeah we use we use what we have at our disposal.

Yes with Cloudflare and we try to let's say architect a solution that can fit customers.

And the thing about Cloudflare is that all of our technology is very how do you say it can be integrated with other technologies with so clients will come customers will come with maybe an infrastructure that already exists and then we help transition into something that can be improved.

Yes. We help improve upon those infrastructures. Sounds great.

Thank you so much for sharing both of you that was that was great to hear.

So I have another question about being an ASE or being part of the solutions engineering team.

So of course you know you talked about how you are learning a lot and have a lot of space and time to learn.

But I would like to understand how you structure your days more or less especially because you know Cloudflare being a hybrid and flexible team when it comes to schedules.

I would like to hear more about what each of you is doing currently.

Actually during the graduate program our main purpose was like improve our technical skill and the soft skills together.

But what we were learning mostly about you know IT and networking cyber security security solutions and to get at the end like to get familiar with the product portfolio Cloudflare for sure.

So for a lot of us well for all three of us because there's three of us right now there was a lot of independent learning right especially for me for example.

So and Cloudflare offers many educational resources so it wasn't difficult to be directed to the right place you know to find information that we needed or learn about a technology that maybe we weren't familiar with right.

But especially for us we had a lot of hands-on support from SEs solutions engineers who were more experienced or had more time in the field or have very particular knowledge in some kind of technology and we were able to do like deep dives into the technologies that are behind the Cloudflare portfolio right.

We had we had a lot of support of course when it comes to prioritizing our you know furthering our education and technology etc and also you know in how to work with our schedule and understand you know what are the skills that we actually have to improve upon.

So it was also a lot of understanding where it is that we ourselves are not the best at and kind of jumping headfirst into learning those skills you know with with some help of course.

So you know towards the end I think I think it's been for me I started in August.

Towards the end we we had learned so so much that we were even ready to do some more like practical and like on -the-job training assist other experienced engineers maybe help take away you know their workload you know even do deep presentations.

It was it's been very good. Thank you so much for sharing.

I love what you just shared both of you. It's it's really great to hear that you've been learning a lot and of course you know with Cloudflare I do think and this I think applies to all departments here of all teams.

We do have a very open perspective on knowledge sharing and we do think that and we do support that you know folks from different departments can come can come together to learn more about a certain thing or share what they know which I find great.

And you just touched upon that and I thought it was super interesting like there's no need to be shy or you know sometimes we even fear like bothering others with our questions that we think are silly but there's no silly questions and everyone's really happy to help.

So I'm glad that you've had this experience as well here at Cloudflare.

So I wanted to ask you as well so of course you've started a few months back.

You have some experience now. You're still working your way through everything.

I'm sure there's a lot that you have to learn but so far what is the thing that has surprised you the most as an ASC at Cloudflare?

For me it would have to be the sheer amount of information that I have learned in such a short period of time.

The learning curve you know I look back on these like few months you know and I'm amazed at how elastic my mind has been if I'm on it.

You know I've been able to solidify my soft skills of course like in sales and communication presentation skills and because I didn't have a technical background before I used all of those resources I mentioned, educational resources especially, that Cloudflare has to gain those technical skills that I needed you know.

Mostly the same for me as well but also the most surprising for me was I think how like we just talked about it but how like helpful and how like inclusive were my colleagues were for us to like you know kind of get used to our new environment.

So yeah I'm extremely grateful for those helps and I think the thing that I found the most interesting here, happiness, success maybe and fulfillment are not seen like the just the individual thing here.

So I think everyone is willing to like putting the best effort that they can put and contributing to community, creating the best environment eventually.

Oh that's so great to hear. Thank you so much for sharing.

That's really nice. I have to say that I do relate with the learning curve.

Of course being part of the recruiting team on one hand we don't need to be technical but then again working at Cloudflare you do need to know your stuff and all the products and technologies and so even in the onboarding class I felt like I had so much to learn.

Some things you know are just you need to to read them once and once more to really understand what you're seeing but it's once again it's great that we have such a great team and folks who are very happy to just stop what they're doing and help you understand if you ask.

So I do relate with the sheer amount of information that you have to get so I can only imagine what you both have been through and yeah the team like you shared I mean the environment is absolutely great.

I do agree. I do think we have a great team here in Lisbon specifically although the team is great everywhere but where we are working right now I do think that we are very close and support each other a lot and so I think that's also in part thanks to you for joining and for making this a great place to work at so thank you so much for that.

All right so now that we've gone over what you do and why you know what surprised you the most and what your experience has been like I would like to ask you both you know knowing what you know now what advice would you give to someone who is interested in trying for this program?

Oh I would say like go for it apply for it you will never be disappointed and I think recommend reading Cloudflare blog pages because I am confident to say that like those pages like can be beneficial for anyone and yeah I think so far that's all.

Those blog pages are very important especially during the interview process just a you know caveat in there but for me it was the biggest advice I can give is to be confident in yourself and be very curious you know be really lean into that need to learn new things that curiosity that hunger for information because it's out there and in our team there are especially here in Lisbon there are so many people willing to share their knowledge with you you know so many people that will take the time out of their day to show you something new you know so that you have the tools necessary to be able to support the team in the future right so be very so be very hungry for information but also I just want to reiterate you know that Cloudflare really does see the value in a very diverse team so even during the recruitment process with you Dani it was very evident that no matter what maybe my limitations were in one regard you still saw value in maybe another skill that I had gained over time or over experience and so maybe you won't be on the same footing when you begin with your colleagues but you will still be valued and the guidance and the potential that that you will see at Cloudflare is limitless so definitely just like just like you all said like apply and like go for it it's like you won't regret it thank you so much for sharing that's that's that's great you two I do I do think people should just apply you know if they see an opportunity they should take it being confident of course and one thing that rings very true even if you don't check all of the boxes I know there are some folks who only apply if you know if they know that they for sure have all of the necessary skills and knowledge but even if that's not the case you'll never know if you don't try so you should definitely do that for yourself if not for anyone else so so do it you'll never know what happens and we do have a great team here here in Lisbon the solutions engineering team I know is very hands-on and very very available to help and and I do think that we do have a great career path here for for solutions engineers we can talk about that a little bit afterwards but you know there are so many things that you can grow into and that you can like and do here at Cloudflare like Vlada said it's it's pretty much limitless so thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on on what people should do I do agree with everything you said and yes I mean I did recruit you and I am always available to answer any questions anyone may have so I'm just putting it out there in case it brings for anyone but yeah thank you so much thank you so much for sharing I would like now that we've gone over everything in general I would like to ask Hilal about your experience because obviously you know you had to move a few countries over to to start working here in Cloudflare in Lisbon so maybe let's start from the beginning what motivated you to apply to the ASU program I can say that I was always like dreaming about working in a like multicultural global diverse company it was like my dream but I really like impressed by the Cloudflare pages Cloudflare blog pages because I realized that how much those people in Cloudflare before back then like were able to like contribute to community and reach out anyone online with those like awesome blog pages and they were using like easy to understand like language even for you know people without like having IT background and I recall that there was this blog page about when like a big tech company was down and they were explore and they were like explaining what was the scenario behind this incident and I sent I like immediately sent this blog page link to my other like friends and they were like able to understand I mean they didn't have IT background before and they were able to like understand and like appreciate the work being done by Cloudflare to you know tell others tell people the stories about you know big incidents and everything how Internet works so yeah this was mainly about it but also I I want to mention that one of my friends was like a fan of Cloudflare and when he saw first AAC role opening in LinkedIn he immediately sent me the link of the role opening and like kind of encouraged me to apply for it and of course thanks to my family's support and these encouragements I went for it and it's worked well I'm so happy.

It did work well and we're glad to have you here um it's it's interesting in your previous answer and now as well you mentioned the blog the Cloudflare blog and I do have to say like it is rich in information and one thing that Cloudflare is great at like you just explained is that you know it explains everything that happens and it goes uh it does deep dives and and explains in a in a pretty simple way in comparison to how it actually is so everyone can understand why a certain website went down what's behind that what caused it and even when Cloudflare does something wrong I just remember this but when something happens at Cloudflare like an incident we're not perfect so everyone makes mistakes and we do too as a company um but there's always a blog post explaining in detail and being honest and clear with clarity about what happened and I do think that uh is uh is a great uh thing to have in a company being transparent and honest um but yes thank you so much for sharing it it must be must have been you know exciting but also a little bit frightening I can imagine moving to Lisbon uh but how did you feel how was it for you um I would say like I tend to be optimistic for anything uh in my life but of course I was worried about like taking the risk of like you know moving uh across the continents and like you know being if I'm being able to like um get used to my new environment and uh if I'm gonna be liking it or not so yeah I thought about these um possibilities but I'm so like glad and proud of myself that I didn't let my concerns like um become you know some obstacle for my obstacles for my future and yeah I'm grateful that what I have made um which I mean I have made my decision uh for the best for my future and career yes exactly it is you were very brave I'm sure I mean uh it is frightening but I mean I'm sure not everyone could have done what you did and I'm glad that you're enjoying the experience and that it's working well for you um because I know that I am glad to have you here in the team as well so overall it's a win-win situation it seems like um but did you have any concerns at all you know uh about about this um or you know were they all mitigated once you arrived and you saw the team and the office and the city and uh yeah for sure I mean bureaucracy and the whole moving process is not easy and like quick thing to have and but I would say that um as being expat in Lisbon like um the city has like many opportunities for like expats and it's like it has like vibrant neighborhoods awesome culture and dishes like awesome delicious foods and safe environment for sure and uh yeah I'm I mean I had those concerns and even though the whole process wasn't like you know in a day click uh I I'm so happy that my process went almost smoothly and you know as easy as it could be great it's lovely to hear the city has a lot to offer I'm sure so uh I think you'll have a lot to explore uh in the coming years if you decide to stay around uh but thank you so much for sharing I have just one last question for you um what has been the most fun thing that you can think of about moving to and living in Lisbon?

Okay because I moved in Lisbon like I was able to meet many new people like with different backgrounds and cultures so it was mainly like so fun thing about it and also I was able to you know travel around Portugal and I got to see some like awesome cities like Monsanto, Castelo Branco and Sintra um like Tomar and I still remember how insanely like beautiful was the sunset color you know color of sunset in Monsanto and yeah I'm amazed by the culture here everyone is welcoming everyone is like able to like connect with you um yeah meeting new people and exploring around was the most fun thing for me so far.

Thank you so much for sharing Hilal it's great that you're having fun and that you're having a good experience so far I hope it remains like that for the whole of your stay in Lisbon um but yes thank you so much that's that was great to hear I feel very happy for you um okay now on to Vlada I have some questions for you as well uh because you had a different story than Hilal's so I would like to ask you what motivated you to apply to the ASE program?

So I was going to school here in Lisbon right um my education is in mining and geology um I actually study like in the center of Lisbon it's very close to where our office is now but I'd always been interested in IT and networking um because coming from Angola uh being able to establish those connections with people near and far was always very important being able to bring people closer together and establish lines of communication was always very important um I'd always thought of it from a structural standpoint I guess um but tech the technology was always very um was very uh interesting to me also so when I applied to this position um the thing that stood out to me the most was that Cloudflare was open to people from different technical backgrounds and so I was um I was very sure that I would receive the the support that I needed and I was very also impressed that Cloudflare was willing to invest in people with uh with backgrounds like my own that was very important Thank you for sharing um I I do remember when I joined I read a few blog posts as well and somewhere there was a text about how we even had like a swimmer musician you know folks with different careers in different paths in life who eventually joined Cloudflare to do one thing or another so um it's it's it continues to amaze me I do think that's a good thing I I fully support that because we shouldn't let a decision that we make when we're 18 or however old we are you know define the rest of our lives if we don't want it to um so I fully support you know getting folks from different paths of life especially because we all have different skills uh no two people will have the exact same skill set and that's good because we can learn from each other and improve and I think that's a key point and I'm glad that it resonated with you um and and you know and then you felt supported uh applying and then joining the the program because that's exactly the point so I'm glad it worked well for for you um and of course you know Cloudflare we are based in Lisbon but it would be a lie to say that we only work with people who are based in Lisbon or companies who are based in Lisbon because Cloudflare is actually a very global company just because of the nature of the work that we do and the clients that we have so I would like to ask you more about what is it like to work with a global team and a global customer base?

Global customer base is so interesting um because I see customers from all over the world people who speak very different languages and sometimes even we have um we have clientele who for example don't speak English and so having the opportunity to be able to follow those customers and their journeys and learning from them is just is wonderful I honestly never even thought that would be a possibility for me so I'm very thankful for that um but more than anything a global team it means a very global perspective right and being someone who is dislocated from my own home country I'm from Angola um I've always looked for opportunities to be in very um diverse work environments.

Great thank you so much to both of you for sharing for spending this time with us it was super insightful I'm sure that you know if there was anyone who was wondering whether they should apply or not I'm sure that their answers have already been delivered and that uh they will be applying soon so uh once again thank you so much is there anything you'd like to share before we go like any last bit of advice or you know any thoughts?

I'd say um in my case maybe don't be intimidated by by the process you know of of um maybe the interview process or the information that um that is shared with you um and how difficult it may seem to apply or prepare for those for those steps um because really they were all very good opportunities to get to know the company get to know yourself you know and how you how the information or how um how the company will resonate with you um and even even it can help you expose some of the skills that you didn't know that you had and find a way to re-leverage them so don't be intimidated by the process you know trust in the process that's that's some advice that I would say is very important.

Yeah I will say that just just try because you wouldn't know without trying it try and see.

Wise words wise words thank you once again so much uh and if you have any questions about the graduate program feel free to email careers at and we'll be sure to get back to you otherwise keep an eye out on our careers page so you can see all of the opportunities.

Thank you so much Vlada and Hilal for joining once again and I hope you all have a great day.