When Tim Serewicz started teaching Linux system administration classes at IBM, his boss thought Linux was “just a fad.” Serewicz has since made a full-time career out of teaching admins the latest technologies in the ever-evolving and growing Linux ecosystem. He has taught at IBM, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Red Hat and now teaches OpenStack and Linux performance and tuning courses for Linux Foundation Training.
He aims to help his students “not only get the answers they want, but help them build the mental pathways to find the answer,” Serewicz said. “That is the skill they probably need most in the fast changing IT world.”
Here, Serewicz tells us more about how he learned Linux and system administration, his career path to becoming an instructor, his teaching philosophy and methods, and his hobby as a filmmaker.
Linux.com: What courses do you teach at the LF?
Tim Serewicz: I teach the admin line of classes, none of the developer classes.
How long have you been teaching? How long at the LF?
Serewicz: I’ve been a trainer full-time since March, 1999. I started training co-workers prior to that but it wasn’t a main job function. I started teaching training courses for The Linux Foundation about 18 months ago.
How did you get started with Linux?
Serewicz: I was an IBM trainer. When IBM bought into a couple of Linux companies I was volun-told to pick up the new Linux classes. My boss at the time thought Linux was a bit of a fad and would never take the place of AIX.
How did you learn?
Serewicz: IBM used to control Red Hat’s training department. I was part of a group of folks who were given the task of helping write and fine-tune the classes for delivery. There wasn’t a lot of documentation at the time so much was by trial and error and great co-workers.
What is your area of expertise now?
Serewicz: In the Linux space I would say OpenStack and performance and tuning. I also still teach Solaris and SPARC for Sun/Oracle, MapR and Couchbase for NoSQL.
How did you develop that? What has your career path been?
Serewicz: When the dot-com era was starting I was running a three-room training center in Denver. My boss was rather inflexible with keeping up with pay to match the industry changes. So I moved over to Sun and started teaching their OS and SPARC hardware classes. I gained a lot of experience working with them and have provided support for their infrastructure, written some course content and usually teach the new material and handle difficult customer situations.
When Sun started to shrink during the dot-bombs I looked for other opportunities. I started working with various Bay Area start ups and tried to increase my knowledge base. IBM and Red Hat split ways so I started training for them more as well. I keep in contact with folks in the Bay Area still and work with emerging technology such as big data via MapR, Hadoop, and NoSQL via Couchbase.
What projects are you involved in currently? What are you working on?
Serewicz: I am updating the OpenStack course for The Linux Foundation. That is taking pretty much all my time. After that I have some updates to make to the Performance and Tuning class. After that Couchbase is rolling out an impressive update to their product and will spend some time working on that.
What are the hot-button issues or latest trends in your area?
Serewicz: Big data, OpenStack, SDN and NoSQL. Basically the customer is shrugging off the old vendor-lock paradigm for the less polished but lower-cost open technology.
What technologies and skills do you see coming down the pike that Linux professionals should be prepared for?
Serewicz: Knowing how to program, at least shell programming, will always be in some demand. Working with open source projects is a talent by itself. Find a project you care about and spend some time contributing. You will learn a lot and be that much more valuable in a typical IT department.
How do you address these in the courses you teach?
Serewicz: Depending on the level of student, I try to encourage and mentor my students. None of it is part of the formal class, but during breaks and off-hours I like to get to know my students. I’m a trainer because I love working with and helping folks. Anything my experience can help them with I’m happy to share.
Anything else you’d like us to know about you?
Serewicz: I favor an immersive Socratic method of teaching. It requires a lot more effort from the learner but they not only get the answers they want but I help them build the mental pathways to find the answer. That is the skill they probably need most in the fast changing IT world. Other than that I’m an amateur filmmaker. I love telling a good story, no matter the medium.
Learn more about Linux Foundation Training courses and certification at http://training.linuxfoundation.org/.
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