Nick Wilkinson’s journey to the cutting-edge of cloud computing began in a smelly seafood factory in Nelson, New Zealand.

“I didn’t finish my last year of school,” says Nick, who joined Datacom in November.

Unsure of what he wanted to do with his life, he took a job cleaning and calibrating the scales used to weigh fish from the fishing vessels in Nelson.

“It was labour-intensive, dirty, and smelly. There really wasn’t much joy in it,” remembers Nick.

For two years, Nick worked in the seafood factory. While he cleaned the scales, his future weighed on his mind. He started speaking to software developers at the company to find out more about a career in technology.

“It was those conversations that convinced me to go and study."

Without the qualifications to take a degree course, he opted for a Certificate in IT and Support at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT). The practical nature of the course was perfect for Nick.

Wide-shot of Nick Wilkinson standing in the middle of a walkway

A passion for learning

The fast-paced year of study cemented two traits in Nick that have defined his career.

“I did a lot of learning outside of the coursework, tinkering with pint-sized Raspberry Pi computers in my spare time, learning to programme them, and experimenting with them as network control devices.

"I also learnt how to handle being outside of my comfort zone. I was a huge introvert, yet there were times where I had to present to my classmates and tutors. The course helped me to break out of my shell."

Nick was fast-tracked onto NMIT's Bachelor of Information Technology degree, opting to major in network infrastructure.

Those three years of study saw him develop his interest in cloud platform technologies, continue his after-hours learning, and hone his communication skills. As part of the course, Nick had to keep a blog, writing about what he’d learnt.

“You can’t write a blog post about something technical unless you understand it,” says Nick.

In the third year of his degree, Nick opted to take an internship, hungry as ever for practical experience.

“My partner was working as a physiotherapist in Wellington and she mentioned to me a customer who worked in IT.”

That chance encounter led to Nick becoming the first intern at a Wellington-based hosting and cloud specialist where he split his time between working on projects with the cloud and data centre teams.

“Before long, I was contributing to projects and working with customers. I was pretty much hooked from that point on.”

He started a YouTube explainer series, TechDox, which is still going strong today, outlining what he has learnt. Nick’s passion for his work and his ability to communicate with others saw him named as one of the top young talents to emerge in New Zealand as part of Reseller News' 2020 Top 30 Under 30 Tech Awards.

King of the clouds

A desire to get his teeth into larger projects and to gain experiences across the major cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, is what led him to Datacom.

“I jumped into the deep end and production-ready work from the get-go. Immediately, I was working on a Google Cloud project. It was exactly what I wanted,” says Nick.

The project required knowledge of Terraform, the open-source infrastructure as a code software tool. Nick put up his hand to learn it and became a certified Terraform Associate.

"Self-learning is still huge for me. Datacom is a company that encourages proactive learning and upskilling. They find you projects to test yourself with your new skills.”

As well as developing his skills across the cloud platforms, Nick also hopes to pursue his passion for teaching and mentoring others. He is contributing to a series of ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions for Datacom colleagues.

“My initial education wasn’t great coming out of secondary school. But my passion to learn and become a good communicator helped me find and embrace opportunities.

“At Datacom, those things have helped me to go exactly where I want to go in my career. It doesn’t feel like a nine-to-five job to me.”

Datacom is hiring for a range of roles. To find out how you can make the most of a career in technology with Datacom, see our latest roles.

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