IT Career Guide

A day in a life of a system engineer

A Day in a Life of a System Engineer: Parent Edition (featuring our Lead Infrastructure Engineer, Santiago)

One of the many perks you can enjoy when working as system engineer nowadays is the luxury of working from the comforts of your home, be it 100% remote or on a hybrid setup. However, as exciting as the benefits are for most–think less commute time and food expenses to name some–this can be a bit challenging for parents who are still raising kids. Both your work and your kids demand different times and attention after all.

That’s not the case for Santiago Rivera, Yellow Tail Tech’s Lead Infrastructure Engineer, Instructor, and a Father of three, because he has already learned to get the best of both these worlds. “It’s not perfect,” as he puts it, “there will always be things that you’ll want to change, but I fully enjoy it.”

His children are Emily, Juan, and Diego. Emily, the eldest, is a 17-year-old who already lives on her own in New York. Juan, the middle child, is 14, and Santiago describes him as someone who’s calm and delicate. Diego, his youngest, is 10 and the most energetic among them. They all call him “Daddy” or “Papi”.

Read along as Santiago walks us through what his usual day looks like, how he manages to raise kids and fulfill his work duties simultaneously, and his advice to parents who want to break into IT!

Santiago’s Typical Day at Work

Santiago’s shift runs from 9 AM to 5 PM, Mondays to Fridays. He works three days in the office and two days at home. He teaches twice a week as well as a Yellow Tail Tech instructor, which starts at 7 PM and ends at 9 PM.

Before his shift begins, Santiago ensures that he wakes up early because he wants to drive his boys to school. He makes sure that he engages them in a light and fun conversation en route to their campus to help set their mood.

If he has to work in the office for the day, Santiago will be in a cab at 8:25 AM. Otherwise, he’ll be on his desk at 9 AM, checking emails and Slack messages, listing what tasks to prioritize depending on the urgency for the first thirty minutes. He has workstations in both his house and the office that have 2 monitors since he needs to keep a lot of apps open and check them simultaneously.

Santiago will then monitor the servers and infrastructure of Yellow Tail Tech (the one we have in Maryland which are physical servers) for the next thirty minutes (until 10 AM). He audits and deletes what needs to be deleted because a lot of our students work in those servers.

From 10 AM to 11 AM, Santiago moves on to monitoring and managing the Cloud, which takes more time than the physical servers because it contains more accounts. “I need to monitor the expenses—on what the students are using and what they aren’t. I have to terminate those resources if they’re not being used.

11 AM to 12 PM is when Santiago checks the tickets for the Linux classes. “I give feedback to the students if they’re doing good or not, if they need to fix something on those tickets or not.” Some days of the week, he also does mock interviews with our students who are in the latter part of the program during this time frame.

Lunch, 12 PM to 1 PM is Santiago’s non-negotiable time block for his family. He takes a cab to his house to eat with them when he’s working in the office, or just gets up from his workstation and walks straight up to the dining table when he’s at home. He makes sure that he enjoys this midway break with his wife and kids, and that they enjoy it as well.

Daily meetings are up next for Santiago when he returns to work at 1 PM. More mock interviews sometimes also fill this schedule. It usually lasts until 2 PM.

From 2 PM onwards, Santiago dedicates the rest of the day to working on special projects that are assigned to him. He also organizes and refurbishes more Linux tickets and rechecks the servers and infrastructure until 5 PM.

When Working Meets Parenting

It’s a given that when working from home, as a parent, boundaries can easily be crossed, and Santiago’s case is no exception. There are instances that he really likes when they happen, and some that he compromises on. 

My favorite part is, when I’m working, my kids will be behind me to spectate what I’m doing. They’re very intrigued, and I enjoy explaining it to them. They ask tons of questions. They really want to learn.” Santiago even thinks that one of them may be a system engineer in the future.

The part he hates is, of course, when he misses out. “Sometimes when I’m teaching in the evening, my kids will want to watch a movie with me or play video games, which is how we hang out, but I can’t. Sometimes they understand but there are also times when they get upset about it.” There was also a time when he missed his kids’ soccer game because he had to work on some weekends.

Santiago shares that it’s his wife who sets boundaries for him. “I’m a workaholic, and I also dedicate some time to studying because in this field, you have to keep learning new technologies. She considers that my studying, which I do outside of my working hours, is still working.” He says that he’ll work all day if he has to, and his wife would often tell him “I think you’ve been working too much so can you please walk away from the computer and come here, sit here with us, let’s take a walk.” 

Advice on Getting the Best of Both Worlds

Santiago enjoys working as Yellow Tail Tech’s Lead Infrastructure Engineer because he gets to help a lot of people and see them break into and grow in IT, and he definitely loves being a parent. You can only be with them for so long before they live their own lives, and spending some quality time together is everything.

For parents that are considering to work as system engineer, Santiago is a living testament that it can work in their favor. ”It’s not easy, there’s gonna be times when you’ll miss out on things, but you just need to balance your time. Commit to a schedule and stick with it… And listen to your wife!” Just like how Santiago tries to make time before, in between, and after his work. “I dedicate 3-4 hours of my working days to my family. That’s uncompromisable. For my kids, it’s the little things. They’ll appreciate that and remember them when they’re older.

Ready to be a Parent AND an IT Expert?

If you’re a parent who’s decided to break into IT so you can spend more time with your kids and give them a better future, Yellow Tail Tech specializes in training people with little-to-no IT backgrounds to smoothly transition to a rewarding tech job. We offer programs in Linux and AWS, both in-demand expertise today and in the coming years, that are structured to take you from zero to job-ready in a reasonable amount of time. Book a 10-minute intro call with our Enrollment Advisor to learn more!

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Silvana Zapanta

Sil brings a wealth of experience to her writing and editing projects. After nearly a decade guiding college students in research and communication, she shifted her focus to freelance writing and editing. Her passion for education continues through volunteer work, where she empowers others by teaching research and writing skills.

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