This post is inspired by a very good blog post from one of my colleagues in the US, which I really appreciated as I was a newcomer to the company. It was great to see what it is like working for Cloudflare after one year and to learn from the lessons she had learnt.
I'll try to do the same in three parts. Beginning with how my on-boarding went, my first customer experiences and finally what is my day-to-day life at Cloudflare. These writings only reflect my personal feelings and thoughts. The experience is different for each and every newcomer to Cloudflare.
Chapter 1 - On-boarding, being impressed and filling the (big) knowledge gaps.
Before I joined Cloudflare, I was working as a Security Consultant in Paris, France. I never had the opportunity to move abroad to speak English (
me.englishLevel = 0), I never had any reason to live outside of France and was at the same time looking for another Job. Perfect then!
When I saw the job posting, I immediately applied as I knew the company well, the mindset and the products Cloudflare provided. It took me 6 months to get the offer probably because I was abroad and the French-speaking team was still under construction, to be honest, I would have given it a year if it was needed.
At Cloudflare, every new Solutions Engineer is sent to San Francisco for about a month to get a proper onboarding.
This has primarily served three purposes:
- Meet people,
- Understand the Sales pitch
- Be technically prepared to face the customers!
I was optimistic in meeting the criteria with four weeks of training in SFO. However, I quickly changed my mind after the first hour! Thinking "This is really tough." I literally had to learn two languages, English and Cloudflarian.
Post on linkedin I shared as I was so excited to start, that shows how hyped I was
For learning English, I decided to postpone as I had so many things to learn, I was meeting with (impressive) people talking about a product as if I never heard about it before. For me, Cloudflare was a plug-and-play product implementing complex things in a way that kids could setup and understand. Digging deeper I discovered a monster. Not just a simple, well-crafted feature set that can be toggled on/off. but at the same time, a very well furnished product where being a master of a specific piece can take an age to learn!
Things I learnt:
- People at Cloudflare are impressive. They are at the same time smart, humble, knowledgeable and happy to share/help!
- Break, reverse-engineer, test, re-break the product with your test zone, that's the best way to not presume but to understand how it works.
- Ask questions as many as you can. If you're thinking about asking the question it means that's not clear to you so ASK!
- Cloudflare is a transparent company, use this to your advantage to learn by yourself! We've got access to every single line of code of the product, if you're asking yourself how something works, just dig into the code or ask someone to point you to the correct portion of the codebase.
- The internal WIKI is your new god!
Chapter 2 - Come back to London and First customer experience
After the 4 weeks, I was almost dead and my head felt like it had gained kilos not from the SF food but with knowledge, I've gone back to my new home, the UK! Remembering that my girlfriend and I had left the apartment before unpacking the boxes, the joy!
After the weekend, the big day had arrived! My first day at Cloudflare London, I met the team which I was already quite familiar with given the number of interviews I had during my hiring process. They hadn't changed, they were always so friendly and I felt at home very quickly.
English level at the time: 0 + 4 weeks in SFO
My first customer meeting
When I came back, I was literally thrown on to a call with a customer. Shadowed by a fellow colleague. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I discovered that they were Irish with a very difficult accent. I was not able to understand any words they were saying. Looking at my SE shadow with the MAYDAY eyes (please help me), who let me go it alone for this one, so I kept asking to repeat again and over again for the whole meeting. The customer had been quite nice and was repeating and we finally ended the call with what every customer wants: answers and solutions.
The calls after, I was gaining more and more confident and able to do them on my own, I was still ending the calls with things to catch up on as I wasn't able to answer directly on the phone. The more calls I had about different subjects, the more I felt capable. I was also noticing my English level improving. Today I'm able to follow a complete call with those Irish folks and it makes me proud to know how far I have come learning a new language.
Things I learnt:
- A customer has NO reason to challenge you, make fun of you, or judge in any way what you say. The vision you have of your own presentation is ALWAYS perceived worse than what the customer/audience/colleague is observing. Keep this in mind when you need to do a presentation, or in general talk in public.
- Cloudflare trusts you and when the company hires you. Don't doubt your capabilities, you ARE capable.
- No need to postpone the opportunities. Put yourself in a challenging situation, make mistakes, that's the way we all learn.
- Never assume. Ask or verify with someone if you are unsure. You'll never be expected to know everything about everything but just to be able to produce the work needed to get a valuable answer.
Chapter 3 - Mess around and enjoy to be part of the Rocketship
It took me about 4 months before feeling confident in myself and autonomous, I mean autonomous in a sense that I was not discovering a new subject for any new customer or researching general questions, I knew the global subject and that there was one, to be able to dig for myself and to get to the solution I was looking for.
I started to be by myself, taking the lead on things, being confident (what a sentiment). I started to do things not especially related to my work with customers or prospects like taking time to improve my LUA skills, HTTP knowledge, Python, I wrote my first technical blog article and I even took part of the project of building a sound-level monitoring system based on a Raspberry PI and a decibel meter sending alerts to our internal chat system when the level was too high! Talking with engineers is also so great, discovering what's going on behind the scene, how the product is built and designed you're supposed to be the guru of the product in front of the customers.
I discovered that no matter the subject you pick-up at Cloudflare, mastering it will take a LONG time, which is quite exciting as I hate to be bored, really. As a Solutions Engineer, you're not asked to master every subject, that's why we're a team and we've our own preferences / natural abilities in terms of technical subjects. We then kind of provide consulting to each other when it's needed, and that's what's great.
I really enjoy my life at Cloudflare because I see me as my own boss, with deadlines, pipelines, objectives and no matter the path I take, the importance is to reach the target. Personal development is part of it, I was never asked to stop doing non-directly related to customer things, you're even advised to do so. It will give you the satisfaction of doing something that makes sense and challenges you.
Sweets delivery when we started to roll-out the DNS F-root (Yeah!)
The company itself now, and being part of a Rocketship has its advantages. It reassures me of the fact I took the correct decision 1 year and 3 months ago. I'm not saying that because I am career-obsessed but because I see the technical choices we make, how much we're growing, the fact we have such a smart team and we are able to keep it and that gives me the evidence that the fun at Cloudflare isn't going to stop.
Things I learnt:
- Take time to fill your gaps, you will never be reproached for it.
- Spend time on what you like and share with the team, don't keep it a secret!
- Don't carry the whole load on your shoulders because 1) you couldn't afford it for the long term and 2) we're a team and need coverage on subjects.
Working at Cloudflare took a lot of energy at the beginning to keep up the pace with the team. A team which is knowledgeable and keen to share the information is priceless and gives you the mission of reproducing the same with the colleagues asking you for something.
During the 1 year and 3 months I have been:
- part of the 70th class,
- we only had at the time 100 data centers,
- I have visited 3 countries I've never been
- I've seen the release of
Furthermore, I'm still excited delivering my best, day after day, to create a better internet.
If you’re willing to join an impressive team and work for a very dynamic company to help creating a better internet, we’re looking for many different profiles in our different offices over the planet! Let's have a look!