Employee Spotlight - Calling to the Stage Jacob Jones
Q: First and foremost JJ, thank you so much for sitting to chat with us. To kick things off, can you share what your role is at QuantumRhino?
A: I joined QuantumRhino as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Solutions Architect. I guess the easiest way to answer what I do, is I help build the systems on which we run development and production environments. Any sort of solution we design for a client that involves AWS or the cloud integrations, I deal with that. Before the development team can even begin working, my job is to design the system they will need. I will then build, architect, and scaffold the platform before the project starts.
Q: Wow! Sounds like you need a hardhat on for your days at QuantumRhino, but for some of our non-technical readers, can you break that down even further?
A: Of course. So, in simpler terms, I manage QuantumRhino’s AWS cloud computing architecture. What that means, is I make sure the QR cloud is secured from outside exploits and is resilient. I design the load-balancing so the system can handle all the traffic we throw at it. And I keep it running optimally so both our internal and external users don’t experience any issues or failures. I also make sure our QR team is following best practices when it comes to internet safety and security, and make recommendations to clients on how they can fortify their own web-based systems.
Personally, my passion is finding new and interesting ways to build platforms and tighten security in the cloud. I put that to good use to help QuantumRhino develop advanced and cutting edge cloud-based solutions for our team and our clients.
Q. How did you get into AWS Engineering?
A: A few years ago, there were several part-time AWS architecture projects that I needed help with at my current job and I just couldn’t find experienced people with the time to do it. You know, the people that are typically in the AWS world are employed full-time or more and are busy. So really, it was just out of necessity that I said to myself, “Hey, I need engineers in AWS - why not me?” so I decided I'm going to do it now!
Q: How long have you been with QuantumRhino?
A: I have been with QuantumRhino since Summer of 2021.
Q: I’m sure you had your pick of offers, with cloud computing on the rise and AWS Architects in high demand! What made you choose QuantumRhino over another opportunity or technology company?
A: Simply put - I wanted to grow. That was the biggest thing that QuantumRhino offered that I didn't really see or hear too many other places talking about. What I learned very quickly, even during the interview process, is that QuantumRhino really is just the best of the best! There was no one else digging their hands into so many various and different things. QuantumRhino’s whole culture of “We're going to do this thing at the highest level possible, and that's what we do,” is so exciting to me. So I was super attracted to QuantumRhino’s opportunities to grow, for me personally and as a company, and the diversity of products and services offered to clients.
Q: Can you share with us more about your professional background prior to QuantumRhino?
A: So in BC times - and by that, I mean life BEFORE COVID - I was in live music and event production. It’s super similar to what I do in technology, just with different timelines and different tools - and of course, all live and in the moment. I traveled around the country for years, flying in and out of different cities from event to event and coast to coast. And then, a short time before QuantumRhino, I got into doing lasers shows in New York City for a lot of different DJs and electronic music artists, out in some crazy, crazy venues. I actually still do project management and tech for some laser productions on the side.
Q: Wow!! That sounds so intriguing. Paint a picture for me on what that all entails, for someone who has never seen the behind the scenes set-up of a laser show.
A: Sure! So when there is a show, the whole thing is a process, at every scale and in every way. First, we gather the requirements of the gear we will need and plan where it is going, to make sure it arrives to the venue on time. The next step is the gear has to get to the venue, wherever in the country that is. Once it arrives, we go to the venue for the show and we set up the equipment, engineer it, program it, and bam! It’s showtime! Then for me, it's pretty much hands-off from there.
Typically in live production, there's audio, video, lighting, and special FX working the show itself. I personally have always liked managing the design, set up, build, and take-down of any respective system — which is known as the ‘Systems Tech’ role. So I'm typically not the one you see that is actually performing with the lasers and music; I prefer to go back to the hotel and sleep until I have to go back in the morning to break everything back down and get the equipment on its way to the next show.
So, it's not a coincidence that in my “BC” life, I'm a systems guy. Really, a big piece of what I do at QuantumRhino is dealing with our system management in a very similar way to live production systems.
Q: What is the most memorable show you worked?
A: I have two of them, actually! For one, I was the lead audio tech for a Special Olympics event in an arena, which was a huge event, and very rewarding and inspiring to work. But more recently, I did Carl Cox at the Brooklyn Mirage in Avant Gardner. That was the craziest thing I think I've ever seen in my life!
Q: Really?! Tell me more about that!!
A: All I can say, is the event went until 8 AM and the manager of the act was trying everything they could to just KEEP going! It was super cool to see top artists in the industry just wanting to go further and further in the moment — Seeing about 8,000 people on a Friday night party hard until 8 AM and want to keep on going in New York is really just something else!
Q: That sounds amazing — I can only imagine that kind of energy!
A: It really was so awesome!
Q: OK, back to work questions — do you have any certifications you’re really proud of, or are you currently taking any programs or certifications? If not, what certifications would you like to accomplish?
A: Right now, I am working on my AWS Professional Solutions Architect certification, a couple of Google Cloud certifications, and CompTIA’s CASP+. I have my hands in many certification programs so far this year. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry.
Q: Can you share with us what gets you the most geeked out about what you do?
A: I love building systems and I'm obviously an Amazon Cloud Services fan. I am obsessed with emerging technologies that make us bigger, faster, and stronger quickly.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would share with someone who is interested in getting into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) career?
A: My initial answer is get a TikTok and make CONTENT! (haha), but I don’t think that’s the answer you’re looking for!
Really, my advice would be to work harder than everyone else and just keep your ear to the ground and listen to what's coming, you know? If you start to see a technology trend, jump in on it! The worst thing that's going to happen is you learn something new and it goes nowhere. But even if it stops there, you still learned something and that will help you move on to whatever comes next. Anytime you hold back or don't stay on it in STEAM, well, there's gonna be 17,000 people ahead of you.
Q: That’s great advice. Now, outside of work, what do you find yourself doing in your spare time? Is it watching TikTok?!
A: Honestly? You’re going to laugh, but that would be building more systems. I consistently and persistently learn. I maybe have like two fiction books, and the rest are non-fiction/technical books. Really, I just like to learn!
Q: Now this next question I ask as a mother to a son who also really enjoys computer systems - At what point did you start to really get into technology and building programs? How did that journey manifest for you?
A: I think I was four years old when Steve Jobs announced the original iMac. You know, the “fishbowl” Bondi Blue one? I think I was five or six when we finally got one in our household. Getting that original Steve Jobs and Johnny Ives Bondi Blue iMac, that was just it for me. All I wanted to do was tinker and build with it. I just wanted to know everything crazy that I could do on that iMac in the late 90s. So that's another reason I'm very very attached to my Apple products. It's what I've used my entire life — in and out, top to bottom.
Q: What was your favorite toy growing up?
A: My Bondi Blue iMac!! (haha) The kid in me now wants the big Lego Mindstorm set — Mindstorms 2020. Well, really I want five of them because I want to build all five different ones!
Q: Fair enough! Were there certain programs you enjoyed on your Bondi Blue iMac?
A: Just everything all together, the whole experience from programming, getting in terminal, getting into Unix, hardware, the whole nine yards!