Johan Calderon

IT Specialist, Rhode Island Army National Guard

What are your favorite hobbies or activities you do for fun?
Jogging, reading but mostly spend time with my wife and 2 kids

Do you play any musical instruments?

Do you play any sports or do any athletic activities?
Running and soccer

What is your favorite non-science book, magazine, or blog?
The Diary of Anne Frank

What’s your favorite song or band?
Lot of them to name, mostly in Spanish

Who do you look up to and admire?
My mother and father

What is the highest degree you have attained?
Masters in IT Management

What future degree(s) do you plan on pursuing, if any?
Masters in Cyber Security

What schools have you attended?
Rhode Island College, Grantham and the University of RI (currently attending)

What were your favorite classes/coursework in elementary school, middle school, high school, college?
I Loved technology/science classes

What educational accomplishments are you most proud of?
As an ESL student, I made the National Honor Society in High School.

What kinds of challenges did you overcome during your education?
I attended school in 3 different countries, for 2 of them I had to adjust to new customs and languages.

Who is your current employer?
Rhode Island Army National Guard

What is your official job title?
Information Technology Specialist

What is your “layman’s” job title?
Systems Admin

How many years have you worked in this organization/position?
10 Years

What does your organization do?
Rhode Island Army National Guard consists of a force of over 2,500 dedicated men and women, who are prepared to serve our State or Nation in a variety of military specialties and state emergencies

What is your role in the organization?
Maintain infrastructure, look for new technologies to improve processes and train, assist and advise other state organizations

Describe your work environment.
It’s great. We have a very tight group that works well together. The door to my office is always open and ready to collaborate with everyone

What tools and/or techniques do you use in your job?
I have 2 computers at work. One is on the network and the other is off the network to test new technologies.

Describe a typical day in your job.
Check email, voicemail, check security scans and make sure possible fixes will not break any applications. Check all systems and make sure backups were successfully completed.

Describe an atypical (but notable) day in your job.
When some servers are not responding or break. Sometimes it can be an easy fix because we have it documented. Sometimes it involves multiple teams getting together and figuring out what is causing the problem. Other times we are called by other teams to look at their issues and try to solve it together.

How is the work you do important to society?
I am part of the best military in the world. We not only defend our nation but as guard members, we help the state in emergencies as well.

What accomplishments are you most proud of in your current role?
I was nominated as the government employee of the state in 2009. I also became a Chief Warrant Officer in 2014

What projects or goals are you currently pursuing?
Currently working in obtaining a Master’s degree in Cyber Security

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

What is the most exciting, most amazing, or scariest thing that has happened to you during your work?
Amazing; going from a physical environment to a virtual environment and being able to execute a Continuation of operations plan.
Scariest; a few close calls while deployed. I also brought down the whole infrastructure during business hours for about 3 minutes.

What previous employers and positions led to your current role?
Worked for Swarovski Optik as a customer service coordinator, which consisted mostly of managing a database. With the RI Guard, I started as a customer service helpdesk technician and worked my way up.

What other positions have you held that were not necessarily related to your current career?
I spent 10 years in the field artillery as a cannon crewmember

What is the best job you’ve ever had and why?
Current job, love the team and work environment

What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why?
Every job has taught me something in life, so none.

What were you like as a kid?
Very playful, active, curious, spent hours outside.

What were your favorite books/shows/movies when you were a kid?
Tom and Jerry. I still watch it with my kids.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up at age 12? At age 15? At age 18?
12 Doctor
15 Professional soccer player
18 Fighter pilot

When did you know you wanted to pursue your current career, and what drove you towards it?
I started taking computer science classes and liked the technology aspect but did not see myself as a programmer, then pursued IT management which seemed more diverse

Who inspired you on this path?
My stepfather

What did you believe about this career before entering into it that proved to be different once you were in it?
Information Technology /Cyber was not just one field. It branches out in different subfields which have been growing over the years

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what other career(s) might you have pursued?
Maybe a doctor, or a teacher…

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your career?
IT/Cyber is a diverse field and has many jobs within it. With the power of the internet, there are a lot of tools out there to explore on your own. Get the tools and explore, explore, explore… This will answer some of your questions

What advice would you give students, in general?
Never stop believing in yourself. Just remember in order to accomplish your dreams, you will have to work hard and there will be ups and downs along the way, but never stop working and believing. An education will help you getting those dreams come true

What are some interesting places you’ve traveled? (Can be career-related or personal.)
Iraq and Afghanistan as part of deployments. China, Korea, Peru (very diverse and best cuisine in my opinion), Colombia (where I was born), Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Germany (love Europe). I hope to go to Africa one day… and many other places to see…