Kevin Apolinario, better known as Kevtech IT Support on Youtube, brings his teaching skills to Hacker Valley to talk about the barriers to entry in IT. Disheartened by the lack of good advice given to him as he entered the tech world, Kev breaks down programs and concepts, such as helpdesk, for IT practitioners that may not have access to expensive equipment or formal education. Anyone can learn IT, and it’s Kev’s mission to help everyone find the method and the teacher that helps them learn the best.
[00:00] Forming Kevtech IT Support to give the right IT advice
[07:21] Helpdesk success through customer service skills
[11:49] Printers on VPNs and other major IT troubleshooting lessons
[15:56] Customizing teaching and learning experiences for each IT practitioner
[19:54] Better IT and cyber online communities through shared passion
Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and AttackIQ for bringing this episode to life!
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What was your inspiration to start teaching as Kevtech IT Support?
Kev hardly had a traditional journey into IT, instead having jobs in the restaurant industry and law enforcement before even considering entering the tech world. When Kev became a Field Technician for the Department of Education and began learning the ropes of IT, he realized there weren’t resources available for someone of his background to learn simple concepts or master common technical programs. After dealing with the frustrations of education gaps and unreliable advice, Kev decided to be the person for new IT technicians to learn from.
“My journey was rough, because I didn't have anyone guiding me, I didn't have anyone telling me what certs to get. I didn't have anyone telling me the tips and tricks for starting in IT.”
Was it intentional to interweave your name and brand and have them be synonymous?
Hacker Valley feels synonymous with Chris and Ron’s branding for themselves, and Kev maintains a similar element of that with Kevtech IT Support, especially considering he weaves his name directly into his branding. For Kev, this was an entirely purposeful decision, born out of his own desire to be known as Kev, the helpdesk IT guru on YouTube. Building a brand with authenticity about who he is personally and professionally shows other IT professionals that their work or education experiences don’t have to be separate from who they really are.
“That was on purpose for me because I always wanted to be known as the helpdesk guru of IT. Someone that does IT superbly and helps everyone…I wanted to actually show people real-life experiences.”
How would you go about having a tough conversation with somebody whose passion isn’t in IT or cyber?
Some people are just in it for the money, whether that “it” is IT or cybersecurity. Considering the spotlight being placed on cyber labor shortages and tech skills gaps, many professionals have considered joining the field without the passion to support their new job shift. Although Kev believes everyone should be welcome to learn about IT, he understands that there’s a cause of concern in making IT all about the money. The industry needs passionate individuals, Kev explains, and the desire to learn needs to be present when you take that next step into IT.
“I'm sorry, but this field is not for everyone. If you're going to work helpdesk, or IT support, you need to know how to deal with customer service, you need to know how to deal with people.”
What piece of advice would you have for cyber or IT professionals looking to level up their community?
From Kev’s perspective, gatekeeping isn’t just mean, it’s legitimately harmful to the IT community. IT professionals can’t level up without leaders willing to step up and teach their knowledge. Hiding IT tips or tricks doesn’t save careers, it only succeeds in hurting other IT practitioners and negatively impacting customers relying on that expertise. Kev advocates for increasing transparency within the IT and cyber communities, and explains that gaining knowledge should be valued more than capital gains by practitioners and professionals.
“I believe in helping the community, I believe in sharing your knowledge. So, the more engaged you get with the community, the better it is for everyone.”
Keep up with Kevin Apolinario on LinkedIn
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Hacker Valley Studio 00:07
Who says, tech can't be human?
Find the right teacher that teaches the way you love, that you love the way they teach. Because someteachers are boring and some of them are not boring. So, you find a teacher that's not boring, that teaches the topic that you like, in a way that you can learn and then, you could do it on your own, that's my advice for that.
Hacker Valley Studio 00:30
Welcome to the Hacker Valley Studio podcast.
We get it. Another vendor running another podcast ad, trying to get you to check out their product. Instead of explaining to you what our amazing sponsor Axonius does, we've brought in an Axonius customer to fill you in. Take it from Jason Loomis, Chief Information Security Officer at Mindbody.
Jason from Mindbody 00:55
The sheer excitement of my team to have visibility into what's in our environment, and have it all in one location is just— I can't express how important it is for us.
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What's going on, everybody? You are in the Hacker Valley Studio with your host, Ron and Chris.
Welcome back to the show.
Glad to be back again. You know, we are reppin’ a family. A family that's grown pretty big. We've started a family in Discord, we first started a family in LinkedIn, and it's always great when we're able to bring in family to the podcast. We've done exactly that. Our guest today is Kev Tech IT Support. You might know him from his YouTube channel called Kev Tech IT Support, we call them Kev for short. I would highly, highly recommend checking out his YouTube page. We'll jump in to all the things that Kev talks about in his content, but most importantly, Kev, welcome to the podcast.
Thank you, Ron. Thank you, Chris. Thank you for having me here. I really appreciate it. I hope
everyone's having a good day. I guess I'll do a brief introduction about me. So, a little bit about me, I have a YouTube channel, but before that, I'll take a step back a little bit. I actually come from a restaurant background, so before I got into IT, I actually did about 12 years of restaurant experience. And then, it's really just gonna lead with a bunch of more answers and more questions with me, because my background is a little bizarre. So, I did restaurant experience. I also did four years in the NYPD prior to getting into IT, and then after that, I started working in IT. I actually got my first job working for the Department of Education. I started learning the basics of IT, like CompTIA Plus. Literally my first job was a Field Technician for the Department of Education. We didn't have official cars at the time, so, I was just running around the five boroughs of New York, because I'm originally born and raised from New York, running around with hard drives, memory graphics cards, hardware parts for
printers. I was just running around swiping parts, fixing computers, and stuff like that.
That was actually one of my first jobs in IT and that also inspired me to start my own YouTube channel because I wanted to create some sort of footprint on how to get started in IT. What happened with me is, the reality of IT hit me in the face. When I first started IT, I asked for career advice and I got the most insane, silly advice in the history of IT. Someone told me go get this certification. Someone told me go get that certification. It became an endless loop of questions and more questions, because I didn't have a career path. So, I ended up learning the hard way, if that makes sense for you guys, because no one actually gave me mentoring, or gave me the right advice to get started in IT. I had to learn the hard way, so that's why I started my YouTube channel. It just makes it a lot easier for someone that is brand new to IT, coming from zero experience and knows absolutely nothing about IT, doesn't even know how a computer runs or turns on. That's what motivated me to start my channel. That's a little bit about me. I could go on and on, but that's so far, that's some of my information.
No, that's a perfect segue into really the origin of who you are as Kev Tech. I mean, you definitely turned yourself into a persona. I'd be curious because my personal journey, I started creating content similar to you because there was stuff that I didn't see out in the world, out in the community. I'm curious because my initial start, I started burning almost a dirty fuel. It was almost like, "Hey, I'm going to show everybody. I'm going to make a name for myself, even though people count me out it," but it sounds like you might have had some initial frustrations of not having that person that you could lean on, or other people could lean on that. Did it start from sort of that perspective and it grew into you just helping everybody? What was that journey like?
So, my journey, that's a very good question. My journey was a little rough, because I didn't have anyone guiding me and I didn't have anyone telling me what certs to get. I didn't have anyone telling me the tips and tricks for starting in IT. I'll give you a real-life example. Someone told me just, "Go get the certification, and you should be able to get a job after that," but the reality of IT is, that's not true. You need more than just a cert. You need to know how to fix your resume, you need to know how to talk on a job interview, you need to know how to market yourself, and you need to know how to fix your LinkedIn profile and just how to create genuine connections with people on LinkedIn and reaching out to Job recruiters and just making your resume tech-related. I didn't know anything about those things and I just started learning little by little based on my personal experience and based on other people that I worked with, because I started helping other people. I took that as knowledge for me, and for me making more videos, if that makes sense.
That does and that's awesome that you took the initiative to do it yourself. That almost reminds me of me and Chris, starting Hacker Valley. We wanted a community but we also wanted to speak to amazing people like yourself, and we wanted just so many things that weren't really available for us in one single place, let alone a few places. The best that we had was books and other people's podcasts. So, we had to do it ourselves. Along the way, building our LinkedIn, building our following, we did almost have our brand become synonymous with our names, and it was a lot of fun because you refer to Hacker Valley, you're referring back to Chris and Ron. I'm sure it's the same when you think of Kev Tech, and all the work that you're doing. Was that intentional to interweave your name and brand and kind of have them synonymous? Or, did that just happen by way of you getting started?
No, that was on purpose for me because I always wanted to be known as the helpdesk guru of IT. So Someone that does IT superbly and helps everyone, because there's a lot of content out there. The thing with me is I try to make it as realistic as I possibly can because one of my other jobs I worked was helpdesk, and I wanted to actually show people actual real-life experiences based on my personal experience in how you can learn those skills on your own, without actually buying expensive equipment, or without investing a lot of money. So, that's the reason why I just branded myself as that.
When you go through teaching people about like helpdesk, because I think there's definitely a very technical component to it, but I also think there's a bit of a customer service component to it. Do you touch on a lot of that stuff in your content?
Yeah, so for me, Chris should be honest with you, I'm gonna tell you the truth, I personally believe is I come from a restaurant background. And people could disagree with me, I personally believe that customer, I feel like anyone can learn it. But you cannot teach customer service either have it or don't have it or you learn it over time. And that's just like my personal opinion, because I seen a lot of people that want to work helped us, and they want to learn the technologies, but they don't want to deal with people. You got to have both, you know, it's not like that. So you got to be somewhere in the middle.
And you got to know how to how to deal with customers how to have empathy, and don't take it personal. They're not mad at you. They're mad at the computer that's not working. So that's basically what I try to teach with people and people are watching my videos.
So, let's talk about what it takes. I'm sure you've learned a lot and you've had a lot of people reach outvto you. What is one of those technical skills? Because we always refer back to that as practitioners of technology? What's one of those technical skills that you think everyone in your audience should really be keeping an eye on? And what is another skill that's not technical that is just as important that everyone's got to keep an eye on.
So, for technical and this is not some very, this is not going to sound very tech related to the resume. Because you need to know certain skills, right? So, for technical, I would say you need to know how to how to be how to have a black belt in Google. So, you need to know how to how to be a Google kung fu master when it comes to researching answers because anyone that works helpdesk IT support to be honest with you, you're not gonna know all the answers. Nobody knows everything. So, you get you're gonna have to like Google the living hell out of the answer. When you know how to do that you become like a master and IT support is when you know how to find the answer. That's very important. Knowing how to find the answer when you don't know the answer, knowing how to find it, whether it's from a ticketing system, from googling or asking for help, just finding out the answer. That's my first skills as for very important to me. And then for non-skills, it would be people skills, soft skills, you need to know
how to interact with a customer. Because at the end of the day, when you think is what my background is, I have executive support, experience and IT support. So, you need to know how to break something down in a non-technical way that you don't sound like you're a robot and you don't sound like you're talking mumble jumble. So, that's very important that you know how to interact with someone, and how to break it down in a non-technical way. Like, they're your mom and dad. That's basically what I feel about those two components.
I love both of those. I mean, you need both, you need to be able to look things up, but you also need those soft skills, those people skills, in order to meet people where they are. A lot of times we tend to forget, we tend to lack a little bit of empathy, and those interactions do not make anything better. There's a lot of tests that we go through as technicians, as technologists. We take tests when we go to school, we take tests when we get the certification, we're tested sometimes on the interview. We go through all these tests, and we try to pass them all with flying colors, but there's one test that just
strikes fear in the heart of every technologist, and that is printers. I know that you've had your running with printers in the past, because I mean, I'm sure you've had to deal with troubleshooting printers, you've had to deal with connecting printers. We had a discussion a little while ago in the discord about your love for printers. Tell us a little bit where that comes from and some of the crazy hijinks that you've had to deal with when it comes to printers.
Yeah, definitely. So, I have issues with printers being on VPN. So, for example, if you have someone that has a printer, and they're trying to add a printer using VPN on a laptop, what happens is your network tends to drop the printer, because it's not whitelisted, it's blacklisted. So, that means it's being blocked. You have to go and work with your network team to allow it. So, you have to give them the physical address or the IP address of that printer for them to allow it, that's one issue I had with printers. I'll give you a second one. The second one was with someone tries to log in to their virtual computer on Citrix, and they're trying to add a local printer at home, but they're working remotely from home to connect to their virtual desktop. Sometimes, that doesn't work because Citrix is not set up correctly where it redirects the printer. You may have to add someone to a security group, or you may have to get the proper approvals and the proper permissions for that to work on their computer. Those are the things I have seen. It's not like I hate printers, I kinda do, but it's just rough sometimes with drivers, and it's rough sometimes when you're working with C-level folks and their stuff doesn't work.
So, I always tell someone, one thing that's very important when you're doing dealing with printers, and you can't get it to work, for the love of God, please just print the document and hand it over to the Clevel folks if they can't get it to work. That's my thought process on that.
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So, run us through one of these war stories. I feel like there're horror stories that we all face as people that use technology, but I'm sure over your career, especially working at NYPD, you've probably worked with people that just don't use technology on a day-to-day basis. They might use it once per day, once per week, and try to avoid it at all costs. What's a funny war story, or just an example of a story that you have working with people that really shows your care and attention to customer support, but also to solving a problem that might not be apparent to someone else?
I was working with a client and at that time, I was working at a hedge fund. So, this hedge fund has about roughly 4000 employees and I'm on the first floor and they're on the 21st floor and they told me that they're having issues with their laptop. The way it was set up is they have a laptop with a docking station, you plug that boy and latch it in, and then after that, it should just turn on and you should see it on the two screens. They have two monitors, a keyboard and a mouse. So, I go up there, he calls me and he's like, "My computer's not working." I go all the way up there. I'm troubleshooting and I'm looking\ at it, and I see that it's just a silly issue, I see that the power for the cable to turn on the docking station
just wasn't connected, to be honest with you. So, I actually plugged it in, I just went underneath the
desk and did that. What happened was he kicked it off by accident with his leg because he was sitting down. He's like, "Man, everything just went out. Why is it not working?" And I went, and I'm like, "Oh, it's right here. Just plug it in." We had to laugh about it. He didn't get mad, I didn't get mad, it's whatever, it happens to everyone. So, that's a funny story I had with him and then, funny enough, he took me out to eat after that.
Oh, hey, there you go, made a friend and got a got a meal out of it. So, that's a happy story. One thing that you know we've talked about in the past is we've talked about martial arts. One of the things that Ron likes to remind everybody about is a quote from Jim Quick, "If you teach it, you get to learn it twice." I think that's part of the reason why my foundation as a martial artist has been really good because I used to teach, I used to coach, and the more you go through the nuances of the very basics, the better you get at it. So, my martial arts game isn't overly advanced. I don't do a lot of flashy moves, but I have a really solid understanding of the foundations of that particular art. I would assume that the same would be for you, whether you're talking about martial arts, or you're talking about tech support
and help desk stuff, because you're constantly thinking about: How do I teach this? How do I teach this? How do I teach this? Do you feel like you have a black belt level understanding of the stuff that you're doing, because you put out so much content?
I will be honest with you, I feel like maybe I'm still a brown belt, and the reason for that is hat
technology's always changing. You're always constantly learning. So, I have to try to reinvent the very time I'm teaching something to someone. That's because I learned my lessons from going tobschool and going to college. At the end of the day, not everyone learns the same. So, you have tobfigure out your method of learning. Somebody might be good with books, somebody might be good withbbeing hands on, and somebody might be good as a visual person. In watching the videos, I definitelybfeel like I still haven't mastered that because each individual person learns their own way. I've alwaysbgot to figure out how that person learns their own way, so I can teach them my stuff, if that makesbsense.
It does, I like that. I think, when it comes to teaching, that's always one challenge and one way that you can go about learning, but there's many other ways that you can go about learning. You can let go about learning from reading, from watching, from being hands on and trying to perform something. What has been your way that you've really gravitated towards learning? And now that you're a teacher, what's the technique that more and more people can use to really unlock their ability to learn?
I will say straight up labbing. So, if you're going to learn something, I'll give you an example. Help Desk, right? it's go over help desk for a second. Help desk is something you need to know, if you're gonna go for help desk, obviously, but you need to know about active directory. So, obviously, you could go here and watch five of my videos, six of my videos, and you can watch it over and over again, nod your head, and say, "I get it." But honestly, you don't get it. Why I say that is because you nod your head and you say, "I get it," but you're not actually doi g it. So, one thing is watching a video and another thing is actually doing it. I always recommend someone to do a home lab. If you know anything about virtualization, you could use VMware, you could use VirtualBox and just download the ISO for server 2016, server 2019, and install Active Directory and then follow along on the video with what you're seeing, follow along on your lab. Lab it up and learn. For me, I think that's the most popular way of learning. And then, the second thing of learning is that not, I'm not saying this to kick me out of my
videos from saying that because not everyone loves the way you teach, right? You need to find the right teacher that you love the way they teach. Because some teachers are boring and some of them are not boring. Find a teacher that's not boring, that teaches the topic that you like, in a way that you can learn and then, you could do it on your own. That's my advice for that.
I think that's great advice. You know, not everybody is going to be everyone's cup of tea, especially when it comes to instruction. I'm sure that along your storied career in teaching and putting out content, you've probably had a slew of folks that have reached out and said, "I want you to be my mentor." Sometimes, people are really serious, because it's really what they want to do, but sometimes, I know Ron and myself have gotten this in the past, but people reach out and say, "Hey, I want to learn the cybersecurity thing," but really, they just know that you can make money, they don't necessarily have a passion for cybersecurity. But they tend to listen to you, and they say, "Oh, yeah, I get it," and then they don't do the work. How would you go about having a conversation with somebody that you can tell that it's not their passion? They don't necessarily want to go into cybersecurity or technology because it's
what they're passionate in, but because they just heard somebody say that you could make money. What would that conversation look like from your perspective?
For me, I'll be very honest with someone, I'm very blunt when it comes to talking. I'll tell them straight up that like, "I'm sorry, but this field is not for everyone." If you're going to work helpdesk, or IT support, you need to know how to deal with customer service, you need to know how to deal with people. If you want to get into something like cybersecurity, for example, you need to understand it. When you first start IT, you're not going to make six figures, it's just a reality of IT. You have to build your work experience, and you move your way up. Also, the other thing is, it's not all about the money, too. You have to find your passion, you have to find what you love, and find something that is not going to make you miserable. Like, can you see yourself doing this job for five years and be happy or be miserable? That's something that I would tell that person, if they're asking me about it.
Yeah. So, when you look at all the things that you've done in your career, you're putting out content, you're trying to be the thing that you didn't have when you were coming up in your career. When you look at other people out there, and they know that there's more that they can be doing to put either content out there or lift other people up, what piece of advice would you have for them to start leveling up the rest of their community, whether they're in IT or cybersecurity?
For someone like that, for someone that has a YouTube channel, I always recommend that they do collaborations, that's one thing. The other thing I recommend is create your platform, create your social media, not through YouTube, but through LinkedIn. So, if you have videos on YouTube, put it on LinkedIn as well. Maybe engage with other people that have YouTube channels, engage with people that are teaching or want to learn the things that you're doing. That's another thing and then, the other thing is, just like well, you have Chris, you have a discord. If you have a YouTube channel, right? Why not create a discord of like-minded people that want to learn the stuff that you're teaching and have them participate on Discord and have them go in there and talk to different people in different fields, and have them engage with one another? Because at the end of the day, for me personally, IT is a community. One thing that is important for me is and that frustrates the hell out of me is you shouldn't be hiding knowledge. I don't believe in that, I believe in helping the community, I believe in sharing your knowledge. So, the more engaged you get with the community, the better it is for everyone. You shouldn't be hiding something just because you don't want to show somebody something. Try to put yourself out there, try to teach something, and just help everybody. That's basically how I feel about
Perfect. Absolutely perfect. Kev Tech, it was an honor to chop it up with you today. For the folks out there that want to stay up to date with you, your incredible content, and everything else that you have going on in this world. What are the best ways that people can do that?
So, you could reach out to me on Discord, I have my own discord. You could also reach out to me on LinkedIn as Kevin Apolinario, and just send me a message. I'm also on YouTube as well. I also actually have my own website KevTechITSupport.com. So, I'm everywhere, I'm also on different social media platforms. So, yeah, definitely reach out to me on LinkedIn, you could send me a message. Make sure you send me a message with a note on it and tell me who you are, where you're coming from, and what you want to talk about, or what you want to learn.
Love it. Check Kev out, subscribe to the YouTube, the website. We've dropped it all in the show notes. Kev, thank you again for jumping on the mics with us. With that, we'll see everyone next time.
Hacker Valley Studio 24:32
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