Inside Tigunia: A Conversation with Solana Callaway, System Associate

 

Thank you for reading this month’s Inside Tigunia. Tigunia is comprised of industry-leading experts. Inside Tigunia features full-length, candid conversations to introduce the team to our friends and clients.

 

This month’s spotlight will be on Solana Callaway, System Associate.

 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

 

 

Tigunia
Hello, Solana. Thanks for speaking with me today. Describe your background and how you first found yourself working in the IT and security field.

 

Solana Callaway
I found myself working in IT because that was really the most natural skill I had. Some people are naturally good at math, some with science. Well, I was just good with computers. I was always really drawn to them and helping my friends and family out with technology. The local community college by my school has a program in cybersecurity, so I got an associate degree there. I quickly realized that I really like code and development, so then I went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in software engineering.

 

Tigunia
And prior to working at Tigunia, what does your job history look like?

 

Solana Callaway
I started out as an IT support specialist, and I was really excelling. Within three months of started, I got promoted to an assistant team lead. I was managing a group of 10 people within my first six months of working in IT. And I really enjoyed that. After leaving that role, I went into more of a System Administrator role, and I really enjoyed the kind of control that you got there. There weren’t a lot of restrictions or operational silos, I guess you could say.

Then I moved on to an IT internship. I had a lot of time to do personal development, so I’d spend a lot of time on education sites taking a bunch of courses and training myself. I was learning to use PowerShell a lot. After that, I was head hunted for a role in Tulsa. I was living in Oklahoma City, but there was a role in Tulsa, and it was paying more money than I had ever made. I decided to move there and took on a position as an application support specialist.

The role was split between project management and IT support. I got a lot of experience in that role, but I was only there for a short time because my grandma had gotten sick, and they didn’t allow me time off for the funeral. I left that role after choosing to attend the funeral. It was really bad experience, but luckily, a recruiter representing Tigunia had reached out to me that same week and said they were hiring for a contract role. I interviewed with some team members here and they ended up liking me so much they hired me on full time. I’ve been here for about nine months, and I’ve really, thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Tigunia
Okay, awesome. In the five years or so that you’ve been in the in the industry, how would you say that the industry has evolved in that time?

 

Solana Callaway
When I started, I knew that a lot of companies were kind of run by a generation that was essentially doing business as usual for many years. They weren’t open-minded toward alternative methods of working, such as remote working or hybrid. COVID hit right around the two-year mark of when I had been in industry and so a lot of companies saw that quick shift. Suddenly, everybody was working from home.

We’ve seen some of them bounce back to their old ways of staying in office, but a lot of them have realized that it’s okay to work from home and it’s better for people to not have to commute 45 minutes. They can take the kids to school, go to appointments, just take on a level of flexibility that used to not exist. Many companies have really decided to look at the work/life balance and needs of their employees.

 

Tigunia
Right. Yeah, I would agree. Could you describe a time when you were able to improve upon an existing workflow that a client was using?

 

Solana Callaway
Awhile back, I was working on a project for the company that hadn’t had an IT manager for about 7 years. I had just taken on the role as a systems administrator. I went on site for them and spent the first couple of weeks just evaluating their needs because it was messy. They gave me this giant office, but it was filled with 20-year-old monitors and outdated computers. But the main complaint they had was that their Internet was terrible.

I took the time and ended up working with the local provider and working with the CFO there to get an overhaul of their wireless access points solutions. We ended up taking out all the old equipment and installing new equipment. We also created a map of the building, and it was like it was like a three-story building and they had about 500 users, so it was a laborious process. But the entire project ended well, and it was a huge success, I would say.

 

Tigunia
Awesome, that’s great to hear. What are your go to resources to remain up to date on the latest information and tactics in this field?

 

Solana Callaway
Honestly, I really like Microsoft Learn. I find that it has a lot of knowledge related to the solutions that I’m looking for. There are also several forums that I like to reference. And my coworkers, who are a wealth of knowledge. Particularly Brad Prendergast. He’s very intelligent, funny and great to work with. I ask him questions all the time.

 

Tigunia
Yes, Brad is great. I had a good time interviewing him last month. Alright, let’s transition to some more lighthearted questions. What’s your favorite book and/or movie, and why?

 

Solana Callaway
Okay, my favorite movie I would have to say is The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. I really loved that movie for many reasons. He was a brilliant person, obviously, regarding the Enigma ciphers. It’s something that changed the way that people were handling problems and solutions. Also, his personal story, struggling in a society that didn’t accept him and facing a difficult situation as a result. It’s an amazing and horrible story. Favorite books, I’d have to say are the Harry Potter books. I didn’t want to say that, but I just couldn’t avoid it. There’s no other book I would rather read than Harry Potter.

 

Tigunia
Yeah, I get that. I never read the books, but I really enjoyed the movies.

 

Solana Callaway
I watch the movies like five times a year, but the books have so much more detail and fantasy involved in them. Once you’re reading them, you can really immerse yourself in the content in the world of Hogwarts.

 

Tigunia
Yeah, I believe that. Do you have a life motto that you live by?

 

Solana Callaway
Yeah, it’s “Be your own sunshine.” My name means sunshine in Spanish, and I’ve always found that you are the person who can control your happiness. You’re the only person who can bring happiness to yourself. If you’re not going to be your own sunshine, no one else can do it for you.

 

Tigunia
I like that a lot. What is the most significant event of your life?

 

Solana Callaway
At age 14, I faced a very difficult loss. I lost my best friend and her family. That was extremely hard to go through as a teenage girl. Who understands that kind of thing? And my parents weren’t really present around this time. I didn’t have anyone, so it was very hard. At the same time, it made me mature. I grew up at a young age and I was forced to make a life for myself. I set my goals in life and so far, I’ve achieved all of them. I look back on that event and I am grateful for the growth that came from that experience, despite how difficult it was.

 

Tigunia
Yeah. It’s really quite amazing that you’ve come as far as you have, and you should be proud of that. This is the last question: what do you do to make life count?

 

Solana Callaway
I am unapologetically myself. I log into work and I’m just me. I don’t have a professional side or a personal side, it’s all just Solana. If you’re talking to Solana, you’re getting Solana. Life’s too short to pretend to be something you’re not.

 

 

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To further connect with Solana:

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