My AWS Journey

March 2020

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Why I decided to migrate my career into AWS-Cloud?

I have been asked this question hundreds of times and I realized that from day one the answer was clear to me. Cloud is the future because it will help to change the way the world thinks about and moves data. I find that exciting and want to be a part of that change.

Why get certified? Pursuing AWS certifications came to my mind as soon as I found out about cloud technology. I found it fascinating and my desire to learn more grew from there. I wanted to challenge myself, skill up and explore the intricacies of the AWS ecosystem. With many hours of studying and building skills for my first AWS certification I started to get a really good grasp of the AWS ecosystem and in the process dove deep into services and solutions which only increased my motivation and drive to reach my goal.

Where did I start learning? One obvious and easy avenue was to find a partner in crime with the same amount of passion and eagerness about the cloud as me. I was lucky enough to meet that person, a good friend of mine, had the same journey in mind. We set out together and quickly learned how to pace ourselves and study independently through online courses and training. This was a lot harder than I thought but it forced me to really understand the content. It also was the more economically friendly way to go.

Which certification should I get first? After some research I found that there are several different AWS Certifications (when I started there was no Foundational level), and divided it in different groups here:

  • Foundational
  • Associate
  • Professional
  • Specialty
  • Each certification path targets different roles and domains, so it was important for me to pick the right one. I decided to start from the beginning. I started by reading the associate certifications overview pages and then the certifications preparation guides. This might sound boring, but it was quite useful in the end because it pointed me to the Whitepapers and Service FAQs that are relevant to the certifications. Here are the resources below:

  • Overview of AWS
  • Architecting for the Cloud
  • AWS Security Best Practices
  • Well-Architected framework
  • Storage options — use cases
  • When I am not reading or building I am listening. I like to listen to the AWS Podcast on my way to work or when I am running. It features the latest and greatest news from AWS, interviewing guests that share their AWS experience. This program is great because guests are from all the world and they all have diverse perspectives but are unified in their knowledge. It is casual and easy to listen to but the discussions are excellent. My favorite platform to study on was and currently is Udemy. I bought Ryan Kroonenburg three associate level courses from Udemy and later on I was able to merge them with the AcloudGuru platform. It was the best investment so far in my career change and self-development. The subscription service provided me with all the materials I needed to start. Finally I decided to start my certifications exams and I started in the order below:

    My learning route Here I have to add my picture

    Before obtaining my first AWS professional certification I gained some real life experiences working in Toronto on projects as a Cloud Solutions Architect and Cloud Analyst. These two exciting experiences gave me a lot of practical knowledge but also taught me that three associate level certifications are not enough. Almost two years after obtaining my last associate level I decided to pursue the professional level so I hit the books again. My first pick was the AWS-Solutions Architect Professional exam. For this professional certification I used the AcloudGuru AWS-Solutions Architect Professional course as my primary source of reference as well as any and all other possible sources that I could find. Of course, the hands on experiences that I had in the before mentioned roles was invaluable. By the end of 2019 I successfully obtained my certification. At the time I took the exam it was definitely the most challenging one I had taken to date but little did I know that it would not be the hardest.

    What is next?

    After obtaining my AWS-Solutions Architect professional certification, I learned more about AWS and that helped me decide what my next certification was going to be. I remember thinking about it and trying to decide between the AWS-Advanced Networking or AWS-Security Specialty but after working for more than 5 years as a data driven and focused Workforce Analyst creating forecasts, reports and real time data analysis it was clear to me that the AWS-Big Data Specialty was the right choice. So this past January I successfully obtained my Big Data certification only one month after my AWS-Solutions Architect professional certification. This exam right here proved to be the hardest by far!

    The experience and training leading up to this exam were totally different this time around. After reading the Big Data specialty blueprint I knew online courses would not be enough to provide me with the in depth knowledge or the hands on practice that I would need. I searched for a place to give me the type of help that I was looking for and I found great reviews about Shaohua Zhang (Co-Founder and Chief Instructor) at WeCloudData.

    At WeCloudData I learned essential Big Data skills that helped me get to where I am today – a certified Cloud Big Data Specialist. My knowledge in this domain increased via hands-on projects under the mentorship of Lei (Jolay) Zhang who is currently a SDE III/Architect at Amazon. Even before completing the course I felt prepared to take the AWS Big Data specialty exam. It was just what I needed to fill in knowledge gaps and build my confidence on the topic.

    Some resources I read for the exam are listed below:

    In conclusion, remember that the cloud journey is a never-ending one. As cloud technologies evolve so must you. Skills need to be retained and cultivated. So keep building skills and keep striving for the best solutions. There are many accessible resources out there on this topic – many of them free! AWS professionals have been open and responsive to me in my journey willing to answer questions or provide guidance. Great teachers are everywhere. Be warned that there are no secrets and no shortcuts to learn hard skills, it comes with a lot of practice, passion, and dedication! Please share your feedback and thoughts.

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