Technology is a big field, one where you can find a career in vastly differing focus areas. Because of that, not everyone gets into it exactly the same way.
Let me share my story, first!
I started in tech as a regular user, typing away on a big box of a computer that ran Windows 95. I played games like Hover or watched things like the Weezer music video — all that good stuff. I didn’t plan on working in the tech field, well, ever.
Why? I’ve always gone after jobs that involve helping people, and that took me into customer service roles: things like the food and entertainment industry. I actually went to school to study Psychology and Criminology, all in the hopes of becoming Clarice Starling and hunting down the bad guys! When life decided none of that was for me, I shifted focus to surviving, and progressing baby steps ahead.
… And then everything changed
One day, a friend of mine suggested I apply for a phone position at the technology company he worked at. I laughed, and told him I wouldn’t get the job there. After all, I had zero experience in tech at all.
Well, I’m glad to say I was wrong. A few interviews later, I got my offer, and started on what turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.
I dove into Linux (RedHat specifically) and steadily got promoted. I found a love for AWS. I know, weird, right? I loved the console, the endless amount of information about each service, and the never-ending evolution of features and services they continue to pump out. I buckled down and got certified. Every time an opportunity showed up – however out of the blue it seemed – I tried to go for it.
And that’s how I wound up at A Cloud Guru / Pluralsight! The best thing about working here is I get to help people — my original goal — while getting to play in the AWS Land I’ve loved ever since I decided I wanted to know more about “that cloud thing.”
The road to tech is not always paved
If someone tells you there’s one way to get into the tech field, they’re wrong — there’s several, and not all of them are well traveled. In fact, you can blaze your own trail into tech, one that can be completely unorthodox.
I had the pleasure of spending time with some great students recently at AWS re:Invent, and their stories are all very different. I’m going to share them to show you that what I’m saying is not just to make you feel warm and toasty inside (though that’s a bonus) but to assure you that, yes, I speak the truth!
Story #1: William Bryant Jr
I caught William as he was strolling away from the Expo Hall at re:Invent. Luckily, he stopped by to say hi to the ACG group, or I would’ve missed the opportunity to meet him!
This gentleman has been a student of ours for at least 4 years. He is currently a Cloud Infrastructure Finance Manager (say that five times fast) and regularly uses ACG to stay on top of using the platform to better help his partners. His journey began in search of a tech position and took him to college where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS). He continued on that path and obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).
Story #2: Estevan Pequeno
The man, the myth, the legend! Estevan is a Cloud Solution Architect who has been a fan of ACG from the beginning when the Kroonenburg brothers had just started, so he’s seen all the growth over time. He’s always been interested in internet technologies, specifically the way the internet allows people to find community, express themselves, and share knowledge.
Estevan’s journey began by learning basic front-end tech with basic html and css sites for fun. This grew into learning how to host sites himself by running Apache on Linux machines. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and in 2011, gained an AAS in Advanced Cisco Networking Technologies.
Story #3: Noreen Hasan
Let’s take a look at Noreen. She also pursued tech from the beginning and intended to build educational software. She started her cloud journey four and a half years ago with a data engineering bootcamp specializing in Python and AWS services.
Fast forward to today, and she is currently an AWS Training Architect here at ACG! Her unshakable growth mindset has led her from testing the stretch of technology to teaching and helping others grow as technologists. We’ll talk more about Noreen in a bit.
Story #3: Nick Hendrix
Last, but most certainly not least, Nick Hendrix, a Lead Cloud Security Engineer obtained his Associate of Arts in Philosophy and started using ACG in 2017. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t learning tech waaaaay before that. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems in 2013. He has had several tech opportunities pop up and loves getting to work on cutting edge problems. He dove into his AWS certifications in 2017.
So what’s the common factor?
We all have different stories of how we ended up where we are today and we all experienced our own challenges. The common denominator I see between us all is that we push to learn more all the time. We don’t let those challenges get us down. We overcome them the best way we can.
Some words of wisdom from these fine people
Advice from these esteemed colleagues is the absolute cream of the crop, and if you are just starting your cloud journey — or maybe you’ve hit a challenge that you are struggling with — let their words help you.
“Don’t worry about figuring it all out at once. Focus on tackling the next lesson, then the next lab, followed by the next course. When you start feeling comfortable pursue a certification. After the first certification, don’t expect a big aha moment where cloud computing suddenly clicks, just celebrate the achievement and identify the next challenge. This will enable you to build a healthy learning path where learning becomes part of your habitual rituals. And if you get doubts or feel like your goals are far fetched, remind yourself that even the most advanced guru got there one lesson at a time.”
– Noorin Hasan
“Focus on your craft. Regardless of your current skills, there’s always room to improve. Don’t be afraid to learn something new… Networking is also key. You can also get involved by participating in various open source projects or just attending your local tech meetups. This is a great way to get first hand learning experience, showcase your talents, as well as interact with a lot of cool people from the industry. “
– William Bryant JR
“Have an open mind and try to get a broad understanding of the field. There are so many areas where a person could specialize. It can be hard to even know what’s out there. Whether it’s operations, security, infrastructure, automation or countless other domains, someone new to the field should learn a little about as much as they can to see what really piques their curiosity and will motivate them to deep dive into. Try to find mentors who can help develop your skills in that area and follow your curiosity.”
– Estevan Pequeno
“Tech is a team sport, so surround yourself with a team that wants to build you up rather than knock you down. Never stop being curious. Always be on the lookout for ways to work smarter rather than harder.”
– Nick Hendrix
All of the above is great advice, so here’s a little bit of my own: there is no right way to navigate the tech field. It is so vast and touches everything all over the world. Networking will help you find your niche and will start filling your support system with mentors and sanity checkers.
Never stop learning. When you get stuck and feel like giving up on it all together, remember: deep breaths, baby steps, and keep being awesome.