Circumstances drive you to different choices in life. I saw my current career path becoming a bit less future proof day by day. I noticed the sales going down, commissions less year over year. This trend got me thinking, I knew it was time for a reinvention.
I started researching what I could do based off of my current skill set. Granted that was mostly retail sales and Management. I was a bit nervous to even attempt a change. I didn’t know what I qualified for, I figured all experience I had was useless and I was starting from step one.
First piece of advice I would say to my past self, all experience is experience, it is how you tie it all together. I don’t mean that in a gimmicky, I passed one math test now I should be head of a Data Analytics Team. It really comes down to the items you can cross to a new career. Just to get this cliche out of the way early, most all if not all roles have some form of sales, you have to sell your ability, your ideas, sell to get buy in, those you support even if not external clients are your customers.
But I did some research, found a few pathways that met the life I was after. Obviously, salary does bring many levels of comfort so that was a factor, but for me, even more important was the ability to work remotely. I knew that freedom and the chance to see the world was even more important. Turns out that the Cloud Industry can help solve those requirements and more.
I figured it would be good share some of the things I used to get started. It is a fast changing, dynamic world, but I can tell you, it is worth it.
Quick Note – I am not being sponsored, paid, bribed, etc. for any resources referenced in this post. These are some of the items I used to start the journey.
Technical Resources to Get Started
I know this is somewhat of a can of worms but just for the sake of brevity and to save everyone from being overwhelmed, I am mainly going to stick to the three major Public Clouds, AWS, Azure, and GCP.
As mentioned, I was starting from scratch. I felt I had the wrong technical experience, the wrong timing, and on and on. I initially heard about a small site called A Cloud Guru created by two brothers who wanted to get people into the Cloud world. They started small with 3 courses at $20 a piece. I wanted to get started so I paid for the AWS Solution Architect Associate. As expected, this was a rough start. I decided any concept I didn’t understand I would pause and research via wikipedia or Youtube etc.
Getting through that course and certified took some time but it was key in the growth of my career. I spent hours learning and it did after a few months begin to click. Another course that really stuck out and put me over to clearing the Architect exam was the course by Stephane Maarek hosted on Udemy. His approach and style really complemented my learning model and gave me a different perspective on the material.
Times have definitely changed. A Cloud Guru has grown to be a behemoth in the Cloud Learning industry, Stephane Maarek has continued publishing successful courses as well as started successful startups. A Cloud Guru has added so many paths that can get you started.
The three major providers have also started entry level certification paths. These are all great ways to get going.
Practical Business Resources to Get Started
One thing I want to say right up front and stand by. The Technical parts of Cloud definitely get things into production, but understanding the business reasons and most importantly, the art of the possible, is just as important. It takes all kinds of roles to make a business function. I have found that being technical enough to know what changes can be made and coming up with those ideas is incredibly important. Being able to translate those concepts from Technical language to Return on Investment or value is a huge benefit.
To understand what many companies are going through I found 4 books that helped grasp both the tech and the business function.
The Phoenix Project was one I started with. This book speaks in pretty digestible language the challenges that companies are facing. The world moves way too fast and demands can be high at times. This book helped me look at how to work in ways that helped me buy in to the whole “work smarter, not harder” mantra. So much work can be seen as part of process that doesn’t make sense, “that’s the way we have always done it” vibes. Utilizing Cloud Tech and business acumen can change the whole outcome of a company.
I found one author in particular who I follow to this day. Mark Schwartz wrote 3 books that I highly recommend. “The Art of Business Value”, “A Seat at the Table”, and “War and Peace and IT.” The combination of these three books propelled my way of thinking surrounding business. Read these with how you can see improvements in your current gig or past roles, or even in companies you utilize.
There are others, but these 4 books really influenced my Business acumen journey.
Supplemental and Learning Model Shift Material
With our business and technical path started I found that my mind would sometimes become overloaded with one way or style of learning. Personally, switching up my intake methods really cements concepts and helps me utilize the current track.
Sometimes my mind responds great with reading, other times I need to be building something in a Cloud Console, or reading through technical documentation. A pattern that I use is if I am focusing on one aspect of the technology I take it through a lifecycle. An Example would be Google Cloud’s Data Warehouse Solution, BigQuery.
I have watched the courses, I have read the documentation, I have built a couple things, but I might need more context. That is when I turn to Customer Use Cases sites on the provider site or I Youtube videos from conferences. These examples of how companies are using the technology helps me solidify the business reasons and uses. That can help me get through a learning plateau. I chose use cases from companies I use in my daily life and obviously the technology that I am learning. Seeing those companies I am familiar with really links it all together as I see how they are adopting the tech.
Mentoring and Networking
This one I do find as key. There are many different ways to meet others in the industry or even to get some questions asked. Most of the learning platforms have the ability to join the message forums to talk through direct concepts on the lessons. Another way to get things going is to join some of the events that the providers have on their site. So much content is now available, and some even for free to get started. Google Cloud in particular will allow you to go through most of their certification paths for free. It is a great spot to get moving.
I also recommend looking for a Mentor. CanIWorkFromHere has another set of posts dedicated to the importance of having a Mentor and what to look for when you search. I found that having someone to check in with, get advice or training from also makes a giant difference. Mentors can be Technical, or help with Business, or get you to the next step.
I really did think that I was unable to get to where I wanted. I also know there are many, many, different paths that can be taken to achieve Remote Work freedom. I also know there are many other resources out there. I can say these all helped transform me to understand the Technology and the Business sides of the Industry. Here are the items referenced. I wish you the best in getting to where you want to be.
See You Around
Technical Training – A Cloud Guru – All Platforms
Stephane Maarek – AWS
Beginning Certs – AWS Cloud Practitioner
Business Acumen – Reading List
Supplemental Items – YouTube – Google Next Customer Use Cases
AWS Re:Invent Customer Use Cases
Microsoft Ignite Customer Use Cases