How I got multiple cloud certifications in 9 months

Aydar joined EPAM Anywhere as a DevOps engineer a year and a half ago, and during this time he passed several certification programs, was on the bench for some time, changed two projects, and now works in two project teams.

Aydar aspires to become a cloud expert, so he spends a lot of time learning about AWS, Azure and GCP services. Now Aydar is already one of the most certified EPAM professionals.

A simple motivating story with helpful links.

Why cloud technology?

You joined EPAM Anywhere as a DevOps engineer. Why did you decide to develop in cloud technologies?

Like many colleagues in my field, I started my IT career as a sysadmin and then gradually moved on to DevOps methodologies.

While working on one of the previous projects, I became interested in cloud technologies and took up self-education. I realized that learning about cloud technology and all the related services could be the right next step for my career. And this expertise, I think, will be in demand in the IT industry for a long time to come. So I tried to use every opportunity to dive deeply into the cloud.

When I joined EPAM AnywhereI had a little cloud experience and a few certifications in my portfolio on the one hand, and a strong professional drive to become a cloud expert on the other.

First steps in the cloud

The first platform I studied was Amazon Web Services… It was the main cloud provider in the market at the time. When I started working with him, I found that my practical skills were not enough to implement even simple functions, since my knowledge was mostly theoretical. However, I gradually improved my skills by doing large projects. My rule is not to give up and keep trying, because building a career in IT is always about continuous learning and collaboration.

You received some of the certificates yourself, and the rest through EPAM Global Certification, right?

Yes, that is right. I assumed that one certificate is just the starting point of a long journey. Education never ends, no matter the subject. All industries, especially information technology, are developing; therefore, every IT professional can constantly grow and improve his knowledge to meet market expectations and be in demand. The sooner you realize this, the better. More experienced colleagues inspired me to move on and devote more time to self-education.

As a result, I passed the AWS Cloud Practitioner and AWS Developer (Associate) certification before working at EPAM, then, while at EPAM, I successfully passed the exam for AWS DevOps Engineer (Professional).

In addition to the AWS Certification Program, I attended the Certification Program Microsoft Azure for EPAM employees and passed four certifications: Azure Fundamentals; Azure Developer (Associate) and after a short break Azure Solutions Architect (Azure Solutions Architect Expert). I recently became certified to Azure Data Scientist Associate.

From AWS and Microsoft Azure certifications to Google Cloud

Why did you decide to get certified by Google Cloud?

There were several reasons for this. I had a desire to get on a project with cloud technologies and develop professionally in this stack. For some time I was on the bench and looked for new projects, I looked through open vacancies in EPAM and realized that my experience in cloud technologies would help me get a new role on the project.

Then I read a success story about our colleague who received a number of professional certifications Gcp, thanks to which I got to a new interesting project. I think this was the impetus for me, I applied for another GCP certification and got the certificate GCP Cloud Engineer (Associate).

But this is not the end of the story. Since I was on the “self-education” wave, I also decided to learn Kubernetes and finally passed the exam for Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD)

How many certificates are in your portfolio now?

Nine completed programs, but I am continuing my studies.

What do you think is the most difficult part of the certification process and how do you deal with it?

First, it is important to understand the process: where to start preparing, what are the steps, what are the timelines for each step, what learning resources should be explored, and so on. The organizational part is a very important aspect, as you will have to manage your personal schedule and plan your workload according to it.

I was lucky as I participated in a very useful GCP certification session with our colleagues at EPAM and I knew some of the nuances of the process. For example, I knew that before the exam I needed to take certain courses on Coursera, then go through the internal training program, and only then go to the main stage of preparation.

So, one of my life hacks is to communicate with colleagues and not underestimate the professional community. There are special groups where you can ask any questions that arise, share your ideas or initiate discussions on a topic of interest.

EPAM also has the option of joining in-house mentoring programs that provide all the necessary resources to prepare for the exam (study materials, helpful links, and case studies). I would also encourage you to join additional online sessions led by mentors to get more professional ideas and advice.

Success Secrets: Key Principles to Help You Get the Certification You Want

You are a certification guru and a professional motivator for many colleagues. What’s your secret? How to manage your work time to balance project and non-project activities?

Time management and planning skills are critical and not as difficult as you might think. Anyone can handle this. Start with strategic planning and then calibrate your steps. The rule is simple: if you do not set goals and do not strive to achieve them, you risk spending months or even years on secondary tasks.

It is also very beneficial to “match” the rhythm of the program in which you are participating. For example, at one time it took me 9 months to complete my Azure, GCP and Kubernetes certification programs – I took exams every six weeks.

To summarize, we can say that successfully passing a certification exam consists of three components, regardless of the subject:

  • Motivation based on an understanding of the benefits that certification will bring to professional growth.

  • A well thought-out strategic plan for the development of your career for the coming period: 5 years, 3 years, 1 year or less.

  • A preparation plan (preferably developed in advance) and a timetable for precise steps in the short term. This is really important if you need to do multiple tasks in parallel.

For example, there were only 4 weeks of preparation for the Azure exam. Accordingly, I divided my work week into hours that I could devote to preparation. I usually had two hours a day before and after working on a project, plus a few hours on weekends. Sometimes I even studied during working hours if I had no urgent tasks.

For those who still have doubts about where to start learning cloud technologies, I would recommend starting with the basic principles of working with the cloud, which describe what the cloud is and the key principles of working with it. Then you can decide which cloud suits your ambition best.

Move forward and never stop on the way to your dream!

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