Welcome to our podcast series “From Paper To Offer” where we focus on workforce development and how individuals today position themselves for careers in Information Technology roles.
Industry Certifications, specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Nebula Academy’s focus is on helping people learn about and become a part of the growing industry of Information Technology. We invited Ruchi Kakkad to join our discussion on gaining an Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification. Ruchi is a junior at Virginia Tech University, majoring in Computational Modeling and Data Analytics with a concertation in economics and an actuarial science minor. In this episode, she talks about her recently attained AWS certification and shares insights for those seeking to do the same.
Ruchi’s decision to undertake AWS certification was dependent on several factors. One factor is that her father is in the IT industry and this offered her influence and support that many students typically do not have from family members. Another was learning about AWS at career fairs at her school. “Everyone is using it!” her father exclaimed. “If everyone is using it,” Ruchi said, “then everyone has to know how to do it if they want to be more marketable. So, I knew it would help me stand out from the crowd and I knew it would push me to the next level.”
But let’s say someone does not have connections to people who are in the IT field or any other direct exposure to it? What can she or he do to figure out how to propel in the industry?
Ruchi suggested looking within her/his school (either high school or college) for resources that are available to students. “Most high schools are starting to bring STEM to a whole new level in their curriculum. Colleges have so many clubs and professors who are willing to help you. If you need that support that you can’t get from your parents, just use all of the people, tools and information available to you. They are out there—it might take some searching to find them, but they are there.”
So how did Ruchi accomplish completing her AWS certification?
Ruchi initially planned to attain her AWS Solutions Architect certification through an online AWS course. Due to her internship and limited availability in the summer, and also based on her father’s advice, Ruchi she decided that she still has time to attain a Solutions Architect certification, so she first started pursuing Cloud Practitioner certification to understand the fundamentals. To do this, she used multiple online resources, bought practice exams and received a lot of help from a friend who had already attained his certification on how to study. For the most part, she used online resources and figured out what worked best for her.
What values does Ruchi see in getting certified?
“I want to stand out!” claims Ruchi. “Even when I was little, I was always doing something to make me stand out from the crowd…I knew that if I want to achieve my dream of working for an amazing company on the West Coast, I knew I needed to do this to achieve that dream.”
Ruchi not only gained a certification but also will graduate with a degree, which makes her even more valuable in the IT industry. She even stated she helped her professors to further develop the Computational Modeling and Data Analytics major by giving them feedback to incorporate more of the Cloud in the curriculum, based on her experience from gaining her AWS certification. She’s changed the whole major for incoming freshman at her school, which is awesome!
What is Ruchi’s perspective on being a woman in the tech industry with an AWS certification?
“It feels empowering. Because I got it, I can empower other girls and women to do it. Teaching people and empowering people to be confident to use computing skills and technology has always been a part of me,” Ruchi said. She has also been approached by women on her campus in her major and peer mentors asking her for advice on how to do achieve AWS certification. These women have opened up to her, saying, “I’m a little scared to do it. Only guys are really in this.” Ruchi responded, ‘Don’t be scared. Just do it. It’s going to be so good for you. You’re going to stand out. It’s nothing to be afraid of.” She told us, “Getting a certification boosted my confidence…I was very proud of myself.” She also added, “As women, now you know the answers, you know what you’re talking about, you can prove yourself to them.”
What was the most challenging part of the course for Ruchi?
“The night before the exam, I couldn’t understand one of the concepts from this one practice question… I was spiraling out of control, but my dad sat me down and started drawing everything out and explaining it to me. I was very thankful that I had his input.” But even if Ruchi didn’t have her father helping her, she knew she could go online and find recourses from her courses or hop on to Amazon’s training website. “Don’t panic, just go back online, use your resources. It’s all out there. They’re not trying to hide anything from you. They want you to succeed.”
How will Ruchi be using her certification in her academics and career?
She believes she can bridge the business and technical parts of her career very effectively. “My major allows me to connect the two so I can talk about technology in a business setting and I can talk about business in a technology setting.”
We say, kudos to Ruchi for bridging that gap!
Anything else, Ruchi?
“If you’re thinking about doing it, stop thinking and just do it!”
Nebula Academy is an AWS academy that is not a traditional university; rather, we are a workforce development organization that wants adults to rethink future careers and use AWS as a launching pad for that. We offer virtual and in-person AWS courses for those looking to get certified, from industry expert instructors. We’re excited to bring this value to university and college students, like Ruchi, who want more than just a degree; they want industry certifications. Find out more about our AWS programs at nebulaacademy.com!
Please join us for our next podcast!