Career in the Cloud? Choose a Narrow Specialization and Experiment
The popularity of cloud computing and the high salaries associated with this field have led many IT professionals to broaden their skills with cloud expertise. However, cloud computing is a vast specialization that cannot be fully learned. Which area should one choose? Where should one start learning about the cloud and where can knowledge be acquired?
Is it a market demand or just hype?
Cloud computing has become one of the trendiest career paths in the IT industry in recent years. When it emerged in 2006, professionals had to quickly learn how to operate with completely new paradigms, approach projects differently, and change their way of thinking and building applications. Around 2015, the concept of Cloud Native was born. The early days of cloud computing were challenging in terms of infrastructure and architecture. There was a shortage of experts, and the job market spent several years trying to catch up.
The pandemic has significantly accelerated the development of cloud computing, generating interest among companies and professionals in this area. Cloud computing has become particularly attractive to young businesses whose cloud usage costs scale with the growth of their organizations and needs, without being burdened by significant legislative or sensitive data processing constraints. Many employers are willing to pay more, up to 15-20%, for experts who possess cloud computing skills.
One or Many? Which cloud to start with?
Individual cloud platforms are so extensive that it is impossible to become familiar with all the options offered by a single provider. In the case of Azure, depending on how you count, there are anywhere from 700 to even 3500 different services available. It is absolutely impossible today to be an expert in more than one cloud platform
(and if someone claims otherwise, they are likely only scratching the surface or have knowledge limited to specific areas). This is important because even seemingly identical services behave differently and have their own peculiarities that need to be understood. At the same time, working in multiple rapidly evolving environments will always result in some areas where knowledge is lacking.
If we consider the three main providers: AWS, Azure, and GCP, the choice is not of great significance. So many companies utilize each of them that our professional development will be broad, and the shortage of workers in these areas is similar. The key factor may be the profile of employers that interests us more. For many years, smaller companies, startups, and individual developers leaned towards AWS, while Microsoft’s services are better tailored to the needs of large corporations, and GCP focused on greenfield startups that embrace a cloud-native approach from the first line of code. However, this division is not rigid, and each platform serves a diverse range of clients.
Certificate, Free Course, or Independent Experimentation
It is said that training is done for your current employer, while certification is for future prospects. Pursuing certifications just for the sake of “badges” is senseless; however, they are useful for validating knowledge or advancing professionally. Employers primarily value skills. How can one acquire them?
Starting with free courses is the best approach. It is difficult to find good paid courses for beginners on the market, but there are numerous excellent free knowledge sources tailored for beginners or covering fundamental concepts, such as “Azure for Everyone” by Adam Marczak. After gaining basic knowledge, it is beneficial to create a free account on one of the platforms (for example, utilizing labs on MS Learn) and engage in hands-on experimentation. Paid specialized training can be the third step in learning when solid foundations and logical thinking patterns have been established. This can include courses on Kubernetes (e.g., “Get to Know Kubernetes” by Jakub Gutkowski, Łukasz Kałużny, and Piotr Stapp), Cloud Native, or Data Platform, depending on the desired direction of development. It is also worth considering participation in meetups and conferences, which provide an opportunity to meet more experienced experts and stay up to date with the latest changes. However, throughout the learning process and entire tenure of working with cloud computing, the most crucial and essential aspect is one’s own work and experimentation.
First Job – How to Secure It?
The most challenging part may be passing through the so-called “first sieve,” so it is essential to ensure that new skills are visible. This is where samples of tasks posted on one’s own GitHub repository or certifications come in handy. It is beneficial to validate skills on LinkedIn as well.
During a technical interview, honesty and sharing what one genuinely knows are paramount. Don’t know the answer? Mention where it can be found.
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