Before starting at Zuto in November 2020, I had used Amazon Web Services once. But here I am, six months later, studying for my Associate Developer certification and selected for the AWS Community Builder program.
My first AWS experience
My journey with AWS got off to a false start back in 2019. I had signed up for an Amazon sponsered hackathon which was being hosted by Code Nation in Manchester. I had no idea what to expect as I'd only been coding for a couple of months by this point.
We were told that one of the goals of the hackathon was to program an Alexa.
Now, I didn't even own an Alexa. Never mind not having any idea how to program one. But over the course of the weekend, the mentors introduced the team to AWS.
We did end up being awarded second place and although we didn't manage to get Alexa to respond to our commands, I did have one phrase stick in my head: lambda functions.
Fast forward a little over a year and I started my new role at Zuto. That's when I got my first experinece of working with AWS in a professional setting. Despite the niggling doubt in my mind from my first experience with AWS, I was fortunate that one of the Principle Developers at Zuto led an introduction to AWS course.
This course comprised of:
- Session 1: Introduction to Cloud Computing
There were three junior developers in this first session, and it was focused on giving us an overall introduction. Covering topics like cloud computing (besides the memes pointing out that it is just someone else’s computer), Infrastructure As A Service and the standard resources available on the cloud. Due to lockdown, it was hosted virtually over Teams – though admittedly, I had to also cope with terrible wi-fi!
What did we do? We were shown how to install and check which version of the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI) we installed. We were shown how to configure an S3 bucket or object. And the most important part: the monthly cost calculator, which enabled us to work out the costs of any requirements we might have when using AWS.
- Session 2: Terraform and Deployment
The second session gathered more interest as it was an introduction to Terraform and deployment. This time around, there were several other developers and colleagues who joined wanting to understand this topic better.
As the experience levels were more varied than the previous session, we could benefit from hearing questions from other people and even solutions.
Due to the topic and amount of people taking part, I found the session moved a lot quicker than the previous one. However, a GitHub repository contained katas that we could work on and notes for each great section.
And if nothing else, I will also remember the most important command: terraform destroy.
Continuing to work with AWS
As more people have been recruited to work at Zuto, and the AWS training plan is sorted out going forward, I've been able to continue learning while working on tickets with my squad. As I knew it was one of my weakest areas, I set my quarterly PDP goals as "continue learning AWS".
That's when the Tech Lead suggested that I should research the AWS certifications. I had seen these on LinkedIn but I had never considered it would be something I would do. But we agreed that it would be a good target for me to focus on that quarter so I have been studing towards the Associate Developer certification.
Applying to become an AWS Community Builder
The goal must have been what I needed as I found myself applying to the AWS Community Builder program after seeing it shared on Twitter. I knew it would be competitive as it took into account technical writing skills such as blog posts, social media presence and AWS knowledge.
But two months later I got the email confirming that I was one of the 26% who had been selected for the program!
My resources for learning about AWS
- AWS documentation - this is where you will find the main resources. These have been split down into the individual areas of AWS which makes it easier to navigate.
- PluralSight Certification Pathway - if you have a subscription, I have found the tutorials and courses included in this pathway to be invaluable as it really breaks things down.
- AWS Training and Certification - like the documentation this will give you the training materials that Amazon has set up.
- AWS Youtube - AWS also has a YouTube channel for anyone who prefers watching rather than reading!
- Udemy AWS Courses - while I haven't personally used Udemy for my learning, I have heard positive feedback from people who have used these courses.
- LinkedIn Learning AWS - for anyone who has access to LinkedIn Premium there are also the LinkedIn Learning resources which are available.
- AWS Free Tier - my main advice to anyone wanting to learn though is to sign up for their own account. I've found it really helpful to be able to put what I am learning into practice. Just remember to delete everything once you're done and to set up monthly cost budgets to avoid any charges.