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Cloud journeys: Using IT skills for a cloud computing future

Experts explain how to use existing tech skills and IT skills to tackle cloud computing trends, cloud tools, and transition into a cloud career.

Apr 3, 2024 • 8 Minute Read

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  • Cloud
  • IT Ops
  • Professional Development
  • Learning & Development

Pluralsight is proud to support the growing community of cloud gurus by sponsoring the Cloud Career Journeys book by Prasad Rao and Ashish Prajapati

If you’re considering a cloud career but aren’t quite sure how to get there, you’re in the right place. In this blog series, we take a look at real-life paths into cloud and what you can learn from them to kick-start your cloud career.

We already covered Pathfinders and the Undefeated. Now we’ll focus on the Progressives—people who use their IT skills as a launchpad to enter the cloud. You’ll get insights and advice from three experts to guide your cloud journey: Kesha Williams, Cloud and AI expert and AWS Machine Learning Hero; Sammy Cheung, AWS Ambassador and AWS Champion Authorized Instructor; and Lucy Wang, Founder of Tech with Lucy.

Want to learn more about these cloud experts? Purchase the Cloud Career Journeys book and hear their full stories.

Table of contents

The Progressives: Leveraging technical proficiency to transition to cloud

Progressives lean on prior IT knowledge as stepping stones to the cloud. If you already have strong technical skills and IT knowledge, you might be a Progressive who can use that experience to succeed (and lead) in a cloud computing career.

Advice for Progressives: Balance cloud trends with foundational skills

These tips will help you make the transition from IT to cloud.

Just start learning cloud computing

“Just get started,” emphasizes Lucy. “I get a lot of questions in the comments about, ‘What cloud should I learn? What resources should I use?’ And I think it’s okay to ask yourself those questions initially, but if it’s taking you three months to choose a cloud provider, for example, I would say just get started and enjoy the journey.”

Adds Sammy, “[You’re] never too old, too young, too early, too late. Just start. Then find maybe a simple introduction to cloud computing on A Cloud Guru or Pluralsight. Watch it, and see what you can share with your friend, your dog, your cat, whatever. 

“That will force you to ignite your craving or desire to learn. And once you’re able to learn, naturally, you want to apply. And naturally, once you apply, you want to share the value with people. So that is how you start your cloud computing journey. It’s just like walking—you take the first step.”

Learn cloud fundamentals first

Before you chase the shiny new cloud technology, take the time to build a strong cloud foundation. 

“Make sure you learn the foundations,” says Kesha. “Sometimes when you’re using some of the AWS Services, they do a good job at abstracting away what’s really happening behind the scenes. But if you’re going to have a long career in the cloud, you really need to understand the fundamentals and the foundations of what’s going on behind the scenes. A great place to start is with the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. It really introduces you to the benefits of the cloud and just how it works.”

Get more of Kesha’s insights on cloud careers.

Stay up to date on cloud trends

Cloud computing trends change rapidly. Even if you already have technical skills, you need to adopt a growth mindset and continuously learn to keep your skills current.

“Technology is always advancing. There is always something in technology that can help you to do the job better. . . . Find what is applicable to you or [will be] close to your career in the near future. Learn that topic,” advises Sammy.

“If there’s a new technology that comes out, the best way I learn is by building,” shares Kesha. “And so I try to learn that technology by picking a use case and implementing it. And then I share my lessons with others, which also helps me strengthen my knowledge.”

What cloud trends are technologists most excited about right now? AI and cloud.

“There’s a really cool synergy between how AI is enabling the cloud, like more powerful cloud infrastructure and cloud computing, and also how the cloud is then acting as a force for AI to then develop and scale and [make] that more accessible,” explains Lucy.

Join the cloud community

“In general, there are three types of [cloud] interactions,” explains Sammy. “One’s called consumer, one’s called producer, and the other is called community. 

“Many people go to a forum. Some of them are not in the community. They are a consumer, just getting information. Some of them just produce information. But some of them are doing both. A community is [where] you take information, you share information, [and] you grow. That’s what a cloud community is.

“If you like community builders or other meetups, go there to meet people. And don’t just consume, try to interact. Try to contribute, and then you will be amazed by how much you can get and influence and help others.”

“So many people in the community are eager to help, at no cost, to empower you to be the next cloud guru or next cloud professional,” he adds.

Take care of your mental and physical health

While it’s important to adopt a continuous learning mindset, don’t sacrifice your mental or physical health for it. Sitting in front of a screen for 10 – 12 hours is mentally draining. Take regular breaks to step away and take care of yourself.

Action: Tangible steps to build cloud skills and cloud community

If you’re a Progressive, there are certain actions you can take today to build cloud skills, get familiar with cloud computing tools, and determine your cloud role.

Build a cloud computing portfolio

Potential employers want to see your skills. Certifications are one way to do that, but certs alone usually aren’t enough to land a cloud engineer, developer, or architect role. 

“I think some people make the mistake of just thinking that obtaining a certification is enough to get a job,” explains Kesha. “It’s really important to get that certification, but then also practice what you’ve learned through building up an online portfolio where you can show people what you’ve actually done with the knowledge that you’ve learned.”

Create a GitHub repo, a personal blog, or social media account to document your cloud projects and showcase your skills to prospective employers.

Prepare for cloud career interviews

Interviewing is a critical soft skill that allows you to showcase your technical skills. Practice at least one mock interview and check out courses like Resumes, Job Seeking, and Interviews in Context to get expert advice on the process. 

Technical skills aren’t the only thing prospective employers look for, though. “That continuous learning mindset has really helped me,” shares Kesha. “Also just being able to build relationships, genuine relationships, with other people and being able to work well with all different types of people.” 

Communication skills are also important for engineers to work with business people and communicate value. “Everyone’s communication style is different,” says Sammy. “Maybe you have an accent or different background. So you have to adjust to work with them . . . [and learn] how you’re going to present the idea.”

Watch Sammy’s full interview for more cloud career tips.

Learn and share cloud knowledge

As you learn cloud skills and tools, consider how you would teach them to other learners. This, along with hands-on experience, will improve your retention and deepen your knowledge. If possible, speak at local meetups, write blog posts, conduct workshops, and create online courses to share what you learn.

“It’s important for people who are either thought leaders in the cloud or people who are just along their own cloud journey to document their process of getting there,” says Lucy.

“Because I think oftentimes when people go through that journey, they kind of forget the steps that they took to get there very quickly, or they’re too busy in their jobs working as a cloud engineer or solutions architect to think about the giving back side. But I think cloud community is a cycle of learning cloud, getting a role, and then giving back to others and continuing on that cycle.”

Adjust your learning pace

Cloud is a fast-paced industry, but your learning progress won’t always advance at full speed. It’s okay to adjust your pace as you go. Breeze through topics you find easy and devote more time to complex subjects.

Alerts: Avoid these mistakes to build technical proficiency in cloud

Steer clear of these common mistakes to secure your cloud computing future.

Dismissing new technologies

When cloud was first ramping up, people that managed on-premises data centers thought cloud would be a passing fad. “I think that was the worst piece of advice [I got] because we see where the cloud is and we know where it’s going,” says Kesha. “What I learned from that is just to really not be afraid of some of the newer technologies and really try to become an early adopter.”

Limiting yourself or your cloud journey

Imposter syndrome can slow, or even dismantle, your learning progress. “That self-limiting belief like, ‘Oh, I’m not a very technical person’ or ‘I don’t know much about AI,’ was what . . . would probably be a mistake initially because it kind of hindered my learning towards the start,” shares Lucy. “I was kind of taking it one step at a time, only learning about what I was comfortable with. But I think I could have just explored more.”

Learn more from Lucy’s story.

Creating unstructured cloud learning

When you start learning a new topic, you’ll need some time to uncover what you’re interested in and which learning resources will help you reach your goals. Once you’ve set a goal, avoid learning random topics or changing your skill development platform. Create a structured learning plan to avoid wasting time and effort. 

“Previously, I had a mindset, ‘Hey, this is too far away. I don’t want to even try,’” says Sammy. “Kind of like running. But then I said, ‘Hey, I can go to that lamp post. I can go circle that tree.’ The goal [may be] far away, but set achievable targets close to you.”

Build your cloud computing future

Want to learn more about how Kesha, Sammy, and Lucy transitioned to cloud from IT? Read their stories and get actionable advice in the Cloud Career Journeys book. The book also comes with a free one-month Pluralsight Skills Premium subscription worth $45 to help you build your cloud skills.

If you purchase the ebook or Starter Kit on Gumroad, you’ll receive an exclusive discount.

Explore other cloud career paths:

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