I can still kinda, sorta remember the day….the day when, many years ago, I passed the A+ certification exam. Honestly, I “lucked out” in how I got into IT in the first place.
I went to UNC-Charlotte (back when there was no football team), finally settling on Marketing as my major because I was sure Engineering or Computer Science was too hard. While at UNCC, I had an internship with A.G. Edwards and I was certain that stock brokering was for me until I was told to cold call a list of former and perspective clients:
ME: “Hello Mrs. Jones, I’m David with A.G. Edwards and it’s been awhile since we’ve talked to you and Mr. Jones. I hope you and Mr. Jones are doing well.”
MRS. JONES: “Mr. Jones is dead….thanks for ripping my heart to shreds and reminding me of the most painful experience of my life you horrible man!” (She didn’t say all that but Mr. Jones was dead.)
ME: “Hello Mr. Smith, I’m David with A.G. Edwards and….”
MR. SMITH “I don’t know any A.G. Edwards. Are you trying to sell me something young man! Take me off your list!”
That day was probably my worst day in college. I learned that people didn’t simply throw their money at stockbrokers and as such sales/cold calling was a necessary part of the job. At this time of my life, I wasn’t a “I’ll take on every challenge” personality type so I left the A.G. Edwards internship to keep from wasting anybody’s time. I was lost, in effect, in that I did not know what I wanted to do anymore after college.
After I graduated UNCC, I got a job tracking inventory in a textile factory. The man who held the position before me, used notepads to tracks goods through the plant but I ended up creating a spreadsheet to track the inventory on the circa 1990 computer sitting at my desk. This spreadsheet impressed the plant manager so much that when he fired me (because we weren’t selling many textiles) he did so knowing he’d get me a computer support job.
Back to the A+….I took that exam thinking that if I passed it, there may well be a future for me in the IT world. I passed and I was thrilled and I felt as though my professional path was now laid out before me….I was now, officially, an “IT guy”!
As you well know, there are so many changes taking place within the IT field today. It can be difficult to wrap your mind around them all….so many vendors, so many products, so many deployment options, etc. I had been thinking of myself as the old dog unable to learn new tricks, or like NFL running back who once dominated (thought I never “dominated” IT) the league and wakes up to find that he’s lost his edge, his speed, his step, and his performance decreases dramatically and he’s cut with little or no fanfare. Could the equivalent of this happen to me?
I wrote all that to say I experienced that same giddy certification feeling about a week ago when I passed the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. It felt good to know, that in some measure, I can learn new things, that I can keep my “IT guy” membership card.
If you are interested in passing this exam, let me recommend the following:
- Purchase the A Cloud Guru Certified Solutions Architect course. I can’t recommend it highly enough! You can take it at your leisure, the training videos are informative yet compact in regards to time, and the hands-on labs touch all the technologies relevant to the SA exam.
- I registered for and took an AWS training class via the AWS Training and Certification portal. Granted, there will be a charge for this course but fortunately for me, my employer paid that fee. I completed the A Cloud Guru course prior to the AWS Training and found myself to be one of the “smart” students (finally) in that I could answer most of the questions the instructor asked of the class participants. In my opinion, the A Cloud Guru training was more throughout and had better labs, but the AWS class did serve to reinforce what I had already learned.
- I purchased the A Cloud Guru course from udemy.com. I say that simply to say I used the UDemy app on my phone to listen to the lectures as I ran or drove around in my car. Yes, at some points I kinda phased out but for me, the more I heard, the more I retained.
- I also used the Android app AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate from Magic Bytes. Personally, I found flash cards and practice exam questions beneficial.
- I started using AWS EC2 and S3 buckets for personal use cases. I’ve already shared on this blog how I use EC2 instances with elastic GPUs for Photoshop editing. You’ll get into the AWS interface a lot if you go through the A Cloud Guru and/or AWS training….don’t leave, spend time inside the AWS console. Do you use VMware Workstation on your laptop at all? I do, but if possible, I’m switching over to using AWS instances to keep my local disk as free and clean as possible. I suggest you do the same.
- I’m not a database administrator at all so knowing that I spent extra time going over the AWS database offerings. I’m glad I did as I believe this helped me on the exam, however, knowing what I know now, I would have spent more time reviewing IAM and AutoScaling.
- Follow @awscloud and @awssupport on twitter….sure there could be a lot of tweets but you may catch a nugget or two here and there that helps to reinforce what you are learning
- Finally, I suggest subscribing to the Last Week in AWS newsletter put out by Corey Quinn. It may not have any direct implications on the exam, but do it to immerse yourself in the AWS universe.
I hope this helps and good luck!