Learning AWS in 2020: Pick something Fun, Do Your Best, Forget the Rest.

Had mid-year performance reviews at work recently and it reminded me how, yet again, what I specialize in has changed in the past 4 years, specifically in Cloud Engineering in AWS. At work you fill out what you want to accomplish in the next 6 months personal growth & career wise. Your manager reviews & confirms/denies/suggests differences. You accept/reject/suggest changes, until you both agree on a path forward. Think like a video game skill tree and you pick a few branches and boxes you want to work towards.

Mine have traditionally been pretty easy here at Capital One compared to Accenture. I know 90% of what tech I want to learn or get better at, what leadership skills I need to learn/get better at, I don’t have to do any management stuff, & I continually receive training + seek it out for influence/communication.

Interesting thing happened about 4 years ago; AWS started releasing so many new things, you couldn’t learn “all of AWS”. Meaning: have experience using it, releasing too prod, & supporting it over time. This results in the new tech I choose to be pretty specific to either my current project(s), desire, or just what I’m good at. Yes, plenty of out of comfort zone stuff, but growing my strengths is fun.

To “learn AWS”, those days are over. Instead, pick an area that interests you, and you’ll naturally reach across stacks to get experience in more common services. Don’t stress “learning all the things”. Serverless? Lambda & Step Functions using a dynamic language like Python or JavaScript. Data Science? SageMaker & EMR using Pandas, Numpy, and Tensorslow. High TPS distributed architectures? EC2 and EKS with something like Zio & Scala or Elixir while having fun learning CAP Theorem. You’ll naturally use things like S3 and SNS that are cross cutting. It is overwhelming, but don’t stress it, pick what’s fun! They constantly update things too, so you never get bored.