AWS Training and Certification Blog

ITSkills4U learner story: Resilience in action

As the mother of four girls ranging in age from four to 13, Anna Prorok embodies resilience and determination. A successful IT professional with a master’s degree in applied mathematics, Anna put her career on pause after her family moved from Kyiv to a small town near Stuttgart, Germany in 2015. As her youngest daughter prepared for kindergarten, Anna began thinking again about re-entering the workforce. But the outbreak of the war in her home country of Ukraine in February 2022 interrupted her plans, both emotionally and practically. “It was awful. My parents were in Kyiv, and my brother actually lived near Bucha, a town where heavy battles took place. They didn’t have electricity or even food for a week. We worried about them constantly.”

Anna Prorok, graduate of ITSkills4U

Anna’s frustration and worry quickly sparked a determination to do whatever she could to help. She and her husband spearheaded a local effort to collect and send basic humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine, to Ukraine. “The kindness of the German people was stunning. They were incredibly generous with their money and time, and we had so many donations. We loaded up a few cars, and my husband and a friend drove everything to the border.”

As refugees started arriving in Germany, Anna worked to help them establish themselves – eventually assisting twenty-five separate families, including her brother’s, to settle down and find housing. She also volunteered at the local primary school, teaching German to Ukrainian children to help ease their transition to life in Germany.

When she was finally able to come up for air, Anna began thinking again about her career. She’d been keeping her skills up to date during the years she focused on raising her young children, but she knew reentering the workforce after a decade-long hiatus would pose challenges. While searching for remote work opportunities on Telegram, she discovered the ITSkills4U program and quickly enrolled in the course preparing for AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. Her participation in the program, and her ultimate certification, were both factors in helping her land a part-time job as a data analyst in December 2022. “I was able to start applying the skills I’d learned right away actually, which was kind of a surprise. My director was pretty impressed.”

Anna also joined a webinar for ITSkills4U learners delivered by Salesforce and Deloitte, and signed up to participate in their training too. As one of the 26 ITSkills4U graduates, she was selected for the Wave training for Ukrainians, a program run thanks to Salesforce and Deloitte talent alliance. She went on to learn the basics of most popular CRM platform and its applications, and eventually earned her Salesforce Certified Associate certification.

Anna is now focused on completing her AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, and her goal is to find a full-time role that will reignite her career as an IT professional. Juggling her commitments between professional growth, family, and volunteering is no small feat. But Anna shrugs it off with a laugh. “I don’t know sometimes how I balance it all. But if you want to learn, you have to find time. Learning is a way of riding the wave and not falling behind. I’d encourage Ukrainians who can do so to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Developed by AWS, ITSkills4U is a free, cloud computing workforce development program for Ukrainians. The comprehensive program offers self-paced learning, AWS instructor-led training, exam preparation, language classes, and career support services. With a diverse enrollment of IT professionals, individuals with some experience, and those with no IT background, the program has garnered support from the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and the Polish Government. More than 40 AWS customers and AWS Partners serve as ITSkills4U employment partners, and ITSkills4U works alongside education institutions, AWS Training Partners, and AWS re/Start collaborating organizations to deliver the curriculum. The program is funded by AWS with contributions from donors, and led in partnership with Polish NGO ZPP. Learn more.