Tips for solutions architects to keep skills sharp
In my years working toward becoming an AWS Solutions Architect, I read blog posts and articles, attended meetups, watched online sessions, and attended training courses to learn new skills and knowledge. I studied for and earned my AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional certifications. Today, if you are on the same journey to become an AWS Solutions Architect at AWS or another company, there is an endless supply of training to help you level up your skills.
What happens when you achieve that goal? How do you stay sharp as a solutions architect? The world does not stop developing new technologies, methods, and approaches. In fact, you may need to know more than you ever did before. In this blog post, I cover six ways I keep my skills updated and knowledge sharp in the role of an AWS Solutions Architect.
Build a learning plan with goals.
I maintain a learning plan for myself. Understanding how you learn and where you want to take your skills and career are important. You may be able to read a publication and remember everything the first time, but if you are like me, you may use multiple sources of media and activities to learn and improve your skills. If your plan includes AWS Certification, check out the AWS Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Solutions Architect – Professional learning paths. Each path offers tailored, prescriptive content that prepares you for the certification exam. Already have these two? Challenge yourself to press beyond these certifications, and achieve one or more of the AWS specialty-level certifications, of which there are six.
Follow the daily updates.
One of the first things I do each day is read up on the latest AWS services, solution blog posts, industry updates, and trends. I follow the AWS Blog, What’s New with AWS, and AWS Podcasts for up-to-date news and information. This provides me with an instant snapshot of details that may be relevant to my career and/or my customers. It also helps me identify a follow-up list of new things to learn or areas where I need to dive deeper. Finally, AWS re:Invent 2020 is a free, three-week, virtual event. I will plan to join as many sessions as possible to learn latest AWS service announcements.
Watch event sessions.
Learning on the go has become an essential way I increase my knowledge and consume training. I subscribe to AWS Online Tech Talks and Now Go Build with Werner Vogels, among others, and get notified when a new session is available. Sessions from AWS re:Invent and AWS Summit are available on YouTube on demand for easy reference. I find these invaluable when learning a new skill or understanding a new topic.
Reach out, build connections, and form a network around the topics for which you want to stay current. Basically, learn from others’ successes and failures in their journey. Attending meetups is a great way to meet new professional connections and hear their stories. You may want to share your story, too. Presenting at meetups can help you solidify your learnings and solicit feedback about your points of view. Find relevant groups on meetup.com and start attending virtually. For those located in Melbourne, two of the most popular groups I have attended are AWS Melbourne Meetup and Melbourne Cloud Computing Meetup.
Based on your interests, you may gravitate towards an area of specialization, such as artificial intelligence, big data, or robotics. Sharpen your skills in your chosen field, go deeper in your knowledge, and become a member of a specialist team. AWS offers a number of resources to help you cultivate expertise in your area of specialization, including specialized blogs, ebooks, and case studies.
Be a Builder.
Building a project or a proof of concept is by far the best way to learn. This is how I combine all the content, theory, and approaches from the previous points into a tangible learning and upskilling outcome. AWS provides a number of out-of-the-box solutions, sample code, and the AWS free tier to help get you started with many topics. My frequent points of reference are the AWS Solutions Library, Github repositories (AWS Labs and AWS Samples), and the AWS Architecture Center.
Recently, I learned a new technology using technical documents, online videos, and a new coding language via a Udemy course, which allowed me to complete a proof of concept and develop a deeper understanding of the topic. This was not only a great way to learn, but also gave me a deep sense of satisfaction when my project performed as expected!
At AWS, one of our leadership principles is Learn and Be Curious. It’s something we all live by—and is especially true for AWS Solutions Architect—and my key driver to keep my skills updated and relevant. No matter your role, if you build with AWS services, keeping your skills and knowledge sharp are essential for continued success. If you are not sure where to start growing your skills, I hope this gave you inspiration and a to-do list you are eager to tackle.