Trying to sit a cloud certification examination, or attempting to get your staff to take one? On this article, Evanna Kearins shares how she did each. Right here’s how she and her staff efficiently took the AWS Licensed Cloud Practitioner examination – and the close to catastrophe that nearly turned her cloud aspirations into nothing however vapor.
Ever hear that outdated idiom, “standing within the different particular person’s sneakers?” Lately, the CEO of Pluralsight, Aaron Skonnard, requested me if I’d do exactly that. It seems he didn’t imply attempting out a brand new pair of sneakers – although that has occurred – however as a substitute if my staff and I’d take the AWS Licensed Cloud Practitioner (CCP).
What higher strategy to see issues from our learner’s perspective?
“That is going to be a chunk of cake,” I assumed.
Setting the staff (and myself) up
One of many first issues we did was discover a sponsor – somebody who had taken the examination earlier than, and will reply any questions we had. We additionally arrange a Slack channel for the staff. As soon as every week, our sponsor posted prep supplies for us to take a look at – movies to observe, quizzes to take, or hands-on labs.
However the channel was greater than that. It was a spot to maintain the staff motivated as we pushed collectively for certification, and to share our wins (and struggles).
Discovering the time to review the CCP
I didn’t need my staff and I to be finding out over a protracted time frame, so we might go into the examination with every part recent in our minds. There’s nothing worse than struggling to recollect a lesson from months in the past!
We began on the finish of June, because the summer season months are a bit quieter in Europe (or so we thought). We set the objective to develop into licensed by the tip of September
As a result of I needed to finish my examine earlier than the company-wide break – a bit before my staff – it’s truthful to say I grew to become obsessive about finding out cloud tech.
Completed a gathering early? Cloud. Early morning break? Cloud. Working late? Cloud.
I discovered it essential to have a look at my week, and assume “The place can I think about cloud studying?” Even when it’s fifteen minutes right here and there, all of it provides up, so I marked it as examine time in my calendar.
Two to 3 hours of examine every week was a very good benchmark, and never an enormous period of time. Since Pluralsight has a “Work on it Wednesday” interval that can be utilized to compensate for duties, I used two hours of that for examine, and located an additional hour both early within the morning or later within the night.
I discovered it was essential to carve out that examine time for cloud coaching, and hold it sacred. If somebody tried to schedule over it, I’d push again, and check out to not make exceptions until it was completely vital. Not solely did I do that myself, however I allowed my staff to do the identical.
How tough is the AWS Cloud Practitioner?
Out of the eleven certificates AWS has on provide, the Licensed Cloud Practitioner is the best to get and put in your wall. In fact, there’s a distinction between best and simple.
After I kicked off, I used to be shocked by how a lot there was to not solely be taught, however memorize. Regardless of which manner you go about it, once you’re new to AWS, there’s lots of phrases to pack in your mind.
“How does anybody keep in mind all of those phrases?”
My head was so filled with every part cloud, steam was popping out of my ears. I used to be mixing phrases up and getting annoyed. There have been so many core AWS companies to maintain monitor of.
So, what did I do? I took notes. A lot of notes.
Not solely did this give me one thing to refer again to, however the act of writing one thing down helped me keep in mind it. I additionally used mnemonics – If I used to be attempting to recollect a time period like AWS Kinesis, I’d have one other phrase to affiliate it with to assist me recollect it.
Whereas I used to be finding out, I made certain to inform the staff on Slack the place I used to be at, recommendation like “issues get a bit more durable right here, but it surely will get simpler after that, so grasp in there.” On the similar time, I reached out to our sponsor if I used to be combating a job.
As soon as I completed the prep course, I did various apply exams each on A Cloud Guru and Pluralsight. All of this turned out to be the straightforward half in comparison with the close to catastrophe of the examination (which I’ll get into later). The apply exams are key to success in the true examination!
Why examine the AWS Cloud Practitioner?
With all this examine, it’s possible you’ll ask your self “Why am I doing this once more?” In case you’re not planning a profession in cloud computing – and simply wish to be taught the basics – it may possibly really feel prefer it’s going right into a degree of element you are not going to make use of in your on a regular basis life.
Bear in mind once you discovered math in school? For most individuals, these trigonometric capabilities and algebraic equations are a factor of the previous – one thing individuals proudly proclaim “I by no means wound up utilizing any of that in the true world!”
However what these individuals miss is it was by no means concerning the little particulars, however the greater image. With math, it was about drawback fixing. With CCP, it’s opening your eyes to cloud know-how and what’s on the market.
And that’s fairly essential, as a result of what enterprise doesn’t use cloud computing today, from storage to software program apps? And for many who are planning a profession in cloud, the advantages of studying about AWS – essentially the most used cloud computing service – is clear.
As a staff chief, cloud computing coaching was additionally a wonderful staff constructing train. I instructed my staff we’re going to have a celebration on the finish, whether or not you cross or fail it – to acknowledge the time it took, how exhausting it was, and the way we will be pleased with what we have performed.
After which, if all that wasn’t sufficient, taking the CCP allow us to put on the sneakers of our Pluralsight learners for some time and perceive first hand the challenges they face. For us, that was essentially the most invaluable half.
The CCP examination (and a cautionary story)
With tons of examine beneath my belt, I used to be filled with confidence going into the CCP examination.
“In any case this prep, taking the take a look at would be the straightforward half!”
Boy, was I improper.
Whenever you sit the examination, you might have the choice to go to an examination heart, or take it at house. I opted for the latter, since there was nowhere shut for me to go.
However there was one snag: to take the take a look at, you could have a quick web. On the day of the examination, you’ve received to obtain your stuff and take a look at your surroundings – and also you’re not allowed to start out till half-hour earlier than the examination begins.
So, proper on the 30 minute dot, I kicked issues off. That’s when the pc instructed me to shut two capabilities.
Little drawback, although: these capabilities have been closed.
My state of calm evaporated like a block of ice within the desert
At this level, I known as my husband, who is kind of technical.
“You’re proper, these capabilities aren’t open. You’re going to must shut down and restart.”
All of the whereas, the examination begin time was creeping up. By the point the problem was resolved, I then wanted to select up my laptop computer and stroll across the room to point out the proctors that I wasn’t hiding something or anybody beneath my desk, and there have been no solutions scrawled on my arms.
It was ten minutes into the examination time earlier than I really received to start out it.
That is the worst-case situation of going into an examination. I managed to calm myself down by telling myself that I had a great deal of time – I had performed apply exams earlier than, and I’d completed them with half-hour to spare. Doing these trial exams actually helped.
After that trial by fireplace, I moved by way of the questions, marking down something I wasn’t not sure of and coming again to it. Lastly, I received by way of all of the questions, and submitted my work. In contrast to many exams, inside two minutes, I’d know if I handed.
In that second, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment – and I knew these 4 weeks of exhausting work have been value it. Now, it was only a query of creating certain my staff made it by way of as effectively.
However for those who’re going to sit down the AWS Licensed Cloud Practitioner, right here’s my recommendation: In case you can, save your self lots of stress and simply go to an examination heart.
The right way to get your staff to take the CCP examination
Listed here are among the methods I guided my staff to take the AWS Licensed Cloud Practitioner, however the following pointers will work for different related certifications.
1. Watch and encourage
Within the Pluralsight portal, you possibly can see the place the staff is at and the way they’re progressing by way of the examine supplies. Some individuals might need completed all their examine supplies, however not taken the examination, so the query turns into what the barrier is. Others is likely to be solely a 3rd of the best way by way of. How will you inspire them to maneuver ahead?
Crucial factor I discovered is to not push too exhausting, as a result of it will flip individuals off the staff coaching and get them careworn. It is advisable gently encourage them: “We set out on the street collectively, so let’s all end this collectively.”
2. Take the certification your self
This can be a basic case of training what you preach. If individuals see the way you took the examination, it exhibits that it’s potential, and that you just wouldn’t ask something much less of them than you’d ask of your self.
It’s additionally one other instance of “standing of their sneakers” – I discovered by figuring out what the expertise is like, you possibly can assist information your staff by way of the difficult spots.
3. Set the OKR to taking the examination, not passing it
I let my staff know from the beginning that it actually doesn’t matter in the event that they fail or cross the examination, it’s about finding out and studying. You’ll be able to all the time take the CCP once more. The OKR I set was to not cross the examination, it was to finish the content material and take the examination.
This helps take away the stress of “I have to cross the examination,” and the concept there will probably be adverse penalties in the event that they don’t.
4. Set a line within the sand
I discovered you could set a deadline for when your staff must have taken the examination, even when they take it on totally different days. This manner, the entire thing doesn’t roll on eternally.
This may be difficult, as a result of there can all the time be causes to not take the examination, like “This can be a busy month.” I requested concerning the examination date within the staff conferences to assist hold it as a subject of dialogue, not one other factor to be placed on the backburner.
5. Assist them set examine time (and respect it)
When finding out for the AWS Cloud Practitioner examination, I instructed my staff to make use of the 2 “no assembly” hours I’ve set every week for each worker on our staff, then discover one other spot of their calendar to schedule an extra hour for examine.
I inspired them to push again on anybody who needed them to schedule a gathering in that extra hour, and to “hold it sacred”. In fact, I additionally wanted to respect it myself. Even when there’s exceptions to the rule, you’ve received to strive and ensure they keep that – exceptions!
6. Have fun!
Don’t simply depart your employees to replace their LinkedIn profiles and quietly return to work. Have fun your accomplishments as a staff – simply sitting the examination is a win. In case you’ve received a shared workplace, go in and take them out to lunch (or dinner). In the event that they’re distant, arrange a digital assembly the place they’ll order meals in and share a drink.
In Pluralsight’s Melbourne workplace, they’ve received a devoted house on the wall the place they grasp up a photograph of anybody who passes a cloud examination. They take a snapshot with a polaroid digicam of the employees member, put somewhat AWS or Azure trophy sticker down the underside, and grasp it up!
Not solely is that nice for recognizing worker accomplishments, it lets everybody within the firm know you have a good time and worth studying. By including totally different trophy stickers to the underside for varied certifications, it reinforces this a part of your tradition.