Preparing for a Career in Cloud Computing: A Conversation with IBM’s Brian Schuster

As the number of organizations reliant on the evolving cloud market grows, it should come as no surprise that cloud computing was one of the most in-demand skills of 2020, according to Indeed. If you’re considering a career in cloud computing and want to become part of the skilled workforce responsible for moving core business functions to the cloud, you may be wondering how to get started.

Did you know that completing a cybersecurity boot camp can prepare you for a variety of roles in cloud computing — including those you may not have yet considered? In fact, world-leading tech organizations like IBM are actively seeking and hiring qualified candidates who have the skills covered in our Cybersecurity Boot Camp.

To give boot camp learners and alumni an inside look into the world of cloud computing, Trilogy Education Services, a 2U Inc. brand, recently hosted a Tech Talk titled “Expand Your Career Opportunities with Your Cybersecurity Boot Camp Certificate”. During the discussion, Taylor Brooks, Industry Engagement Manager at 2U, sat down with Brian Schuster, Operational Excellence Lead and DevOps Engineer at IBM. Through his professional work, Brian has developed technology applications for a wide range of organizations, fast-growing startups, established small businesses, and large enterprise organizations. He currently serves as a mentor to boot camp learners and professionals hoping to transition their careers, helping them build new mindsets and develop strategies for a successful tech career.

Below are some key takeaways from the event, including must-have skills, tips for getting hired in the field, and why leading companies like IBM are seeking boot camp learners for cloud computing roles.

How a cybersecurity boot camp background can prepare you for a career in cloud engineering

There are a number of skills that set qualified cloud computing professionals apart from their competitors. To kick off the event, Schuster began by sharing the skills his company looks for when seeking new cloud computing hires.

He also revealed that, while nontraditional, a boot camp education is a “secret weapon” for landing cloud computing roles, since many of the hard and soft skills covered in a boot camp overlap significantly with those needed for cloud computing roles. Check them out below.

Must-have hard skills:

  • Hands-on cloud experience: According to TechJury, 77 percent of organizations worldwide have at least one application running on the cloud. For this reason, it is important to have some cloud experience, Schuster advised. Applicants should be well-versed in configuring machines on a virtual network and deploying them to the cloud.
  • Knowledge of networking: A 2020 Global Networking Trends Report by Cisco revealed that by 2023, more than 60 percent of enterprises will deem networking as core to their digital strategies, up from less than 20 percent today. To ensure that the networks can effectively meet customer demands, Schuster said, cloud computing professionals must have an understanding of networking infrastructure.
  • Automation: Brian also suggests that automation will become increasingly critical to succeeding in the field of cloud computing. According to an earlier report by Cisco, 25 percent of IT leaders believe that automation will have the biggest impact on networking over the next five years.
  • Monitoring + security: A recent Cloud Threat Report by Oracle and KPMG (PDF, 13.6 MB) revealed that cloud vulnerability is one of the most threatening challenges faced by organizations today. Because of this, Brian advises that it is critical that cloud computing professionals have an understanding of how to monitor and protect cloud infrastructure.

Wondering how you can learn these skills? Through our cybersecurity boot camp, students obtain proficiency in cloud configuration and deployment, networking, automation, modern information security, and more. Learn more about our curriculum here.

Must-have soft skills:

  • Lifelong learning: Lifelong learning is essential to long-term success, given the rapid changes we are seeing in the cloud engineering field today, said Schuster. A recent D2L publication called The Future of Lifelong Learning suggests that 375 million workers across the global workforce may need to learn new skills by 2030.
  • Comfort with complexity: The cloud industry drives rapid-fire innovation, with leaders like Amazon Web Services introducing 1,500 new services and features each year, according to ECS. For this reason, Schuster explains it’s critical that today’s cloud professionals have the ability to grasp new technical concepts quickly.
  • Flexibility: The real value of a cloud computing professional is that, in Schuster’s words, they are an “inch thick and a mile wide.” And thus “need to be flexible on approach and firm on vision.” If you’re looking to make the transition to cloud computing, having flexible work skills can make it easier to switch professions.
  • Real-world knowledge: According to Schuster, the most important thing for any candidate to have is demonstrable real-world knowledge. Portfolios are good, but real-world problems — even those created by you — are even better. He recommends seeking out open source projects, startups looking for help, and third-party product marketplaces to get started.

Just like with the hard skills, soft skill development is a fundamental component of our cybersecurity boot camp. Our students are known for their commitment to lifelong learning, comfort with complex concepts and flexibility, and real-world knowledge through engaging hands-on sample projects.

Cloud computing roles and responsibilities

Now that you have a better understanding of the skills needed to work in cloud computing, you may be wondering what a cloud computing professional does on a day-to-day basis. Essentially, they are a new breed of IT experts who have the technical skills needed for managing, planning, architecting, and monitoring cloud systems.

What many don’t know is that the term “cloud computing” encompasses a wide variety of positions and responsibilities. Below, we’ve outlined some of the roles and duties that you can expect to qualify for if you transition into the field.

  • Cloud architect: Responsible for building and integrating a company’s cloud computing systems. Typically works in conjunction with a team of IT professionals to develop solutions and drive implementation planning.
  • DevOps engineer: Often responsible for developing, building, and managing IT solutions. These professionals also facilitate collaboration and communication between the development and IT teams within an organization.
  • Site reliability engineer: Tasked with maintaining the performance of computer systems, they often work closely with IT and support teams to develop in-house solutions that optimize the reliability of services.
  • Automation engineer: In charge of testing and implementing new processes for automation opportunities. These professionals typically work with other members of the engineering team to discover the best ways to streamline processes.

The above responsibilities have rendered cloud computing professionals invaluable in recent years. As stated by Schuster, “the cloud engineer is the one leading organizations through technical innovation.”

How to position yourself for cloud computing roles

Many cloud computing job seekers wonder how they can stand out in the field. Positions like those listed above attract hundreds of applicants, and only a few of those applicants will receive an interview. The path to landing one of these highly desired roles can be challenging, but here are five tips that can help you position yourself for success in the field.

Start networking immediately: Networking compounds with time. You might not truly receive the full benefits of your efforts until somewhere down the line, says Schuster. Industry events, support groups, and coaching sessions are all great ways to get started.

  1. Know the key players: If you’re looking to work at a particular company, try researching the important stakeholders within the organization. Schuster recommends requesting an informational interview or a casual meeting with them over coffee. They may just accept it.

2. Create a flexible resume: During your search, you’ll likely be applying for hundreds of roles. Make sure to take your time and read through each job description, and tailor your resume to reflect the position and the needs of the company you’re applying to.

3. Practice your interview skills: Hiring professionals like Schuster expect candidates to answer interview questions using the STAR method (situation, task, action, and result). And of course, don’t forget to have your own set of questions to ask during the interview.

4. Be prepared for rejection: Rejection is one of the most challenging things you will face during your job search. So, what’s the best way to remain positive? Schuster kept it simple: Always remember that the one yes is going to make up for all the nos.

Final thoughts

Building a career in cloud computing is a great way to utilize your boot camp education. The overlap in skills from a nontraditional cybersecurity education can be the key to foraying into a successful career. If you’re a current or former cybersecurity boot camp student, then you already have more to offer cloud computing than you can imagine, says Schuster.

If you’re new to our boot camps, visit our Cybersecurity Boot Camp page to learn more, or contact our admissions team at (310) 955-4093 to discover how you can gain the fundamentals to work in this growing, in-demand field.

Connect with Brian Schuster on LinkedIn, and view his current projects here.

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