The Path To Becoming An AWS Authorized Instructor
Michelle Chismon, Technical Solutions Consultant @ nubeGO, shares her thoughts from her recent journey to become an AWS Authorized Instructor.
Around two months ago, Fernando asked me if I wanted to become an AWS Authorized Instructor. It was an interesting question. I began my cloud journey as a cloud systems developer and while I’ve been enjoying that immensely with all the challenges it throws my way, I do miss the public engagement that I did in my previous life of academia. I loved standing in front of an audience, whether it was 10 people or 300, telling them all about the latest advances in microbiome research and why they should care about it. So with this nostalgia in mind, I told Fernando that I would give it a go!
What is an AWS Authorized Instructor?
AWS provides a number of training courses designed to teach you specific areas of AWS, whether that’s Architecting, Security or Big Data (to name only a few!). These courses are taught by AWS Authorized Instructors (AAIs) who have undergone assessment via the AAI Program. These are typically people who have hands-on experience with the AWS platform as well as classroom-based teaching.
How do you become an AAI?
Gain a sponsor: To become an AAI, you must first gain a sponsor. A sponsor must be an AWS Advanced Training Partner who will introduce you to the AWS ATP Program Manager for your region. The Program Manager will be responsible for onboarding you to the program and ensuring that you meet all the prerequisite requirements.
Attain the AWS Solutions Architect - Associate certification: Gaining the SA Associate certification validates your technical knowledge of AWS. You will need to gain the relevant certification for any courses you wish to teach, i.e. To teach Big Data on AWS you will need AWS Certified Big Data - Speciality. For the assessment however, you only need to complete the SA Associate.
Study! Architecting on AWS is a 3 day course, and at present, consists of 655 slides! That is a lot of content and you need to know it well. You need to be able to deliver the content facing the room, not glued to the laptop screen because you’re unsure what the slide says.
Take the assessment: Once you think you’re ready, attend the AAI Delivery Workshop. Do not be fooled by the title, it is not a workshop. While you will be given some tips during the course of the 3 days, you are expected to attend the workshop ready to deliver the whole Architecting on AWS course. During the workshop you will be asked to deliver a number of topics, some that you have chosen, some that the assessor has chosen, and you will be assessed on your delivery and breadth of knowledge. At the end of the workshop you will be told whether you have passed, or whether you need to do some more work.
I’ve been a trainer my entire career, why do I need to be assessed?
In short, to make sure that you spread the correct message and image. AWS is a leading cloud provider and have created quite a big name for themselves. They have a strong marketing message that says “We are the best at what we do” in all aspects of their business and they want to make sure that the Instructors who go out into the world to teach AWS do so with that message in mind. They want to make sure that you do have the knowledge and experience to teach people about their platform, and it’s hard to argue with that.
I had already attained my AWS Solutions Architect - Associate certification so that made my life a little easier! For a month, I buckled down, learning the course content, creating and practicing demos and learning how to whiteboard effectively (tip: use all the colours at your disposal!). I am fortunate to work with some highly talented AWS Authorized Instructors, so throughout my preparation month I had regular practice sessions and gained useful, critical feedback about things I could improve. I cannot stress the importance of practice enough. Through practice you can develop a flow, begin laying down muscle memory. I spent many afternoons simply talking to a wall in private phone booth!
The workshop itself tested my nerves! I’m an experienced public speaker but the thought of being actively judged put me on edge. My watch informed me that at one point in the workshop my heart rate hit 120bpm. I was sat down doing nothing during that time. But there was no need for the nerves; everyone in the workshop, whether they were like myself or the assessing instructors, was friendly and the atmosphere in the room was very casual. It did a lot to put me at ease!
On the first day we each selected a topic that we wanted to present, and the instructor selected a topic that he wanted each of us to present. On day 1 this was to be done with the aid of slides. Day 2 followed the same format, but without slides. This is to show your ability to demo and whiteboard. Because the instructor will choose some topics for you, it really is important for you to be comfortable with the whole course content because you could be given any topic.
Overall, I learned a lot from the experience! I picked up tips from the other attendees, as well as useful feedback and trivia from the assessing instructor. I’m pleased to say that I did pass the assessment and I will begin to deliver AWS training soon! I highly recommend the process to anyone who is passionate about AWS and teaching.
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