Explore new realms, says Patrick O’ Connor who aced 11 certifications in 5 months

While certifications may not seem equivalent to competence always, they are helpful every time you want to upgrade yourself in your field of work. An AWS certification can always ensure a higher salary and lucrative career opportunities. If you are thinking, how to leverage AWS certifications, let’s talk to a pro. Patrick O’Connor is a cloud application developer at Amazon Web Services and takes the credit of having completed 11 certifications at a go.

In this blog, he talks at length about the sequence he had followed to finish off with the certifications, the strategies employed, and the goal set he had adopted. If you want to turn into a customer-centric AWS professional, this excerpt will surely help and motivate you to finish the AWS certifications quickly. 

Cloud Skills are in high demand, and as AWS remains the most sought-after cloud, you will have to go through Patrick O’ Connor’s insights to get a deep knowledge about the certifications. 

Read the excerpts.

You challenged yourself to achieve 11 AWS certifications in 5 months. Your dedication is commendable! What inspired you to do this?

I derived motivation and inspiration from three certifications that I already did in Cloud and Solutions Architect that has inculcated an interest in exploring other technical certifications, especially, AWS which offers exposure to Machine Learning efficiently and comprehensively.

Which certification did you take first? Any specific reason you chose that?

The first certificate I took was the Cloud Practitioner. It was way back in 2020 when I was working for National Australia Bank, wherein I was exposed to work on AWS. However, I was clueless about it. Therefore, I decided to work on my current technical skills and started to explore various technological platforms.

Which certification did you choose the second? Was it just a random choice or any order you followed? Walk us through your certification path a little?

The second certificate I chose to sit was the Solutions Architect – Associate. It was a certificate I had meant to sit earlier, but fear of failure held me back from ever attempting. 

I chose this certificate as it was popular among my peers as well it was the logical continuation from a being Cloud Practitioner. After attempting and passing, to my surprise, the exhilaration drove me to go further. 

In 5 months, you have studied a lot of core topics on AWS. Can you list out the five tips that are key for those going for all 11 certs? Any particular preparation strategy you followed for these concepts?

My five pieces of advice would be the following:

  • Security is a common denominator. Throughout each exam, I felt a common security theme, particularly scenario-based questions on how to protect a system better. Whether the data, ML, or the associate exams, expect a percentage of security-based questions to preserve the system.
  • Well-Architected Design, especially in the Solution Architect exams, can sometimes be presented with multiple valid solutions, but one will be the most correct. Use the well-architected framework to sift out the incorrect answers and match the most appropriate solution to the customer’s task.
  • Think logically – If you don’t know the answer, take a step back, read the question slowly, and ask yourself. If I was presented with this problem and had complete control of the AWS platform, what would I do to make it easier for my customers to solve their issue? This thought process has helped guide me to potentially correct answers.
  • Do you have an interest in the exam/topic you’re attempting? Without interest or passion for the matter, the exam can be very draining. It’s what has driven me to catch them all; my passion for the cloud and curiosity about this incredible technology has played a crucial role in sitting for an exam and quickly pivot towards the next.
  • Practice your skillsRemember, certificates are only one aspect of the cloud. The other is hands-on experience building to cement your learning skills.

Is there any service(s) that is/are crucial for all the 11 exams? How should a beginner start with the service?

Each exam is unique; it challenges a separate acumen. However, I would strongly suggest a grounding in compute (e.g., EC2, Lambda), storage (e.g., S3, EBS, EFS), databases (e.g., RDS, DynamoDB, Redshift), and security/management & governance to set you up for success.

There are many ways to start, like watching basic video tutorials and attempting free tests with Whizlabs.

What is your advice on choosing a certification path for a beginner?

The decision goes beyond choosing the basic or an associate-level course. The best piece of advice is, “ choose wisely.” 

First, go through the entire list of certification courses you are interested in and thoroughly study the modules and concepts to determine whether it matches your technical skills and interest area. Do not randomly pick any certificate, which your peer or colleagues may have suggested.

Can you rank all the 11 certifications based on their difficulty level? (1 being the most difficult, 11 being the least difficult.)

It would be challenging to rank certificates based on difficulty level; however, according to me, it would be in the following order:

  1. Advanced Networking – Specialty
  2. Solutions Architect – Professional
  3. Machine Learning – Specialty
  4. DevOps – Pro
  5. Data Analytics – Specialty
  6. Databases – Specialty
  7. Security – Specialty
  8. SysOps – Associate
  9. Solutions Architect – Associate
  10. Developer – Associate
  11. Cloud Practitioner

What are your secret tips that could help anyone who is preparing for a certification?

As everyone says, practice makes a man perfect. Keep practising till the last day of your certification exam.

Interestingly, Whizlabs is a hub for practice tests and video tutorials. Go through each tutorial and attempt as many tests as you can. These tests are designed in a way to access you with a fairly efficient idea of which topic require maximum practice. It will not only sharpen your technical skills but boost your confidence to the next level.

You are currently working as a Cloud Application Developer at AWS. Since you now have 11 certifications, what do you think about these certifications’ role in your career?

As mentioned before, the certifications have allowed me to explore spaces in AWS. Additionally, studying for the ML certificate or even the data analytics certificate exposed me to services like Amazon Sagemaker, Amazon EMR and Redshift.

It encouraged me to dive deep from a technical perspective. Thus, helping me in my current role, I can bring knowledge and experience of these services to a conversation in order to provide a well-architected solution to the best match of my customers’ needs.

11 certifications in 5 months was an inspiring goal you have set. What is your next goal?

As of now, I am planning to take a break. I would want to explore my creative bend. Furthermore, I would also be running workshops, webinars and guiding young talent as I believe that one should never stop exploring new realms.

About Aditi Malhotra

Aditi Malhotra is the Content Marketing Manager at Whizlabs. Having a Master in Journalism and Mass Communication, she helps businesses stop playing around with Content Marketing and start seeing tangible ROI. A writer by day and a reader by night, she is a fine blend of both reality and fantasy. Apart from her professional commitments, she is also endearing to publish a book authored by her very soon.

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