Brace yourselves, I’m going to share my thoughts on online training and certifications. I know, you’ve probably read a few different articles out there but I figured, why not share my thoughts too…
If you’re working for a company that has training benefits – awesome… USE THEM. It’s effectively free money, even if you have to pay it back because you determine that you want to move onto another opportunity, USE THEM. Those training benefits help to move you forward and give your grey matter some nosh that’s needed to keep it active and energetic.
Don’t just jump on the backwagon of what everyone else is using. Do your homework (I know, I just mentioned you should study… which you might think is doing your homework)… research the various providers and figure out what it is that you want to learn and what your area of focus is. There are a ton of training providers out there – to name a few PluralSight, Udemy, Skill Me Up, Linux Academy, and A Cloud Guru which all have decent quality materials that they try to keep up to date. These are all companies that have on demand training, and a few have live training as well.
The caveat on each of these training providers however is similar to how you make investments in what your areas of expertise are, the training providers also recognize (at least for the most part) that they can’t be all things to all people – so they each have their specialities. . . sort of. I say that mostly because most of the training providers originally started out in a niche area, but have since hit their saturation level in that area of expertise and are diversifying their training coverage. I have yet to find any of these stooping to the level of teaching underwater basket weaving however. In terms of the investments these companies have made, as an example, A Cloud Guru was (and may still be) the crown jewel of training materials for anyone that was looking to achieve their AWS Solution Architect Associate certification, but when it came to Azure, they basically had nothing… or it was dated and had materials for good ole Azure Service Management APIs (most of which have been retired at this point). On the flip side, if you wanted something that was Azure focused, you turned to your friendly neighborhood Skill Me Up or PluralSight and dive deep to learn the materials and move forward.
If you find your self slowly but surely feeling as though you were being hypnotically controlled and put to sleep by screencasting, then there’s no better way to break up the monotony than through hands on labs. Some training providers have a robust hands on labs training system (Skill Me Up); others have handy sandboxes (Linux Academy); and others are still figuring out what a hands on lab exactly is (A Cloud Guru). Labs aren’t everything though – training providers are constantly battling with the same problem that you and I are – keeping up with the changes. As such, a lab that works one week, may or may not work the next. Additionally, because the underlying platforms are being updated, sometimes the APIs are updated and you find yourself not being able to complete a lab. The best lab providers invest in keeping their lab systems up to date. Others, they say they have labs… and they do, but they just may not meet the need in helping you to be able to learn the basics. Of course in those circumstances of labs that are somewhat old… maybe that’s the challenge you’re looking for and you want to participate in a troubleshooting activity.
As one of my college roommates tended to say, “Know thyself.” If you find yourself being someone that does well with online training and can dedicate an afternoon, evening, or late night to (who studies and learns in the morning?)… more power to you. If you’re me, and you prefer to go snag a cup of coffee or tea and have your phone or tablet with you, a mobile device that can sync conetnt down can be your best friend.
I’d recommend if you’re going to make an investment in a cloud training program, take some time and figure out what your objective is, then poke around at the above… minor caveat being that A Cloud Guru recently bought LinuxAcademy… so at some point we may see them merge… maybe?
If you don’t have the time to invest right now but you think you might be able to invest some time near the end of the year – Black Friday Sales – they’re a thing… most of the training providers have discounts that will knock your socks off.
Regardless, you’re doing awesome! Keep up the good work on seeking to better yourself whether it be in the world of Infrastructure as a Service, or something more on the Platform or Software as a Service side of things like Office 365. Keep on learning!