Virtual Serverless Meetup Preview — 5 Questions with Andy Barnes

Everyone is experiencing a lot of change and uncertainty in light of the current worldwide pandemic. While it’s painful to know that many folks are struggling with their health and front-line responders are putting themselves at risk to serve their communities, I must say the flexibility and open-mindedness to change in my corner of the world alone is nothing short of inspiring.

At Stackery, we’re trying to exhibit the same flexibility. Part of that involves shifting our approach to the monthly PDX Serverless Architecture meetups we typically host at the our office in downtown Portland.

Until it’s safe to gather in groups, we will be hosting our meetup virtually. I will definitely miss toasting people and seeing your faces, but I’m also excited by the prospect of opening up our event to people from all over to hear from the Portland serverless community.

Portlanders, rest assured that we will resume our downtown meetings when it’s safe to do so!

Our first virtual presenter for the meetup (April 21 starting at 6 PM PDT) is Andy Barnes, Software Engineer, and UX specialist.

Andy will be sharing super valuable insight with us about what it takes to get AWS Certified, how it will benefit you, and some hacks to use along the way. He was kind enough to connect with me earlier in the week and answer some preview questions.

Enjoy this preview from Andy and please register for our first VIRTUAL meetup next Tuesday if you haven’t already! Feel free to wear sweats and BYOB, of course :)


5 Questions with Andy Barnes

What is your background with serverless? 

I have been building applications that run off of serverless environments for the past three years both professionally and personally. I also used to work for a Johnson & Johnson company called Sightbox that did a lot of serverless development – many of my colleagues there used Stackery!

What AWS Certifications do you currently hold? 

Currently,  I am AWS Solutions Architect Associate-certified. I am actively studying for the Developer Associate certification which I am taking later this month.

I’ll also say that in the past, I always found the idea of certifications to be just a formality to demonstrate that you are a good test taker. To some extent that may still be true, however, I came to realize that the value you get out of it is dependent on the effort you put into it. For me, and my career path, AWS Certification has helped me become a better engineer because it’s challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone, forcing me to learn more than I would have without it.

For anyone in between jobs due to COVID/any other reason (or for those who can’t justify spending cash on a cert right now), do you have any advice for bolstering AWS capabilities?

Great question! To answer this question you have to ask yourself what is the ultimate goal you are looking to achieve. Or to put it more simply, “Why is being cloud certified worth my time and money?”

For me, I look at it as an investment in my career. In addition, having certifications is a great way to distinguish yourself from other applicants when being considered for a job. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual if the investment of time and money is going to help them achieve their longterm goals.

Can you point to outside resources you’re aware of to fund certification?

A low-cost learning tool that I actively use is Udemy. I can find courses as low as $10 that provide hours of hands-on content tailored to learning the material and passing the certification exams.

In addition, Udemy has practice exams on the cheep that help tremendously prior to taking the final exam. In my humble opinion, I would avoid spending $$$ on boot-camps or enterprise courses if the cost is coming out of your own pocket. 

What can we look forward to in your presentation?

  1. We’re going to cover the benefits and weigh the pros and cons. 

  2. I’ll briefly discuss all the AWS certifications currently available and outline some of the differences.

  3. I’ll go over some learning resources like A Cloud Guru and Udemy and give you my impression of them.  

  4. Tips and tricks! I’ll share the hacks that will help you study more effectively and retain more knowledge. 

  5. Finally, I will host a KAHOOT Trivia game featuring some serverless exam questions pulled from a few practice exams.

BONUS QUESTION: What is the first thing you look forward to doing after social distancing mandates are lifted and it’s safe to eat out/gather (—besides attending the IRL PDX Serverless Architecture Meetup, of course!)?

My family and I are definitely looking forward to a hike on the Pacific Coast and walking freely on the beach.

Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to all the first responders, healthcare professionals, grocers, and delivery drivers out there! Thank you for your dedication and support.


» Register for next week’s meetup to hear more from Andy

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