Christie Bibbs already works in the tech industry as a systems engineer, but she wanted to add cloud computing tools to her abilities.
Through the Black Women in Tech Facebook group, Bibbs learned about Amazon Web Services Inc.’s new Arlington-based Skills Center and signed up for a three-part cloud practitioner course. During the free, in-person classes, Bibbs learned the fundamentals of cloud computing, including more about AWS products and services, as well as compliance with data and security controls. This month, she plans to take an exam to become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, taking the first step toward her goal of becoming a cloud solutions architect.
“Our clients need various solutions, depending on what they’re trying to do,” says Bibbs, who works in Columbia, Maryland, for defense contractor TransTechSol LLC. “Taking these classes will help me advise them a little bit better.”
Opened in October 2022 near parent company Amazon.com Inc.’s HQ2 East Coast headquarters, the 10,000-square-foot AWS Skills Center includes classrooms and interactive exhibits that demonstrate cloud computing in real time, including a miniature smart home. The Arlington location is the second AWS Skills Center; its first opened in Seattle in November 2021. Both offer free, in-person foundational courses on cloud computing and are a piece of Amazon’s larger goal to provide free digital skills training to more than 29 million people worldwide by 2025.
Russ Cowley, global head of AWS Skills Centers, said the Seattle location has trained “thousands” of people. The centers are meant as launchpads for tech careers, and AWS is targeting “anyone who is new to the cloud,” including underrepresented communities and people seeking to change industries, Cowley says.
Additional courses on foundational topics in cloud computing are planned, and the center will also work with employers and local organizations for networking and career placement events. AWS is already working with Consult Lemonade, a nonprofit that works to connect underrepresented communities in the Washington, D.C., region with career opportunities. AWS partnered with the group to offer a hybrid cloud computing course that started in December 2022.
Bibb says she prefers face-to-face learning and the opportunity to meet other professionals.
“I might even have a nice little study group forming of people who, like me, are trying to learn so that we can move forward in our careers,” she says.