Cloud is here, and it's here to stay. It has been shown time and time again that the way the industry is moving, it's all cloud. Sure, there will always be on-prem virtualized infrastructure, but certainly not as much as 5-10 years ago. If you're in the virtualization or on-prem datacenter space, you may be wondering, How do I get cloud experience? How do I stay marketable and always stay up to date in the industry?

With all of the, what feels like, hundreds of requirements for a cloud-based role, the journey seems impossible. It's actually not and you'll be quite surprised how straight forward it may be.

In this blog post, you're going to learn the top four ways to go from zero cloud experience to landing that first interview for a cloud role.

Be Passionate

Prior to starting my company and becoming a CBT Nuggets trainer, I was a Lead DevOps Engineer (which was essentially a Director role with an engineering title) for the US in a global organization. As you can imagine, I interviewed a lot of people. The top thing I looked for was passion. I can train anyone in a specific piece of technology, so I wasn't looking for someone that was a master in Azure or PowerShell or CICD. What I looked for was the passion, hunger, and strive for success. Passion is the hardest thing to find as a manager and when it comes your way, you know that's the person to hire.

The first thing is to ensure you are passionate about the technology you are focusing on. If you aren't passionate, good managers will catch on to that and not want to hire you. If they do hire you, you'll just be a paid seat warmer. If you find yourself passionate about something else, say network automation or cyber security, go that route. Don't focus on something you aren't passionate about, especially for the money. Trust me, the money will come with the passion.

Start Doing Labs with Multiple Clouds

The great part about larger cloud organizations (Azure, AWS, Google) is that they all have some sort of free for a limited time trial. The free trials allow you to dive in and test different services in the cloud.

The one thing I do recommend is not to set yourself up for free trials only. Definitely sign up for the free trial, but afterwards, sign up for Pay-As-You-Go subscriptions, meaning, you only get charged for what you use. Set up a monthly cap, say, $20.00, that your account can't go over or it'll alert you when you're getting close.

Azure - Azure offers a 30-day free trial with 200 dollars in credits plus 12 months of 100% free services. You can find that here.

AWS - AWS offers a free-tier for one year. However, keep in mind, it is extremely limited. Chances are you'll end up spending some money. You can find that here.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) - GCP offers a free-tier for one year with $300.00 in credits that you can spend. You can find that here.

Fill in the Gaps with Certification Studies

Certification studies doesn't mean you have to go and get all of the certifications, or even one. You can simply use the study material from the certifications. The great thing about certification studies is it fills in the gaps. Even if you are working in the cloud, you aren't working with every single service. Because of that, chances are there are definitely portions of Azure, AWS, or GCP that you would be unaware of. Certification studies helps in that arena.

For Azure training, CBT Nuggets has a ton of great resources. If you aren't a CBT Nuggets subscriber, Microsoft Learn is a great resource.

If you want to learn about AWS, I highly recommend Bart Castle from CBT Nuggets. He focuses purely on AWS and definitely teaches the information in an easy-to-understand fashion.

Learning about GCP can be done right on Googles training site, which you can find here.

Search For a Company Willing to Teach

After you have a little knowledge of the cloud under your belt and you know you're passionate, it's time to start searching for a company willing to teach. If you are passionate, there will be a hiring manager out there that wants to bring you onboard and teach you. It may take some time to find the right company that is willing to do this, but that's okay. All good things happen in time and remember, your career is a marathon, not a sprint.

I recommend looking for startups, AKA, a smaller company that's just getting off of the ground. The reason why is because typically, they don't have the budget or the resources to hire an SME to do just certain portions of their cloud-based technologies. They want someone that can take on multiple responsibilities and learn as they go. The big reason for this is also because if you are just learning cloud, you'll be a cheaper hire vs the SME with 5+ years of experience.

It'll definitely be difficult and long hours will be involved, but I promise you, it will pay off for your career.