CloudU Notebooks is a weekly blog series that explores topics from the CloudU certificate program in bite sized chunks, written by me, Ben Kepes, curator of CloudU. How-to’s, interviews with industry giants, and the occasional opinion piece are what you can expect to find. If that’s your cup of tea, you can subscribe here.

When I first suggested a vendor-neutral Cloud education program, I was pretty sure that there was a real need for what I was suggesting, but wasn’t entirely certain if it would really be able to make a difference for everyday folks. I hoped it would, but like all these things, an idea is just that until it’s proven. When I was in Texas a couple of months ago I coincidentally bumped into a recent CloudU graduate – someone who came from a totally non tech-related background but who used the CloudU program to build her knowledge about the Cloud, and hook herself a sweet job in the process. The person I met, Christine, is now a Rackspace employee but, rather than an advertisement for Rackspace as an employer, her experience shows that with a bit of desire, and the help of foundational programs like CloudU, an entire new world exists.

The story that Christine told me is an awesome validation for me personally and for everyone who helps behind the scenes with the CloudU program. But more than that it’s validation of the fact that sowing a seed can deliver concrete results. Christine’s story is proof of that and, rather than paraphrasing what she said, I though I’d let her tell her own story…

My father started off as a CPA right out of college and 15 years later became the Business Developer (read: sales guy) for a private accounting firm in Houston. His divergent path and series of opportunities that led him there gave him a lack of fear in pursuing new things. His “no fear” encouraged me to do the same in life and to always “make the ask.” To him, ” the ask” means presenting someone with a question without fear of what the answer will bring or how you will be perceived for asking it. I learned that the worst possible answer someone can provide is “no.” Once I realized this worst case scenario, I gained confidence that I could pursue whatever career path I wanted without fear of feeling rejected.

I worked in the healthcare industry for a few years; however, this short time frame was long enough for me to realize it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I had a friend from church who worked in the IT field and he seemed like a rather happy, inquisitive, kind and creative type of fellow. I decided it was time to “make the ask” and see how I could get my foot into the IT door and see what could happen.

With the no fear attitude in mind, I spoke with my friend about opportunities in the technology sector. I did not want to spend money on education as I did not know the odds of getting a job within the industry. Thus, my friend suggested the free CloudU certification due to my lack of formal education in cloud technology or experience in the IT world. The curriculum encouraged creative thinking that had been swept under the rug in my previous career and I began learning about the cloud sector at a rapid pace. As I began learning more about the cloud and IT, my position in healthcare became that much more undesirable. It made me realize that I had to push my fears aside and change careers into IT.

My question, as inspired by my father, became “what’s the worst that can happen?” At best, I would get my foot in the door into a new industry, one that I wanted to get involved with. At worst, I could at least define “the cloud” to my grandfather in relation to how Amazon delivers books on his Kindle. Thus, I finished CloudU, my friend took my resume and passed it around inside his IT company and I was granted an interview. During the interview, I discussed various economic facets of the cloud and the future of the cloud in relation to the company’s product. Without this foreknowledge from the certificate, I do not think I could have handled the interview questions and provided such depth.

There are three crucial elements that got me my current position: my thoughtful friend, my encouraging and forward-thinking manager and CloudU. Without those three things, my life couldn’t have changed as drastically as it did and I would be in a much different place. To have any one of those elements occur is a gift; to have all three occur at the same time is a huge, ginormous Christmas gift from the heavens. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity to change my career and to change my life. Thank you again for creating CloudU. I hope there are many more success stories from the program.

Thanks Christine – I can honestly say that you made what I do worthwhile!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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