How to get a job in the cloud industry

27-02-2013 / Pierre-Luc Bisaillon

After a few weeks of career days, wine and cheese, and interviews, I wanted to summarize a few key findings and give some tips to students (and grown-ups) looking for a job with CloudOps — or anywhere in the cloud industry, for that matter.

Try AWS — for free

Amazon Web Services is the industry leader and has enough capacity to offer every new customer a free tier, which enables you to get an amount of resources on the public cloud service for free, including:

a micro Linux or Windows server for 750 hours on the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

750 hours of Elastic Load Balancing (ELB)

5 GB of object storage and 30 GB of block storage

A number of other database, application, and management services

There is no reason for graduates in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related disciplines to leave school without a basic understanding of what AWS is.

Contribute/participate in an open-source project — for free

In the early days of Linux, everyone scratched their heads at the open-source model. These days are long gone, and a significant portion of today’s software development involves open source in one aspect or another (just have a look at the dominance of the Apache HTTP web server, or the gaining momentum of nginx).

There are certainly rules and communities to consider, and one can’t just decide to jump into an open-source project and start coding. However, with many dozen projects just in the Apache Foundation, and many more on the market, there is certainly one that can peak your interest. Join the community, have a look, download something, share something, maybe just an idea. But get busy.

Have a look at CloudStack, OpenStack — for free

CloudStack and OpenStack are two of the most popular open-source cloud-management platforms, and both are open source. These are certainly larger projects and require more effort to participate in, but the communities are still open and active and you can certainly find a way to get involved.

Do something — for free

Candidates that are the most interesting to me are the ones that have started something on the side, just for fun. Since we’re currently hiring developers, we like to see people who have developed something — a web site, a small application. Maybe you have taken a particular interest in a school project and worked more than you really had to. Maybe it was a competition. Maybe you helped your aunt with her business web site. Whatever it is, do something, and tell us about it.

Rifle, not shotgun

This suggestion is certainly more generic, but is still critical in any job interview — find the companies you want to work for most and work twice as hard for them. Write an entirely customized cover letter. Email people directly, before and after the interview, to stay in touch and stay top of mind. Read the web site, the white papers, and comment on them. Why not show up at the interview with the white papers printed out and when we get to the part of the interview when we say “do you have any questions?” take them out of your bag and show one that has notes and highlights and point to a section and ask a smart question?

This is an exciting time for the cloud industry and for CloudOps, and we look forward to interviewing and hiring many more candidates. Hopefully these few tips will help you differentiate yourself from the pack.