Certification or Experience?

Many up-and-coming cloud developers and Kubernetes enthusiasts think it’s worth their time from the get-go to dive in and get a bunch of Cloud Certifications. If you’re a junior developer, let me say that:

Certified != Qualified

I see many junior and intermediate engineers who have spent much of their time acquiring different Cloud and CNCF certifications at an early stage in their career and, while some carry more weight than others, I still want to see what skills you’ve acquired by building something useful in a cloud offering with Kubernetes.

I’ve interviewed:

  • Engineers with Network certifications who can’t tell me how a load-balancer works
  • Engineers with CNCF certifications that can’t tell me how to troubleshoot a broken pod
  • Engineers with Azure certifications that don’t know how to secure the front-end of AKS/cloud-apps

Until an engineer has got their hands dirty building, breaking, fixing and evolving workloads in a cloud environment, they haven’t received the education or experience of the things the certifications don’t teach them. Things like nuances with different flavors of load-balancers, how to properly configure web traffic via an ingress-controller in different flavors of Kubernetes, or even how different clouds provision storage or databases for you.

If you’ve built a project that is useful, that uses a proper cloud stack, and you can Tell me a Story about that project, then I’m more inclined to listen, ask more questions and potentially (if it’s an interview situation), move you on to the next set of interviews with the team.

If you’ve already started this journey, start thinking beyond the code or immediate infrastructure:

  • How might you scale this solution?
  • How might CICD come into play with your application?
  • What observability and alerts might you set up?
  • What were some things you encountered that you didn’t see coming?
  • Would you consider making the project open-source? How might you do that?

Once you have a mature app, displaying this knowledge publicly greatly helps folks like me find quality engineers with ample experience enough to join the team.

Build something cool and useful and tell me that story.