The b.telligent Azure Academy: how I became an Azure pro in four months
I had just arrived at b.telligent with a PhD in pure mathematics and a mixed bag of programming and IT skills in my pocket. My goal: to become a certified Azure Architect within 4 months. The learning pathway: a professional development program from Microsoft and a lot of support from b.telligent.
What is the Microsoft Azure Academy?
To provide an upskilling program to address the skills shortage and the high demand for Azure specialists, Microsoft launched the Azure Academy in November 2019 as part of its "Workforce of the Future" initiative. The initiative targets people working in other areas of IT, such as on-premise specialists, developers, and experienced software administrators. In courses lasting several weeks, Microsoft and a training partner prepare participants for working with the MS Cloud and also provide professional development for employees who have already gained some experience in the area.
We have been a Microsoft partner for many years. When they approached us with their idea of the Azure Academy, we saw it as an ideal opportunity to familiarize new employees with Azure right at the start of their career with b.telligent. The initial feedback about the program has been entirely positive, and we already have several more staff members waiting their turn to participate.
Day 1: setting sail – my first dry runs with Microsoft Azure
On March 1, I started work as an associate consultant with b.telligent, intending to become a specialist in Microsoft Azure. I have virtually no cloud knowledge. It's a challenging task. So why am I the right person for this job? Well, I am highly motivated, enjoy learning new things, and have a curious nature. A good friend of mine once said he thought my spirit animal was a meerkat. Why is this the right job for me? There are numerous benefits to being a member of b.telligent's recently established Azure Academy. For example, the company covers the cost of the training I referred to earlier, pays me while I study, offers professional support from experienced staff members, allows me to attend internal and external workshops to expand my knowledge, and lets me try out my new knowledge on small projects right away. Not only that, but it all takes place within a wonderful, informal environment. With all this going for me, I am confident that I'll make great progress through the Azure waters that lie ahead. But it won't be easy!
The first two weeks: a steep learning curve and lots of theory
There was a lot for me to do before I started my first week of training on 8 March. Of course, I wanted to get to know the company and my new colleagues during my first week at b.telligent. But beyond that, I immersed myself in self-study. I needed to acquire the foundational knowledge for the AZ-900 exam, the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, under my own steam. Thanks to the resources provided by Microsoft Learn, this was easily doable. At the same time, I read up on networking. I spent my entire second week at b.telligent at the Academy, from 9 to 5 every day in a Teams call with four other colleagues from different parts of Germany and our trainer Georg. Georg is the likeable and highly competent veteran of the Microsoft ecosystem who helped us navigate safely through the theoretical shallows of the AZ-104 sea that week and occasionally took us to the smaller labs where we could put what we had learned into practice on a limited scale. The key topics of this part of my Azure training were administration, networking, storage, computing and monitoring – a varied catalog of Microsoft knowledge that never proved boring.
The second two weeks: more theory, some practice and the first certifications
There was no actual training during the next week of my journey to becoming an Azure professional. So, I used the time to obtain my first certification – the AZ-900 – which didn't prove too hard. I also spent some time revising and consolidating the theory I had learned the week before. I had already been given a small in-house project by b.telligent, which allowed me to try out some of my new skills in a secure environment. The Academy resumed the following week – this time in a much more realistic setting. In hands-on lab sessions lasting several hours, we simulated scenarios such as transferring an on-premises environment to Azure or deploying high availability and disaster recovery solutions in an existing Azure environment. Even if technical challenges sometimes threatened to take the wind out of our sails, Georg always kept us on course. Trying out my newly acquired theory in this environment proved highly motivating in practice and was a good opportunity to discover and close some of the gaps in my knowledge. I now felt ready for my second exam, the AZ-104 certification. When I passed it shortly afterwards, I felt I had reached an important milestone in my new role as an Azure specialist.
I achieved a lot more in that first month than I ever expected. I learned a lot and had great fun at the same time! I'm looking forward to the next few months and am curious to see who else will join the team in the near future.
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