26 Months: From Lambda-fear to AWS Community Builder

Yes you read that right: I am an AWS Community Builder!

Ok let me start from the beginning.

If you have followed my journey on my various social media accounts, you’ll know that I started coding a little over two years ago. I started as a career changer who didn’t know the first thing about coding. And when I say I didn’t know a thing, I really mean it. My first day coding was terrifying.

Fast forward through my three week (surprisingly enjoyable) introductory course and bam, I was fortunate enough to get offered an apprenticeship.

It’s during that apprenticeship stage that my AWS journey begins. Or, well, more like pretty much scared me off for life. Guess it was more of a false start.

You see, during the first few weeks of that apprenticeship the boot camp that was training me hosted a hackathon. And being the go-getter with no fear that I seemed to be turning into, I signed up. With less than a couple of months of coding experience.

Smart move Jade. But thankfully a few boot camp friends were joining which gave me some reassurance.

This hackathon was sponsored by Amazon and part of the challenge was to incorporate good old Alexa into our projects. Admittedly we did try to avoid doing that. I didn’t even own Alexa, and never mind my entire team were brand new coders. We just about understood HTML, CSS and JavaScript. None of us were ready to figure out how to program an Alexa.

Where would we even begin?

Thankfully (or not, I’m still not sure) we had a lot of support from pretty much all of the mentors at the hackathon. They persuaded us to incorporate the Alexa into our project idea so we shrugged and went along with it. The mentors actually took over the Alexa side of things while the rest of the team got to grips with using React for the frontend – something else we weren’t familiar.

Well, I say the “rest of the team”. Somehow I had ended up pairing with the most experienced coder on the team doing the backend work. Except 2019 Jade was definitely no use when it came to doing any sort of backend programming. Instead I sat there and my partner explained his algorithms and coding logic to me.

Then mentors asked for a volunteer to set up the Alexa.

Sure, I can set that up. What do I need to do?

I heard myself volunteer.

Great! You just need to set up an AWS account. A free one. Then connect it to this Alexa while we sort out the Lambda.

The mentor next to me explained.

So many words and phrases and none of it sounded like English.

Let me explain:

  • AWS: this stands for Amazon Web Services.
  • Lambda: a tiny application which runs the code when an event happens. In our project (and most projects which concern an Alexa come to think of it) this would have been a voice command. [Note: this second part I actually only figured out recently. I didn’t do much research during the hackathon!]

I found the AWS website. I created an account. I connected up the Alexa (don’t ask me how, all I remember is the fear of someone saying the wrong thing and ending up with £££ being charged to my Amazon account). Then pretty much the rest of the time I spent copying and pasting the “Lambda” code that I was sent and seeing if it worked.

It never did.

We did come second simply because we managed to produce anything with our limited experience, but from that day on I swore I never wanted to touch AWS again. Call it coding trauma but all I could think was if those senior developers couldn’t figure this AWS malarkey out then I had no chance.

Flash forward 26 months. I’ve since finished the coding boot camp. I’ve changed jobs and passed my apprenticeship. I work with AWS on a fairly regular basis now and I’ve learned that:

  • even senior developers run into problems
  • AWS is so much more than Lambdas
  • And sometimes things that terrify you the first time around, may actually end up growing on you as I’m currently revising to undertake my AWS Associate Developer certification

And, as of yesterday, my view of AWS has changed so much that I applied – and have been accepted – onto the AWS Community Builders program!

So I guess that’s my next 12 months worth of content ready for me to start planning out!

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