For those of you who don’t know Yujun, check him out on LinkedIn. He is 200% passionate about Cloud Computing and inspired thousands of people to pursue career in cloud. He was clearing certifications before it was a “thing”. He has co-authored a book on Selenium WebDriver. Currently he is the Chief Architect at AIG.
So, I decided to have a quick fireside chat with Yujun to ask him his side of the story.
Haman: Thanks for taking time and doing this Q&A. Will get straight into it
You have a very humble background, can you tell us more about how it all started and what was the driving factor for you to earn a multitude of certifications?
Yujun: I had been a Java Developer for a long time. I was on H1-B and need to have some skills not common to American citizens. So I monitor the technology trend.
In 2016, the employer I worked for wanted to migrate to AWS and we were required to become certified. At the beginning, I wasn’t keen to get certified so kept postponing it until one day, I had to start so I started.
But after I listened to Ryan Kroonergburg’s course on A Cloud Guru, I made the decision to get fully certified on AWS.
I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it is like this: “Folks, get certified, you can find a very good job after that. Trust me, you won’t regret it.”
And I trusted him.
It is important to have a goal and pursue it.
If you are not sure about yourself, go watch this movie, The Pursuit of Happyness and you can also understand why the title of this article was spelled wrong.
Haman: Which has been more valuable in your career, your education or your experience?
Yujun: Without my previous education, I wouldn’t have been qualified for an H1-B visa so I would say it is very valuable for my career.
But my major is not a specialist field, it is a generalist field called “Systems Engineering”. I learnt Operation Research, Machine Learning in the 80s, of course, just by scratching the surface. But we were taught we need to do continuous learning since the industry evolves in a quick pace.
Experience is also important, the real life projects I have been on, taught me how to solve problems; how to work with people; especially how to work with people from various backgrounds.
Haman: People on LinkedIn call you “Certification King”; you have motivated so many professionals to achieve these much sought-after certifications. Do you think these certifications will become more relevant as time progresses? And how do these certifications help in one’s professional career?
Yujun: I have BEA WebLogic Server, SUN Web Component Developer, and Java 2 Programmer certifications. Over time, they became irrelevant. But I don’t regret spending time getting them. I learnt a lot by preparing for those certifications. For example, I designed a web framework using Servlet and JSP, which is a result of preparing for SUN Web Component Developer.
Cloud certifications are in demand now, but overtime, they will phase out. Despite that, I still encourage people to get them now, since cloud certifications can be your ticket to your future job.
Many people did get better jobs after getting AWS certifications, they are working for AWS now, doubled or tripled their pre-cloud salary. They are grateful to me.
Some of the connections like to have fun so they called me “Certification King”. Frankly, I quite like this title. LOL. Many people also found it entertaining.
We learn and have fun at the same time.
Haman: Did you have a plan on how to achieve these milestones? Also, I’ve to ask you and I’m sure many would be curious to know which certification was the most ‘challenging’ for you and why?
Yujun: I don’t push myself too hard.
My plan is to get them one by one at a sustainable pace.
The most challenging one was “AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty”, and I passed it at the 4th attempt. I used to be a long time Java Developer and Networking used to be a boring subject to me.
If you are interested, please read the article here. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pursuit-happyness-my-aws-certification-journey-yujun-liang/
Now I found another challenging one, The Linux Foundation Certified Engineer, which covers a broader range of Linux Packages related to networking. I will be getting it.
Haman: What’s your advice for any working professional looking to upskill or a graduate right out of college?
Yujun: For technical careers, cloud certifications, including some hands on ones from The Linux Foundation are good, since there is a huge demand for cloud architects in the infrastructure modernization projects.
And people can look at (ISC)2 , ISACA, ITIL 4 certifications, those are certifications for a management career in enterprise IT.
For example, CISSP teaches the required knowledge for 8 security related domains, it will benefit people even not working as a security professional.
There is a huge demand for security professionals as well.
Haman: How do you organize your time and still maintain work-life balance?
Yujun: To study happily, you need to find a way to entertain yourself. Many people are curious how I find time to study. The truth is,
I have been living two lives, just like Mr. Anderson in The Matrix >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXEUW792etk
In one life, I am Yujun Liang, Chief Architect, working for a respectable insurance company. I have a social security number, and I pay taxes. Also I yield to cars entering the traffic.
In the other life, in the LinkedIn world, I go by the alias Certification King and lead people to fight in the certification world, to explore, to conquer, and to celebrate!
Haman: Matrix is indeed a great movie. And did you know we have a new one coming out soon. Finally, any resolutions for Yujun for 2021?
Yujun: Catching up with old and new friends is important. My immediatate one is to catch up with my friend Richard Foltak. Please look at the certification section of his LinkedIn profile, he has almost all of the (ISC)2 , ISACA, ITIL 4 certifications. So you may want to interview him as well.
Thank you for having me.
Haman: Thanks, Yujun, for your valuable time and yes, Richard is now on our list. You have been a true inspiration for many people in the IT industry. Keep doing the great job!
Related: Check out our fireside chat with Emmanuel Koomson and his story on how to achieve all 13 AWS certifications.