Broadus Palmer, a previous Linux Academy student, and now an AWS Content Support Manager at Linux Academy, shares his story on how he got started in the industry. From mispronouncing AWS as “AUZ”, to getting three certifications, and now working at LA in an AWS focused role, he has come a long way! Read his story below:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! So basically there are no right answers, we just want to get to know you. Just to start us off, what is your official title at Linux Academy right now?
My official title is AWS Content Support Manager.
What does that entail? What do you do?
So basically, we’re still trying to figure out a lot of it, but for the most part, I’m frontline with the students. So, what I do is, let’s say if we drop the course, I go through, check the feedback on it daily. Let’s say if a student says “Oh, you did this, or something’s wrong on this video,” I’ll reach out to the student, see exactly what their thoughts were, what was wrong. If we have the opportunity to fix it and it needs to be corrected, we can go in there and correct it, then reach out to the student and let them know it’s been corrected. Going in and updating Udemy courses, answering questions there, getting with my team, if they need things that need to be changed, or help on their courses if they need to update some things. Really just making sure everyone stays on top of their game with the content and with the students.
What do you do for fun, what do you do in your spare time?
I like to chill with my family. At one point in my life, I was making music, so I always have that in my heart as well, you know songwriting and everything. For the most part now, it’s just spending as much time with my family – my kids are growing, spending time with my wife, just trying to do things we haven’t done before. I’m just really a family guy, to be honest with you. I like to have friends over, I like to have cookouts, just to have that family time.
If a close friend were to describe you, what would be the words they would use and why?
Outgoing, because I’m always talking and I’m always trying to get to know people, and I’m just a person that, everywhere I’ve worked or everywhere I go, I’m laughing, tripping with people. Trying to bring the niceness out of me, and just show people my aura and connect with them on that energy.
Can you provide the content and environment that led you to Linux Academy initially, like where were you working, how was life in general?
It started without me even knowing. I used to be in the sneaker industry. Sneakers are my passion as well, I used to have a huge resale sneaker business, and what we did was we used what they call “sneaker bots,” so we were actually using AWS servers. We were using Windows servers on AWS to house the programs and we were using IPs to kind of mask our IP address. So we would use 50-100 IPs to make it look like to a retail online site that it was 100 different people accessing that website, so it was 100 different opportunities to get that shoe. I started learning the science of it, like checking out where the data centers are for say, Foot Locker, and looking and saying, “Hey, how can I decrease latency on this,” and really getting my servers placed as close as possible to the data centers and getting the IP addresses matching or at least as close as possible to the data centers as well. And just learning. Actually, I thought (it’s a shame of me), but I thought um, I was like, “Oh, yea I use “AUZ,” because I didn’t know it was AWS. And I was like check out AUZ man, AUZ is awesome” LOL!
Last June, I’m sitting there at a desk (I used to work for a company called BB&T, as a banker) and I was at a point where I love serving people, but this particular energy of the clientele that we had, I just didn’t like. As far as customers expect that because they have a certain amount of money, you should treat them in a different way, and I’m not that person. I treat everyone the same way whether they’ve got two dollars, two cents, or two million. You’re gonna get the same treatment, which is the best service I can give you. There was one interaction I had where literally we were just talking and the customer was just fussing at me, and I was just thinking in my head like “Man, I’m going to IT.” Literally, it happened just like that!
So I’m like, “Ok so what am I gonna do, I don’t know what to do. Do you even know closely what you want to accomplish in IT? No. So, let’s talk to a few friends.” So I’m talking to a few friends and figured out I don’t want to do hardware. Actually what I did (it’s a shame I shouldn’t say this), but I actually Googled the top paying IT certifications for 2017- 2018, #2 was AWS Solutions Architect. The reason I didn’t choose #1 was because you had to be in a role for 5 years in order to get that certification, so when I learned about AWS Solutions architect, I’m reading and it seemed hard. I was like “I don’t care how hard it is, I can do this,” because it didn’t require me to be in a role for 5-6 years before I could obtain this. This was something I could break down and obtain just by putting in the work. So I was like “Ok, so, AUZ. AUZ Solutions Architect,” andstill didn’t know about AWS.
So, I started researching who’s the best trainer, where can I go to learn this. Classes were $3,500-$4,000 and I’m like, “Aaah I’m not sure I can afford that now to try to learn something I’m not sure I’m gonna like.” So, as I was reading more and researching more into AWS, I realized I’d been using this all along with the Sneakers Servers, so I’m familiar a little bit with it. It’s not called “AUZ”, it’s called AWS. So I got to know that and I started going on Reddit and looking at communities, and Quora where people were talking about A Cloud Guru. I checked it out and really didn’t like that platform. Then people started talking about Linux Academy, and I got on Linux Academy and I was like “Dang, they’ve got labs.” That set it apart right there, you know, everything in one house. And I started seeing more and more people talking about how great it was. I just started learning from the concepts to the essentials to the Certified Solutions Architect. It took me a couple months to start, so I started in October and then I got my Solutions Architect in November, I believe, and then Certified Developer in December. Then SysOps Administrator, I went initially in January and failed it by 2%, and then I got it again in February. It was all about being consistent for me. I had to get myself ready to learn every day.
I had to really go to the communities and submerge myself in the material in the community and with the people. I knew if I let it go just for a couple days, that would turn into a habit to where, “Oh, I’ll get back to it next week.” I couldn’t do that, because I owe myself and my family more opportunities in life. Not just with pay, but just to show my children that whatever you put your mind to, you can do it.
Three certifications later I found myself looking for jobs. People were telling me I was impressive, but they weren’t hiring me. It’s a catch 22, where you’ve got to have experience, but where can you get that experience? Now, I can say all day this is what I’m doing on Linux Academy. I think that’s what got me in the door because they saw I had hands-on training. I was going to give up and go back to banking, but I had actually seen the Course Author position on Linux Academy, and I wasn’t going to apply. But I was thinking, “Just go ahead and apply. What’s the worst they can tell you, no like everybody else?” I actually didn’t get the Course Author position, but Tom told me about another open position, which is the AWS Content Support Manager role I’m in now.
What were your main goals when you starting with Linux Academy?
At that point, I was going for all seven certifications Well, I’m going for 8 now because I’m not going to get the Cloud Practitioner one, so when I started I was on a mission and try to do it within a year. After the third one, I thought to myself, “Let’s try to diversity and learn other skills as well, and try to find a job.” Initially starting, I was going all the way in, and I wanted to be the best and learn as much as I could learn about AWS.
Was there anything within the platform that really helped you while you were studying?
Hands-on labs, because I’m a person that if I see it one time, I can remember how to do it. If you show me how to do it, I can remember how to do it. Even though the lectures are good too, I can experiment from there and see what it allows me to do and what it doesn’t allow me to do. The hands-on labs were #1, and really making my decision of using Linux Academy to even study with. A Cloud Guru and other competitors had the lectures, everyone has the lectures, but it was just this experience that took it to the top. And the community, the Course Authors answering questions, and seeing that Anthony was really involved as well, made me make the decision of, “Alright, I do have a team to help me along if I get stuck.”
Were there any hurdles you faced during your studies, personally and/or professionally?
Personally, was sacrificing time to spend with my family. At times, I know my wife and kids wanted to spend time with me, but Daddy had to accomplish what he needed to accomplish. And they understood that, so now I have a job and I’m at home too. They don’t think I do nothing now LOL. But it paid off in the end. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice a little bit if it’s for the right things, and just stay focused. When I said I wanted to start this, I had people tell me that people in IT will eat you alive and that I can’t do this. And I’m like, “They don’t have some pre-genius bubble around them that says I was born this way, oh you can’t come here, how dare you think you can come into the cloud industry and learn,” haha!
So I was thinking okay, I’m gonna show them, hard work determination, consistency. And now those same people are asking me to send them information. That’s why I like doing what I’m doing now. Through all the things I’ve done, I’ve wanted people to see that they can do it too. I have so many people I know, that don’t know what they want to do in life, and believe they don’t have the skills to do something great. And they don’t know about this industry. They know about IT. But the cloud industry and learning Linux, they don’t know about that. They don’t know that the only thing you really need to invest in is your time and a laptop. As long as you have a laptop, the possibilities are endless, as long as you stay focused, sit down, and learn what you need to learn every day. That’s basically what I want to show people. To me, where I come from, and the environment I came from and the people that I know, I’m not where I know I will be in the next few years. But I think I’m a success story because I came from not knowing anything about AWS to getting a job with the company that taught me AWS. So if I can do it, anybody else who wants to get into this industry can do it also.
That’s very inspiring!
I hope so! I really hope they get the message! That’s why I’m on LinkedIn, just sharing positive messages and really trying to get people focused. I have people everyday inboxing me, and it’s like how do you let people know regardless of what they go through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel? Regardless of what their circumstances are, God said, “You can have whatever you want, everything you touch will be successful,” and that’s what I truly believe. Everything you touch will be successful. And make sure your cup will overflow and you’ll be able to bless people when you get to where you’re going. Now I’m here at my first IT position with Linux Academy, I feel it’s my opportunity to bless people with the opportunity that blessed me.
So what made you want to join the team? You said you weren’t going to apply for the job, but you ended up applying. What got you interested in working here?
I knew I was going to get it. God was like, “this is for you.” I feel it was because I was talking to Anthony telling him my story at the content summit, and he said it was funny because at the same Tom was saying he had the perfect person for this position and talked me into approving this position because I wasn’t going to approve it. That’s how I know, God didn’t give me what I applied for, he gave me what I needed. I wasn’t going to apply for it, and something said just do it. It all just ended up working out the way it did. Now I have to use it to propel myself and Linux Academy, to show people that we actually do change lives.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to a student studying for an exam, what would it be?
Time is not a factor. Students think they have to do this in a month and a half, no. Certifications are not going anywhere. Take your time, make sure you know the material, then go in there and do your best. Don’t worry about a time limit or try to knock it out in 30 days, then you go in the exam and fail, and think, “This isn’t for me.” Well, you just didn’t give yourself enough time. Time is not a factor, you have all the time in the world to get it done.
You failed one certification initially right? Which one was it?
It was the SysOps Administrator. I took it for granted, that was hard. The course is not hard, the exam is hard. The course is easy if you absorb it. At that time I was on a timeframe, I was thinking, “I’m gonna get all three certs in this time frame,” and I underestimated how hard the SysOps exam really was. When I failed it, I told my wife, “Maybe this is not for me,” and she told me, “You can take it again in fourteen days.” LOL. That’s why I say time is not a factor. Put time into the time you want to dedicate to it, but don’t put time as a deadline. In the end, it’s just going to keep you from doing the best you could do.
What did you do to study to prepare for the next time you took the exam?
Hands-on labs. The lectures get you there, it’s the experience sometimes when they throw the trick questions at you. You know you’ve already seen how it works on LA labs, and you’ve tried different scenarios so you know what works and what doesn’t.
What’s next for you? You’re going to say Linux Academy for the rest of your life, right Broadus?
Hey, I love this company! Right now I’m studying the DevOps Engineer Pro, then the Solutions Architect Pro, and I want to get all of the certifications. I don’t have a deadline, but that’s what I want to do for the next year, just study and get as many certifications in AWS and learn as much as I can. My goal now is to become a Training Architect. Well, initially I wanted to, but I have this dream, LOL, more like an idea. When they hire others, let me be the head of that. Let me show them how to be successful with this position. I love standing front-line with the students. It helps build me to the best I can be. If I can somehow train and be Head of Content Support, I don’t know haha, but from a company perspective now, I just want to be a Training Architect and seeing where it takes me from there.