You’re an ambitious but humble person, with a hunger to learn. You’re passionate about sharing the power of cloud computing with the world and meeting others who feel the same. You may also feel uncertain if really ‘good enough’ for this program or where to get started.
Don’t worry; there are hundreds of us out there. In fact, we even have a name for ourselves.
Welcome, you’re a potential AWS Community Builder! And this is the resource I wish I’d had when I first considered applying.
How do you apply?
Applications are open twice a year by AWS and can be made on the AWS Community Builder page; the best and most up-to-date resource on the process. The application will ask for information both about yourself and your involvement in the AWS Community.
Prospective Community Builders from backgrounds not traditionally represented in the tech sector are highly encouraged to apply!
This is also a great stepping stone for anyone who wants to progress in the AWS Community. While there’s no formal pathway or shortcuts for anyone asking “How to become an AWS Hero?” becoming a Community Builder is an excellent place to start. In fact during the first half of 2022, over 75% of all new AWS Heroes started out as Community Builders.
What are they looking for?
There’s no secret, and the AWS Community Builder page explains it best:
“AWS enthusiasts and emerging thought leaders who are passionate about sharing knowledge and connecting with the technical community”
No specific criteria are set, so don’t worry about needing to publish ten blog posts, shot five YouTube videos, requiring three years of industry experience, or anything like that. Some people aren’t the best at particular things, and that’s okay.
Conversely, there’s also no shortcut criteria. It’s not enough simply to have spent years building on AWS, nor to have attained any number of certifications.
The key is that they want people eager to share their excitement and passion for all things AWS with the wider community.
What should I do to get involved?
Even with a passion for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for AWS, it can be hard to know where to start.
There are many different ways you can get involved, so find the ways which work best for you. Here’s a few tips on the kind of activities you can take part in:
AWS User Groups and similar meetups are a great way to get involved in the AWS Community and meet others interested in your local area.
This doesn’t mean you need to create or lead a group on your own. Most groups are happy to have others willing to help, and an excellent place to start is talking with the organizers. This could be helping set up the venue, working with sponsors, organizing catering, or coordinating speakers. Which brings us to the next idea…
📣 Public Speaking
Meetup Groups are absolutely crying out for more speakers for their events, and in the pandemic era of virtual meetups, your options are more varied than ever, with meetups around the world.
Most groups don’t need you to be an expert or a veteran keynote speaker. Identify topics you’re knowledgeable and experienced in and projects you can discuss as a starting point.
Reach out to the organizers of Meetup groups, and chat with them. Most are very willing to work with you to find a topic their audience would be interested in. Don’t worry if this isn’t the option for you; there are plenty of others!
Sharing your ideas through blogging is another brilliant way to get involved in the AWS Community and far less intimidating. And with platforms like dev.to, it’s easier than ever to get started.
Here are a few topics you might blog about:
- Answer a question you’ve had to solve yourself - Found a tricky ‘gotcha’ that AWS doesn’t make clear in their documentation? Chances are other people have had that question too
- Review a new AWS service - New services get released every other week, and most people don’t get a chance to try them. Give it a try, and share your initial thoughts
- Share your experience from a project - Even a somewhat dull project is a learning opportunity. You may have run into limitations when using CloudFormation, which meant you had to use Terraform. This lesson might benefit others
Ideas that are worth sharing should be shared. It’s also a great way to build your professional writing skills. Writing a guide on making an S3 bucket isn’t contributing knowledge to the AWS Community, but how you may have used it to store static objects on your company’s website to save money has valuable outcomes for the readers.
💻 Reddit and Forums
Not everything you write needs to be an article, and helping people on Reddit is also really useful. Subreddits like /r/aws are both a great place to share your knowledge and learn from others.
Participating in discussions also opens your mind to other scenarios beyond what you might deal with in your day job. Helping others is a great way to expand your own knowledge.
Beyond just Reddit, there’s also other sites like Stack Overflow, Spiceworks, or the AWS Forums which are great ways to share your knowledge with others.
📱 Social Media
We also have a great opportunity to share our thoughts and learn from each other through social media, including some of the titans of our industry.
Twitter and LinkedIn are the two most popular platforms, with many people posting with the hashtags
#awscommunity. The community also extends to other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok (Forrest Brazeal’s cloud tunes get stuck in my head for weeks at a time…)
Looking for an excuse to start your own YouTube Channel? Here you go! Along with being a great way to share your knowledge, it’s also a great way to learn a new skill set in producing videos.
The types of content you can create are endless, from demonstrations of processes to building complete projects, short web series, or routine vlogs about your experiences in cloud technology.
If you’ve never made a YouTube video before, check out this outstanding guide from my friend and Azure MVP, Gwyneth Peña-Siguenza, and her 7-day-cloud-youtube-starterkit, walking you through the steps to your first video. Don’t worry about lots of fancy equipment; you can make do with a half-decent phone!
Another great option if you’d rather not be on camera. This could either be hosting your own podcast or being a guest on podcasts hosted by others.
If you know of any great podcasts on cloud technology, reach out to the hosts; there’s usually a link in the show notes if they’re looking for guests. Some sites also help podcasters find guests for their shows, which can help you connect to show hosts.
If you’re interested in hosting your own, find a niche, and plan out your first few episodes. Identify friends and colleagues who may be interested in becoming guests for an episode. They also don’t need to be hour-long episodes, and you might favour shorter lightning talk discussions.
🛠️ Build things
This isn’t just about building things on AWS as part of your day job, although that can provide lessons worth sharing. Build things in the cloud as part of your side projects, and share them with the community.
These could be publicly available services that help others, built on AWS technologies. Tools that you use to make building in the cloud easier, that you make available as open source to share with others. You might even work to document open source projects relating to AWS.
Unsure where to start? Chat with others who may already be doing similar work.
Can I ask anyone for advice?
Of course! One of the best resources is to chat with AWS Community Builders. There’s plenty of us out there, and you may already know some!
Search LinkedIn for any AWS Community Builders in your network, and reach out. You may also know Community Builders through your local AWS User Group or other Meetups.
Do I need to have published anything?
The program is designed for those enthusiasts and thought leaders who are out there, creating content and engaging the community. There are so many opportunities in the program to supercharge your journey, but it’s up to you to have started it.
Having done things to make a positive impact in the AWS Community, whether it’s having written content, spoken at events, or anything else is an essential part of the application process. It’s easy to be able to tell people that you could do those things, but it’s much more powerful to show what you already have done.
If you’ve already done those things and can show them in your application, your likelihood of being accepted goes up. Likewise, if you haven’t made those first steps, your application may not be successful in this round.
What if I don’t get in?
The program is competitive, and not everyone will be accepted on their first application. And that’s okay.
Applications rounds reopen twice a year, so there will be more opportunities. Using some of the tips from the article and advice from other Community Builders, you can also strengthen your application next time. Your chance of success only ever improves.
There’s only one surefire way to know if you’ll succeed, and that’s to apply.
Every one of us is excited to welcome you! 🙌
Thanks to the hundreds of people who have shared this blog post since it was first published, and given their feedback.
Special thanks to Jason Dunn (@jasondunn, Brooke Jamieson (@brooke_jamieson, Wendy Wong (@abc_wendsss), and Lou Bichard (@loujaybee and @openupthecloud) for their insights and suggestions. Please check out their work, as they’re all excellent at what they do.