Farhan Zainudin
Farhan Zainudin Author of mamlukzephyr.com. Currently working as a Cloud Engineer is Malaysia.

Cheatsheet for AWS TECH U Associate Solutions Architect

Cheatsheet for AWS TECH U Associate Solutions Architect

*This guide is created based on the author’s experience on applying, preparing and going through the AWS interview session for the Tech U Associate Solutions Architect position on 2019.

*Disclaimer

  1. The author was not offered the position.
  2. This guide contains mostly things that can be found in the AWS interview sites itself with a little bit of flavour added by the author.

WHAT IS AWS TECH U ASSOCIATE SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT?

As a Commercial Sales Associate Solutions Architect, you will be part of AWS Tech U, which is an accelerated career development program for those who want to advance both their technical and business skills. The Program will provide you with training and work experience that aligns in the fields of Solutions Architecture, Technical Training and Professional Service Consulting.

This unique program consists of a 6-month instructor lead, project-based learning curriculum ( followed by a 6-month On-the-Job Training (OJT) learning assignment within Solutions Architecture, Technical Training, or Professional Services Consulting, located in Singapore.

Yes, this is based on the job description which you can refer more from the link below:

https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/tech-u-associate-solutions-architect-2020-malaysia-at-amazon-web-services-aws-1621238746/?originalSubdomain=my

Sounds interesting? Okay now proceed.

HOW TO APPLY?

Generally, there are a few ways that you can do to apply for the position:

  1. Apply it through https://www.amazon.jobs/en/
  2. Apply it through https://www.linkedin.com/ which eventually will redirect you to amazon jobs portal.
  3. Get someone to refer you for the position. Haaaaaa you must be asking like how right? I don’t know anyone in AWS. How can I get a referral?

I applied through method 1 and 3. But I think method 3 is how I was accepted for the interview. What you can do is try to connect with one of the AWS staff in LinkedIn. Show to them that you’re passionate about cloud computing and you’re really interested in the position. Most of them are really friendly and will answer your questions as long as you have shown some effort in it.

THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

AWS will usually have a few interview stages before you were accepted to be one of Amazonian. For this position, I had to go through two stages.

  1. Phone interview (Technical Interview)
  2. Onsite interview (Technical + Behavioral)

PHONE INTERVIEW (TECHNICAL INTERVIEW)

During this phase, someone from AWS will call you for an online phone interview using Amazon Chime. The session will be around 1 hour and will be split between technical, behavioural and Q&A session. Yes, it is split into three categories, but the main questions will be about your technical knowledge. The following are the few topics that will be covered for the interview session:

  1. Take some time to learn about Amazon, get to know our business teams, and “meet” a few Amazonians.
  2. Leadership Principles. There are 14 of them and you need to be able to relate it based on your experience in order to answer their behavioural questions.
  3. Networking fundamentals, Security, Databases (Relational and/or NoSQL), Operating Systems (Unix, Linux, and/or Windows)
  4. Systems administration (Linux/Window), network administration (DNS, IPsec, BGP, VPN, Load Balancing), or programming (Node.JS, Java, Ruby, C#, Python, or PHP)
  5. Databases: While we don’t expect any particular level of expertise with non-relational databases, you should be familiar with broad database concepts and their applications. The more you know about tradeoffs between relational and non-relational databases, the better prepared you will be.
  6. Networking: Brush up on how browsers function at a high level, from DNS lookups and TCP/IP, to socket connections. Having a solid understanding of the fundamentals of how the worldwide web works is a requirement.
  7. Operating System: You should be familiar with some OS topics that can affect code performance (e.g. memory management, processes, threads, synchronization, paging, and multithreading).
  8. Distributed computing: Understanding topics such as service-oriented architectures, map-reduce, distributed caching, load balancing, and others, will help you formulate answers to some of the more complicated distributed architecture questions you might encounter.

I know this list might be a little bit overwhelming but this is what AWS put in their phone interview guideline. My recommendation is for you to prepare more on the technical side because that is the main purpose of this stage. Still interested? Okay, keep on reading

ON-SITE-INTERVIEW (TECHNICAL + BEHAVIORAL)

Based on my experience, this will be your last round of interview. Woohoo! but don’t be happy just yet… because to be completely honest, AWS On-site-interview was the most difficult interview at least based on my experience. But hey I am not you and you’re not me! So you might be able to pull it off and make it to the end 💪 😄 Following are the general guideline from AWS:

What to expect

  • You will meet with 4 Amazonians in a process called a loop interview. The mix of interviewers will include managers and peers that make up the organization. This will be a combination of technical and non-technical interviews.
  • Each meeting will be one-on-one interview sessions lasting approximately 45–60 minutes. On occasion, an Amazonian may shadow your interview for our own training and development. Rest assured this does not mean you are being interviewed by a panel, the shadow interviewer would only be observing the main interviewer.

How to Prepare

  • Make sure you are fully aware of the role requirements and responsibilities (re-read and familiarize yourself with the job description).
  • Familiarize yourself with the attached Amazon Leadership Principles. We recommend reviewing each one and preparing a couple of examples from your past experience that shows how your experience aligns. e.g. Customer Obsession — When was the last time you went above and beyond to meet the needs of a customer?
  • Amazon interviewers use a behavioural interview technique known as STAR. You will be asked to describe a situation you were in, Task you had to do, Actions you personally undertook in that situation and the results you achieved from these actions. The behavioural questions will relate specifically to our Leadership Principles and you are likely to cover technical elements in relation to the role in your answers.
  • Be yourself! We want to get to know you better and gauge your fit for Amazon. Remember, this is also an opportunity to ask questions and see if we are a good fit for you! Come equipped with insightful questions for your interviewers.

MY Final Thoughts

  • Please make sure that you read about the 14 Leadership Principles (LP). This principle is what makes Amazon unique and they wholeheartedly devoted to it. You can clearly see their behaviour, the way they speak and explain will always be based on this 14 LP. Review and create at least 2 stories for each LPs (2*14 = 28 stories) related to your past experience using a STAR method. Use the following link for better understanding about the 14 LPs and STAR method
    • https://www.amazon.jobs/en/principles
    • https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/in-person-interview
  • For the technical part, they will be asking you multiple questions like a machine gun hahaha I am not even kidding. You need to know about OS, Networking, Databases, Distributed System, Machine Learning and etc. The representative will ask you questions after questions because they want to know your current knowledge level.
  • They will also be asking you about the past project that you have worked on. Be prepared as they will drill you to the bottom for this. You need to be able to answer based on the 5W + 1H (Why, When, Who, What, Where + How). The example of a scenario is like this.
    • “I have developed a mobile application for my previous project using Java” — Your statement
    • “Why you choose Java over Kotlin?” -Interviewer
    • “Why you choose to build the application in native instead of hybrid solution?” — Interviewer
    • “You must have encountered some problem during the development, Can you describe How did you solve the problem” -Interviewer
  • Prepare your question for the interviewer session. Make sure to ask questions that show your interest in the job. For example:
    • May I know what did you like about working in AWS? — Ice breaker
    • Is there any kind of e-learning platform that will be provided? — Shows that you are someone who wants to have continuous improvement.
    • What is the day-to-day task for this role? -For you to know more about the role
    • As far as I am concern, Solution Architect (SA) is a position that requires extensive experience and technical know-how on Software Development and IT. How AWS is going to make sure that a fresh graduate like me will be able to reach that expectation? — Shows that you have make some research about SA and getting to know how AWS is going to guide you to be one.
  • If you have time, you can read this book to increase your knowledge about a job interview in FANG and how they are building their system/application.
    • https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Coding-Interview-Programming-Questions/dp/0984782850
    • https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Data-Intensive-Applications-Reliable-Maintainable/dp/1449373321
  • One last recommendation is for you to binge-watch Dan Croitor youtube playlist. He has created almost 100 videos that are related to Amazon Interview and I must say that most of his videos are spot on! His youtube channel is linked below:
    • https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw0uQHve23oMWgQcTTpgQsQ/featured

“Time is your enemy, goreng will not work” -One of the AWS Staff said to me. After reading all of this I think you got the idea why I put that quote. What I meant here is that you need to be prepared as much as possible. If you’re planning to apply for this role I am recommending you to be prepared at least more than 1 month before the final interview. When you got the news that you passed your phone interview, straight away be prepared for your on-site-interview. If you’re lucky, your on-site-interview might be delayed a few times and you can prepare more for your big day.

So, after reading all this do you still wanted to apply for the position? If yes, then congratulations 🎊 . In my opinion, the interview should be hard because AWS is currently the market leader in Cloud Computing and they are the pioneer of it. So it makes sense right? They also provide a lot of benefits for their staff which you can find below for increasing your motivation:

  • https://www.amazon.jobs/en/benefits/global

If you need more info you can always reach me at:

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/farhan-zainudin/ — LinkedIn
  • https://t.me/Farhan_Zainudin — Telegram

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