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Reinventing My Tech Background After Pandemic Setback

Picture of Jerry Stark

Jerry Stark

30+ Years

Picture of MGR. of Change & Problem Mngmt.

MGR. of Change & Problem Mngmt.

Kindred Healthcare

Picture of  Manager, Systems Engineering

Manager, Systems Engineering


Virtually everyone’s lives were upended as the result of the global COVID-19 crisis, including mine. Diminished economic activity in the wake of social distancing guidelines enacted to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus prompted a wave of layoffs in early 2020. Based in Louisville, Kentucky as a veteran technology professional, I was laid off from my job as a manager in April after eight and a half years, and decided I needed to take control of my post-COVID future by upgrading my skills.

As a 30-year veteran in the world of information technology, I was no stranger to upskilling, which is why I have been able to thrive in the industry for so long. I started my career as a programmer, worked as a developer, eventually moving into hardware support and database support. After the 2020 layoff, I took a pragmatic look at IT trends and realized that cloud computing was a growth industry with incredible career opportunities. 

I believe that companies today are looking toward cloud technology to shore up their business value at the end of the day. This is my rationale for choosing cloud computing as my next professional focus. Six months after receiving the pink slip, I am now a gainfully employed systems engineering manager for a health care payments platform company, thanks in no small part to Simplilearn’s Cloud Architect Master’s Program.

My story is proof positive that with the right motivation and training, professionals can recover and indeed thrive after experiencing a temporary setback due to events beyond their control. Learn how I leveraged Simplilearn’s unique online learning platform to reinvent my career.

The Challenge: Getting Back on Track After a Layoff 

I describe myself as a positive person, an admirable trait during such trying times. So, soon after I was laid off as part of a broader reduction in force at the health care services company where I handled change and problem management, I directed my attention toward solving my own change in career status. I was already intrigued with the seemingly endless potential of cloud computing and saw that advanced cloud skills were in high demand

I wanted to immerse myself in all aspects of cloud technology and gain hands-on experience with the three major cloud computing platforms: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). I was particularly intrigued with the expanding use of cloud technology for virtual machines, application servers, application services, web services, and so much more. 


While I was able to find classes on AWS or Azure, what I really wanted was a program that would provide a comprehensive and rigorous education in cloud computing that involved all three major cloud platforms. I searched online for programs that were comprehensive, effective, affordable, and flexible, and Simplilearn’s offerings consistently showed up at the top of the list. As I refined my search, I decided that Simplilearn had more to offer and its process looked intuitive to me.

My mind made up, I enrolled in Simplilearn’s seven-course Cloud Architect Master’s Program, covering the latest tools and methods across all three major cloud platforms.

Post Graduate Program In Cloud Computing
40+ Hands-On Projects and Integrated Labs

The Simplilearn Solution: Full Immersion in Cloud Architecture

With more than 60 live, instructor-led online classes, 100 hours of self-paced instructional videos, and 16 hands-on, industry-aligned projects to practice and demonstrate newly learned skills, the Cloud Architect Master’s Program requires a significant time investment. As of publication, I am well on my way to completing the program and receiving my Master’s Certificate from Simplilearn.

I really benefited from Simplilearn’s unique applied learning approach, which employs a combination of different learning approaches (such as live instructors, self-paced videos, and virtual labs. 

It had the perfect blend of live classes and self-learning videos. Doing the lab work, I was able to take book knowledge and equate it to hands-on knowledge. That really helped and shored up my understanding of the technology.

Being able to confidently apply what I have learned in real-life, on-the-job situations is key. I was genuinely impressed with the instructors’ knowledge and ability to help learners apply what they learned in the lectures and videos to a more real-life environment. After all, what good is knowing something if you can’t do it?   

I faced a couple of minor difficulties during the program, but said I was always able to get prompt assistance when I needed it. I also credit my family for their unfailing support, as I was unemployed but spending a significant amount of time during my studies. At times, I said, the learning sessions were particularly grueling, requiring four to six hours at a stretch. 

Regardless, I anticipated the challenges before I enrolled, and the courses have given me a lot of hope and excitement for the future.

The Results: Skilled Up and Ready for the Future

Although I am still working to complete the Cloud Architect Master’s Program, I am pleased with what I’ve learned (and able to apply professionally) so far. Since I started a new job in October, I am appreciative of the flexibility that will enable me to finish the program while still working full time. One of the skills I am proud of having acquired is the ability to create an EC2 instance, virtual product cloud, database, and web server on the AWS platform.

Most of all, my experience with Simplilearn reinforced my commitment to lifelong learning. 

It keeps me up to date on the latest IT technologies, but it also shows that I have the ability to learn. I also see continuing education as a crucial resource for corporations, both to leverage new technologies within the organization and to retain key talent.

Once I’ve completed the cloud program, I hope to spend a little more time playing music in the studio. I am an accomplished drummer, guitarist, and vocalist, and I even own a recording studio. 

A Note From Simplilearn: Continuing Education is the Key to a Future in Technology 

Most professionals today can expect to change careers and require new skills several times during their lifetimes. This is particularly true in the fields of technology, which are built on innovation by definition. What you learned as an undergrad is still important, but today’s tech talent will need to continually hone and update their skills. Whether you’ve been laid off as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, have already considered the need to upskill, or just starting out your career, Simplilearn has a lot to offer.