Maggie Ortiz Fischer (second from left) takes a break with the other productOps interns

I was afraid I would have to accept my first offer no matter how little it appealed to me and was concerned I wouldn’t be able to develop my interests before obtaining a diploma.

Passionate about computer engineering after my first year at UC Santa Cruz, I wanted my internship to be a valuable one, even if it meant driving to San Jose between classes. Luckily, I didn’t need to. I discovered productOps in downtown Santa Cruz, a few bus stops from campus.

I realized productOps was unique during my first interview. Rather than asking about my GPA, Dean, Julie, and Cameron wanted to know about my interest in volunteer-based travel, music performance, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification I had been working on, and how my personality might fit with the company. They asked me what I wanted to learn instead of telling me what my interests should be.

My first few weeks at productOps were overwhelming, spent learning about various AWS tools to work towards my Solutions Architect certification. Cloud computing has become the leading certification for IT professionals. Amazon’s cloud is 10 times bigger than its next 14 competitors, combined. I was also pleased to find out that AWS-certified IT staff make nearly 30% more than the industry average for certified professionals.

After a brief training period, and to my surprise, I was put on real projects. I was contributing much more than I would have imagined while moving in the direction I wanted to take my career. Soon, with the help of my mentors, clients were using cloud services I had played a part in setting up.

Nine months later, three more interns were hired for the summer and we started an internal project together. Each of us took on a different portion of the application in an area where we had little or no experience. For me, that was AWS architecture, while the others took over the user interface and API backend. One and a half months later we had all become mini-experts in our own portion, and our architectural decisions were respected.

Now a full year has passed and I am automating cloud tools with Python and Stacker from the command line. I have joined the operations team in building a vast knowledge base of AWS. I never expected to learn so much about the software industry. My ultimate career goal is to be an operations manager at an innovative company in Silicon Valley, and the support from my mentors and fellow interns at productOps has pushed me farther toward that goal than I thought possible.