Top cloud project ideas to build your resume in 2022

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Trying to get a job in cloud? You’ll need more than just a certification or two. Hiring managers want to see that you have hands-on experience with cloud too.

While labs and tutorials are can be a helpful way to get started, you learn the most from open-ended cloud projects that require you to do the hard work of figuring out how to build something from a list of requirements. That’s how actual cloud teams build things. Building real projects will give you the confidence and skills you need to do well in a job interview, as well as on the job.

In the spirit of the Cloud Resume Challenge, here are some real-world cloud project prompts you can follow to help build your skills (and your resume) for different job roles.

An intro project for all cloud engineers: Build a serverless resume website

The Cloud Resume Challenge is a popular project for people preparing for a hands-on cloud career because it helps build skills on many of the technologies that real cloud and DevOps engineers use in their daily work…

• Source control (GitHub)

• Infrastructure as code (IaC)

• Cloud services and “serverless” architecture

• Continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD)

• Cloud networking, identity, and security

…all in the service of building something you can really use: a personal website that hosts your resume.

You can take on the AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud (GCP) version of the challenge now - it’s free! A version of the project using hosting provider Digital Ocean is also available.

For cloud administrators: Configure a VPC for a web application on AWS

The original Cloud Resume Challenge project is built on fully-managed “serverless” services like AWS Lambda, API Gateway, and DynamoDB. There are good reasons for that - for one thing, it’s a very inexpensive way to get introduced to cloud. But many cloud jobs require you to manage more traditional applications that are running on virtual machines (VMs), as well as the network connections between them.

If you need practice configuring that type of system, the Cloud Resume Challenge community has your back! This traditional web application cloud project will get you hands-on with key AWS components including load balancers, VPCs, and EC2 instances. Just be aware: you may end up spending a few dollars in cloud bills to get this running.

For cloud developers: Automate your cloud developer environment

If you want to think like a cloud developer, you have to get used to the idea that the resources you’re building are ephemeral: you should be able to delete and rebuild them at any time using infrastructure-as-code!

There’s no better way to get your head around that concept than to build an entirely disposable cloud environment: one where you can throw away your workspace at the end of the day and have it start up fresh tomorrow without losing anything. Jennine Townsend’s Disposable AWS Environment project, available in the Cloud Resume Challenge community repository, is a fun way to practice cloud developer hygiene and automation skills using AWS’s Cloud9 service.

For cloud security engineers: Secure your software supply chain

This project is written like an add-on to the Cloud Resume Challenge, but you can plug it in as an enhancement to other types of cloud projects, too. Cloud security is about more than just encrypting your data; it’s about making sure your code is safe from compromise at every stop between your laptop and the cloud, and that you know and trust your dependencies from the operating system all the way up to your application code.

The Secure Software Supply Chain challenge will introduce you to some of the tools the pros use to protect their software supply chains from attack, including software bills of materials (SBOMs), code signing, and automated vulnerability scanning.

For DevOps engineers: Terraform your web app

We’ve already mentioned infrastructure-as-code a couple of times in this blog; it’s perhaps the most characteristic tool in a cloud or DevOps engineer’s toolbox. Automating the lifecycle of cloud resources with tools like Terraform, CloudFormation, or Pulumi will keep you from being overwhelmed by the massive scale and fast pace of a cloud environment. That’s why so many cloud positions list these tools as required skills!

The Terraform challenge contributed to the Cloud Resume Challenge community repository by the mods of Reddit’s Experienced DevOps subreddit is styled after the take-home projects you might receive as part of a job interview.

For data engineers: Work with data on Kubernetes

Containers are the modern way code gets packaged and shipped to the cloud, and Kubernetes is by far the most popular framework for working with containers. Data engineers need to understand this tooling as much as anybody, because their job is often to create the pipelines and infrastructure that data flows through.

In this project written by Cloud Resume Challenge community member Daniel Dersch, you’ll get a chance to set up Kubernetes in the cloud and integrate it with some poular open-source data-handling tools like Prometheus and Grafana. The project is written for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), but you should be able to do it on AWS or Azure by swapping Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) or AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) in its place.

NEW: I just released an all-AWS version of the Cloud Resume Challenge Guidebook!

For cloud architects: Optimize event-driven processes

Finally, I can’t recommend enough this advanced challenge from Jennine Townsend that explores the nuances of working with asynchronous (event-based) processes on AWS. A good cloud architect has to think in terms of distributed systems, and this project will help you to do that by challenging your assumptions about when and how cloud services communicate with each other.

You can choose to do one of the projects above or several, depending on what kind of job you are looking for. But remember: all these projects are written to be open-ended and to place you at the center of the learning. Your goal is not to add buzzwords to your resume; it’s to dive deeply enough into cloud building that two things happen.

• You experience the pain of troubleshooting, which will give you great stories to tell in a job interview, and more importantly

• You will discover for yourself if you really want to work in the cloud, because these are the types of things that cloud engineers really do all day.

Good luck!

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