May 16, 2022

Debunking myths about careers in data centers: Q&A with AWS

myths about working in data centres

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with AWS

Your first thought about working in a data center might be this: a cold dark room with blinking lights, and a bunch of tech heads. 

But Jennifer Sims, Senior Data Centre Operations Technician, Amazon Web Services (AWS), says it’s so much more than that.  

As caretakers of customers’ workloads running on AWS Cloud, Jennifer and her team use their analytical skills to resolve all types of issues. This ranges from repairing small parts, such as cooling fans, to complex troubleshooting, such as networking and server equipment repairs throughout the AWS fleet. 

We spoke with Jennifer about what it’s like working in a data center and at AWS

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job? 

A: I love that every day has a new challenge. To troubleshoot, you might need to replace a disk or plug-in cables. But we’re always delving into the deep depths of systems as a remedy or to solve issues for our customers. This ensures our systems are available and accessible to our customers.

Q: How do you think your role has an impact? 

A: Our customers know AWS will quickly resolve issues without a fuss by putting them first. If something unexpected occurs, they know we’ll bring the best teams together to get them back online as quickly as possible. 

Q: What sets AWS apart from other employers? 

A: Our culture is collaborative, fun, relaxed and open. You’ll never hear someone say, “that’s not my job.” Everyone is willing to work with other groups. We all work together with a single goal and vision: to give our customers a great experience with AWS.  

One more thing: I love that we have a well-stocked kitchen so we can do our best at work.

Q: What was your first impression of AWS? 

A: When I first joined, I received an eLearning induction that felt very “corporate”. But my perceptions quickly changed. 

I knew I’d made the right decision to work here when I gained so much support from my managers. They push me out of my comfort zone. They never say: “just do your job”. They empower you to make decisions at scale, with our customers front of mind.

Q: What employee benefits have meant the most to you? 

A: We’re provided with health insurance as part of our employee package, even in Australia. This is important to me because when I’m not at work, you’ll find me playing a high-energy sport or racing to rescue the community. 

I’ve been a volunteer firefighter with the Country Fire Authority for more than eight years, and a roller derby skater with the Kingston City Rollers for five years. 

I know if I need healthcare, I won’t be stuck waiting forever to get assistance! 

myths about working in data centres

Q: What are some of the common myths about working in a data center? Are they true or false? 

A: It isn’t just working in a cold, dark room. We have engineers, software developers and more who all work together. You don’t have to be a “nerd” – although, it can help when you have to dig deep into any issues! You just need to have an analytical mind to logically work through issues.

Q: What kind of career experience would allow people to pivot into a role in a data center or at AWS? 

A: Anyone with an analytical mind would be the perfect fit in a data center or at AWS in general. Maybe you’re a “problem manager”, or in IT, or you’re involved in resolving escalation problems. 

Sometimes, finding solutions isn’t as simple or obvious as replacing parts. Provided you can work logically to resolve any issues, you’ll do well. 

Q: How does AWS support people from ‘non-traditional’ career paths to thrive in their careers? 

A: AWS provides ongoing training and support through mentoring, access to training courses and classes. You can also work with other teams, such as support groups to understand bigger problems and how they’ve been solved. We receive access to AWS certifications too.  

AWS offers a range of professional development and mentoring opportunities to grow your career.

Find out more about this and their other employee benefits.

Q: What are some application tips for people looking to pivot into a career at AWS from a ‘non-traditional’ career background? 

A: Read the position description on thoroughly and identify how your work history aligns. Ensure you have examples of work experience that involve positively impacting and delighting customers. AWS is customer-centric in everything we do. 

Q: What would your high-school self say to you about your work now? What would you say to them in return? 

A: When I was studying paramedicine, I swore to myself: “You’ll never need math!” 

Well, sometimes you do… 

And just because you don’t get the score you want at the end of high school, it doesn’t mean you’re restricted in the types of jobs you can obtain. I attended TAFE to move into my current career, instead of going the traditional route and getting a university degree. 

There are so many great pathways that are often misunderstood. Tread your own path and choose a company that supports your growth and development! 

If you’re interested in working with a global company with a strong customer focus and collaborative, supportive teams, consider a career at Amazon Web Services. 

Want more articles like this sent to your inbox every month?

Just let us know what kind of support you’re looking for so we can sign you up to receive the right newsletter for you.

Stay in touch with our ‘Women at work’ newsletter

Enter your details to sign up to our newsletter for the women in our community. Every month you’ll be sent our latest news, advice, inspiration and resources for supporting your career.

Looking for HR and DEI updates?

Check out our monthly newsletter for HR professionals.

About the Author
Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with AWS