S’porean student who didn’t have home Internet access shares how he developed passion for cloud computing

Learning never stops.

| Matthias Ang | Sponsored | June 11, 2022, 11:00 AM

“I have always been a curious guy since I was young. I have always been wondering how things work,” Aqil Hidayat, a cloud solutions engineer for tech company Pointstar told me over our Zoom interview.

This even includes going to the Public and Utilities Board (PUB) website to find out the “simplest things”, such as where water in the tap comes from, he said.

Such a search is emblematic of how Aqil spent his time at LAN shops, as his family was not well-to-do and did not have an Internet service subscription at home.

He said: “There were a lot of things that I just didn’t get to experience, like having my own WiFi.”

LAN shops were therefore where “I had all my questions answered for me,” Aqil said.

This includes cloud computing.

The engineer pointed to 2008 as the moment that cloud computing began to gain prominence and capture his attention, when Amazon started the platform Amazon Web Services (AWS).

As a result of his searches on cloud computing, his interest in it began to grow, until he eventually decided to pursue a Diploma in Information Technology in Republic Polytechnic (RP).

Matched with a supportive company under the Work-Study programme

Following his graduation and the completion of his National Service, Aqil was subsequently employed by Pointstar, a company that partners Republic Polytechnic under its Work-Study programme.

According to Aqil, it was the second company to reach out to him after his facilitators sent out his CV to several firms.

It also has an ethos of supporting its employees seeking to upgrade themselves.

Such support is why Aqil has since embarked on a second course at RP to obtain a Specialist Diploma in Cloud Architecting & Management under the polytechnic’s Academy for Continuing Education(ACE).

When I asked Aqil if he has encountered any challenges in balancing his work, studying for his second diploma and leisure time, he replied that this has not been the case at all.

Pointstar’s support includes the flexibility allowing him to leave work earlier at 4.30pm instead of between 5pm to 6pm, which means he is able to grab dinner before his class begins.

He is also allowed to take time off every few weeks, so that he can focus on his schoolwork.

With regards to his timetable, Aqil told me that classes for the course are on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are used for completing his coursework.

This means that he is able to set aside his weekend for his fiancé and family.

Applicants for the Work-Study programme should have the passion for what they are studying

On the topic of would-be applicants of the Work-Study programme, Aqil shared that having passion and a strong foundation are key, especially for a subject like cloud computing.

“Make sure that you are really into cloud computing, not just because you see that it is making big money,” he said.

There is also a lot of technical jargon, given the broad scope that cloud computing covers including development, networking and infrastructure.

Here, Aqil noted that some students have dropped out since the course began, likely due to various factors such as a lack of motivation or challenges in juggling work and studies.

“So I think my advice is to make sure that you really have the passion for IT and cloud computing at the foundational level,” he said.

Where does he see himself going from here?

For Aqil, the next step is to begin familiarising himself with other cloud computing platforms.

Currently, the three major platforms used worldwide are AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Microsoft Azure.

Aqil highlighted that each of these platforms have their own technical specifications and many cloud engineers usually focus on specialising in a specific platform.

For Aqil, his aim is to become a multi-cloud architect, who is knowledgeable of all three platforms.

Aqil added that currently, he specialises in AWS, due to his own interest in it since young, and GCP as well, due to it being the main platform that his company works with.

“No matter what platform the client wants, I will be able to do it without redirecting it to my other colleagues,” he said.

“In the long run, you will build good rapport with your customer, and you get to work with them all the way,” he said.

Sound advice.

What are the courses offered under RP ACE?

The courses offered under RP ACE span Part-Time Diplomas, Specialist Diplomas and Work-Study Programmes this October.

To find out more about the 21 courses, you can sign up for the Course Preview, happening on June 21-23.

This article is sponsored by Republic Polytechnic.

Top photos courtesy of Aqil Hidayat