How one Ukrainian found a new career path with ITSkills4U

by Training and Certification Blog Editor | on

In February 2022, as her friends and colleagues debated the possibility of war breaking out in Ukraine, Julia refused to entertain the idea. The prospect of a 21st century conflict in the heart of Europe seemed ludicrous. Confident that nothing bad would happen, she celebrated her birthday in early February by splurging on some project management and organizational innovation courses. After all, she had ambitious plans to either get a promotion at the bank she worked for, or find a new, non-HR-related role.

But on February 24, her world was turned upside-down as missiles began raining down on Ukraine. Huddled in a Kyiv basement, Julia struggled to accept her new reality. When her employer offered relocation to Warsaw, Poland, she hesitated. “It meant leaving my whole life, and everything I cared about behind, and going to a country where I didn’t know the people, language, culture, or laws. It was the hardest decision of my life, but I ultimately decided to do it.”

Once in Poland, Julia continued to work remotely as an IT recruiter for the bank. But as she settled back into something of a routine, her pre-war ambitions resurfaced. In September, she saw an opening on a job board to join ITSkills4U as a Customer Service Coordinator. Developed by Amazon Web Services (Amazon Web Services), ITSkills4U is a free workforce development program to provide cloud computing skills and career training to Ukrainians. She thought the job would be a good fit for her background and career aspirations, so she applied.

“They asked me a lot of questions about my experience as a refugee in Poland,” said Julia. “I think they really cared about making sure I would be a good advocate for the program.” A week later Julia learned that she’d been selected for the role. “I was so happy that they offered me the job. They called me on a Friday and by Monday I was already in the office.”

photo of Julia standing next to a sign for ITSkills4U

Julia

Julia’s role supporting ITSkills4U is multifaceted. She works closely with applicants, guiding them through course selection, and sharing her personal journey. She’s also found a passion for process improvement that led her to work on the development of a new Customer Relationship Management system to address growing interest in the program. And Julia is not just helping guide people interested in ITSkills4U – she actually took the leap herself, enrolling in the Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner program and earning her certification. This firsthand experience has been a big help in her daily work. “My goal is to have the best possible understanding of the journey and uncover what might be difficult or confusing along the way, especially for people without IT experience.”

One surprise for Julia was the multitude of people from different backgrounds who can benefit from the program. “I used to believe that the cloud was a niche skill, reserved for people who are already doing very technical IT jobs. But people from nearly every industry can get Amazon Web Services Certified and leverage their experience in a cloud company, ending up in a much better place career-wise,” she remarked. “It can be the difference between being ignored or taken seriously as a job applicant. I think Ukrainians are starting to understand this, and we even have refugees living in North America who join the training late at night.”

Julia is grateful for the opportunity ITSkills4U provided her to kickstart her career, learn new skills, meet interesting people, and acquire the most in-demand cloud certification from Amazon Web Services. She’s also getting more comfortable with her new life in Warsaw. “Polish culture is different from Ukraine, but there are a lot of similarities. I’ve learned some Polish, and the people here have been very welcoming. I also get to work in a beautiful area with stunning 18th century-style buildings. I love that I’m able to help my fellow Ukrainians every day even while living outside of the country.”

Developed by Amazon Web Services, ITSkills4U is a free, cloud computing workforce development program for Ukrainians. The comprehensive program offers self-paced learning, Amazon Web Services instructor-led training, exam preparation, language classes, and career support services. With a diverse enrollment of IT professionals, individuals with some experience, and those with no IT background, the program has garnered support from the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and the Polish Government. More than 40 Amazon Web Services customers and Amazon Web Services Partners serve as ITSkills4U employment partners, and ITSkills4U works alongside education institutions, Amazon Web Services Training Partners, and Amazon Web Services re/Start collaborating organizations to deliver the curriculum. The program is funded by Amazon Web Services with contributions from donors, and led in partnership with Polish NGO ZPP.

If you’re a Ukrainian interested in expanding your job opportunities in non-IT roles, switching to IT, or advancing your IT career, start your journey today .