Navigating change: From ophthalmologist to Amazon Web Services Cloud expert

by Ryan Murray | on

Ivan YalovetsIvan

Ivan Yalovets and his wife were busy planning their honeymoon in February 2022 when the Russian invasion of Ukraine quickly scuttled their plans. As a result of the invasion, Ivan lost his job in clinical research when the company shut down. Faced with a war raging very close to home in Zaporizhzhia, Ivan and his wife had to make some tough decisions.

Prior to working in clinical research, Ivan was a skilled eye surgeon. His career started in a military hospital before he shifted to a civilian setting to find a better work-life balance. The profession, though, brought its own set of challenges, including long hours and financial constraints. And while he liked being a doctor, the medical profession never felt like quite the right fit for him. “I never felt passionate about it,” he reflected. “I was a pretty good doctor actually, but it just isn’t what I had expected from a career. In Ukraine, it’s a very stressful job with low pay.”

As the war began to rage in February and March of 2022, Ivan and his wife decided to move to Lviv in Western Ukraine. They were delayed by a loss of communication with Ivan’s parents, who were stuck in a war-torn area. “They lived just outside of Mariupol and we had no contact with them for weeks. I was so relieved when I finally heard from them. They managed to escape and then relocated to Kyiv.” While leaving home was a tough decision, Ivan feels it was ultimately the right one for him and his family. The wisdom of this decision became even more apparent two months ago, when his former apartment complex in Zaporizhzhia was hit and partially destroyed by a Russian rocket.

Once in the relative safety of Lviv, Ivan seized the opportunity to take a hard look at his career, finally accepting that the medical profession was not his true calling. Instead, he decided on a career in IT. “I’ve always been the computer guy amongst my family and friends,” said Ivan. “I loved to play around with computers in my spare time and realized that it was how I wanted to spend the rest of my career.”

Ivan’s new career focus began formally in October 2022, when he stumbled upon the Amazon Web Services ITSkills4U program . Despite his limited knowledge of cloud computing, he embarked on a journey of learning, obtaining his first Amazon Web Services Certification, Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner , within two months. “The instructor was amazing, and the course was difficult but also very interesting. It opened my eyes to a new world,” he shared.

Driven by curiosity, Ivan pursued the Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification in March 2023. The intensity of ITSkills4U tested his limits, prompting him to seek hands-on experience to truly comprehend the technical concepts. Through ITSkills4U, he connected with an Amazon Web Services Partner in Poland offering an internship in cloud computing, an opportunity he described as “invaluable.”

Ivan’s quest for knowledge continued as he enrolled in the six-month Cloud & DevOps Academy at EPAM University’s Master’s Program and AGH University, further honing his skills. Volunteers who aided his English language development added to his support network. While it was hard to be away from his home city, and difficult to start a brand new career, Ivan has no regrets. “I want a full-time job in the industry. Getting these Amazon Web Services Certificates really opened doors to help me find work. I’m really grateful to Amazon Web Services for supporting Ukrainians like myself improve our lives during an otherwise terrible time.”

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.