New Tech Presenter Alumni Spotlight: Maria Petrova, AWS Skills Center Seattle

Each week in the New Tech Newsletter we feature a Spotlight Q&A with founders, angels, New Tech alumni presenters, and other people or companies in our community we believe you’d like to learn about. Reach out if you’d like to recommend a startup, founder, angel, accelerator, or New Tech alumni presenter for us to spotlight for the PNW tech community!

In this week’s spotlight we caught up with Maria Petrova, AWS Skills Center Seattle Lead.

Maria PetrovaCloud Computing Services - Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Why do you do what you do for a living?
Being part of AWS for almost seven years, I am constantly learning and growing. The best part of my job is that no day is the same and I have opportunities to innovate, find solutions in meaningful way, and learn new things. As the AWS Skills Center Seattle Lead, I am able to introduce the cloud and cloud computing to anyone in the greater Seattle community. I partner with our training team and to provide foundational skills training to students in-person in Seattle and virtually across the globe. I really enjoy creating new opportunities for people with a desire to learn by engaging local communities through outreach programs. I love being able to share my passion for this growing field with others, and to help them get the skills they need to reskill or upskill in a meaningful way – all for free.

Tell us about the mission behind AWS Skills Center?
The AWS Skills Center launched in November 2021 and it is designed to help people with little or no technology background start their cloud career journey. We believe cloud computing education is one of the most impactful opportunities for professional growth; our mission is to invite new foundational learners to discover, learn, and build with us to pursue their potential in the cloud.

How does your venue serve the tech community?
The AWS Skills Centers serve the tech community in a number of ways. We provide free foundational training for anyone who is curious about the cloud, which can help grow cloud talent for the local communities. At the AWS Skills Centers, we strive to build strong relationships with local communities by engaging them through various programs. We have community classrooms programs, where we partner with organizations to bring our training on-site, introduce people to our offerings, and build relationships with members of the community. We also host field trips for high school students. Students can discover how the cloud powers the way we live, and participate in different activities while learning about computing roles and careers. Additionally, the Center hosts networking events for the local tech communities. At our events, people can join local tech Meet Up groups, learn more about cloud jobs, and engage with our team and others interested in tech.

What is the one piece of advice you would share today with your younger self before you got in to tech?
The best advice I would give my younger self is to follow my passions. I would tell myself not to listen to anyone who says that tech is not for me and I would stand up for my dreams. And lastly, I would say that difficult and hard decisions are solvable by addressing them immediately and carefully.

What is something interesting and unexpected that people would be surprised to learn about you?
The most unique thing is that I am from Bulgaria and moved to Seattle about 25 years ago without knowing any English. I am still very much in love with my home country and very lucky to have family and friends there and have the chance to visit often. Today, I am fully bilingual and I work very hard to teach my kids how to speak and write and pass on every tradition there is. I love my current job because I have the opportunity to do what I am passionate about which is providing learning opportunities to everyone, not just at home but also at work as well, for free.

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