Q&A with Lindsie Dinh, AWS Consultant, on growing through challenge
Lindsie Dinh was in her second month as an AWS Consultant at PREDICTif when 2020 hit. Three AWS certifications later, she’s more than proved that nothing can slow her down. Now, she shares her insights on how you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Your personal story is inspiring. Can you share some of that with us?
I am the oldest in a family of four daughters. When I was 19 years old, my family moved to the U.S. from Vietnam. We decided to settle in Houston because of its strong Vietnamese community and we have relatives who have been living here for decades. When I first set foot on U.S. soil, the only English words I knew were “Hello” and “Goodbye”, but I was determined to succeed and enrolled in classes at San Jacinto College.
My first class left me shocked and scared–I could not understand a word that the teacher said. I could’ve struggled my way through it, but I knew that I’d miss a lot of the meaning while trying to get past the communication barrier. After weighing my options, I decided that going back to high school to build a foundation in English was the best longterm move. It took me a year and a half to graduate from high school, but it was absolutely worth it. Plus, I was able to work at a coffee shop to help practice English and also contribute to my family financially.
What brought you to computing?
When I was 17, I discovered how to make my computer complete little tasks on its own. One of my favorite missions early on involved creating a simple VBA code to open a to-do list at 7 AM, then open a homework list at 9 PM everyday. To the computer, the program just acted like a reminder; to me, a whole new realm of possibilities. Soon after, I found myself wanting to know more than just how to manipulate the computer. I wanted to understand the theory behind computers, the methodology of how they work and what they can do.
I started my degree in Computer Science at the University of Houston in 2013 and graduated with honors three years later. After graduation, I knew that I wanted to work at a company where I could constantly expand my knowledge of computer science and technology.
What led you to PREDICTif? What has your experience been since joining the team?
I joined PREDICTif, a company that values training and improving employees, in late November 2019. I have gained a lot of knowledge since then and have the opportunity to continue to learn every day. I feel very lucky to be a part of PREDICTif family. Everyone always encourages one another. We can all openly talk about our day-to-day life, get advice when you are in need, and support each other even when we’re not working in the same place. It doesn’t hurt that we have some very talented bakers on the team who bring us treats from time to time!
I’m constantly motivated to work harder to contribute to our big family. In fact, I’ve already achieved three AWS Associate Certifications: AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional, AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and AWS Certified Developer – Associate.
In the year you’ve been with us, you’ve already achieved three AWS Certifications. What has that journey been like for you, especially with the shift to working from home?
I started preparation for my first certification, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, the first week of work. As a single mother of a toddler, studying at home after work is not always feasible. I always need to organize my time wisely to balance between working and parenting my sweet boy. In order for me to use my time as effectively as possible while at work, I knew that I needed a set study schedule. I created a list of AWS components to learn each day and committed my time to complete them on schedule. After about 10 days of studying, I successfully passed the certification exam and went on to complete another two within six months.
Due to the pandemic, I shifted to working from home. While it gives me more time to take care of my son, it’s sometimes harder for me to concentrate on work. At just 2 years old, my son is very active and constantly wants my attention. Fortunately, my parents are nearby and are very supportive. They were able to babysit him during work hours, so I could enjoy uninterrupted time with him after a full day of work. It was a tough time for the first few months, but with the support of my family and my coworkers, time seemed to breeze by. A big benefit to working at home has been the countless hours of commuting saved, leaving me with more time to do extra practice and training and, of course, more time with my son.
Do you have a particular process for studying?
I do! First, I collect all the resources that I find useful and put them all in a file so that I don’t waste time looking for them later. I like to commit three to five hours a day, depending on my workload at the time, to watch courses on Udemy or Linux Academy and then another hour for some practice tests on Whizlabs to validate my knowledge of what I learned. If I did not do well on the practices, I would note it and spend more time looking for resources that could help me get a better understanding of it. I then finish the day by looking at some FAQs on Amazon’s webpage. It helps me review materials in a less demanding way so I can transition into enjoying time with my son more easily. Every Friday, I like to complete some labs to recall everything I have learned throughout the week and then take a practice exam or two.
Your drive for learning is incredible. What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
I have met some challenges on my journey that have made me feel overwhelmed. There were a few times when my son was in his “Wonder Weeks” where he’d keep me up all night leaving me exhausted the next day. I couldn’t pay attention to the videos and I started to fall behind on my schedule. Instead of becoming upset with my son, or myself, I decided to be a little lenient. On days that were particularly bad, I’d try my best to cover new material then spend the rest of the day reviewing things or rewatching lessons. When I’d feel more energetic, I’d spend a little more time watching extra lessons to catch back up to my target.
What is your favorite piece of motivation that you’ve gained along the way?
It would probably be my favorite quote by Zig Ziglar: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. Indeed, I’ve found that you don’t have to be smart or skillful to start on something new. All you need is a little bit of courage to start working towards your goal and a commitment to follow-through. With those two simple things, you can change the world.