December 28, 2020 | Episode 136

How to Become a Certified Apache Kafka Expert ft. Niamh O’Byrne and Barry Ballard

  • Transcript
  • Notes

Tim Berglund:

You know, it's one thing to know how to Kafka but another to prove it to the world that you know. One approach, and I'm pretty sure this is literally thousands of years old, is certification. I wanted to talk to Niamh O'Byrne and Barry Ballard about Confluent's certification program because you know what? It really is a great program. Listen to Niamh tell us what she's built on today's episode of Streaming Audio, a podcast about Kafka, Confluent, and the cloud.

Tim Berglund:

Hello and welcome to another episode of Streaming Audio. I am as per the usual your host Tim Berglund and I'm joined in the virtual studio today by two, count them, two of my coworkers, Niamh O'Byrne, she is the certification manager here at Confluent and Barry Ballard, he's a senior technical instructor. And Niamh and Barry are going to talk to us about certification. Niamh, Barry, welcome to the show.

Barry Ballard:

Thank you.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Hi, it's great to be here. Thanks for having us Tim. We're excited to be invited to the podcast.

Tim Berglund:

And I am excited to have you two on. This is a pretty cool topic, as you guys know. I have a heart for education, training and then certification is a key part of that so I just want to talk through it. So kick us off. Barry, just looking to the future, I know we normally look to the future at the end of a conversation but we do what we want on this podcast. And looking to the future, in the next five years what are some skills that you see as essential to getting hired as a developer using Kafka?

Barry Ballard:

Well, I think there are three primary skills that are going to be necessary. There's going to be emotional intelligence, there's going to be building your personal brand and there's going to be some digital security knowledge you're going to need. So the emotional intelligence, we're really talking about the soft skills. Being able to communicate, especially in the digital world, that ability to be able to communicate effectively is going to be very important going forward.

Barry Ballard:

Now building the personal brand, you really want to highlight your career and educational successes. Again, you're trying to stand out and especially in a digital world you need to have that ability. I'll give you an example. Over the past six months Confluent has hired over 100 different people over video conferencing facilities. They had to have some way to stand out digitally to be able to get to the interview stage to be able to get the job. It is going to be a vital skill you're going to have to have going forward and again, more and more people are staying home, more and more people are working remotely. You're going to have your laptops, your smartphones, your tablets, all forms of technology.

Barry Ballard:

Well, cyber criminals are getting much more savvy. They're getting much more able to break in and to do things that you don't want having done on this technology, so to have some type of digital security knowledge and expertise is really going to be a game changer for the candidate.

Tim Berglund:

Cool. I felt like I was doing really well on that list. When you said emotional intelligence I'm like, "Yes, I crush it." Building a brand, "Awesome, I'm doing really well here." Security, "Oh, you mean technical skills too. Aw, dang it. Okay." Well, I guess this is why you guys can help me. So apart from those critical soft skills and the security things that you think are strategic, what else is there? Maybe more technical skills. What else do you think people need?

Barry Ballard:

Well, aside from technical skills certainly you're going to have to have a couple additional capabilities, and that's going to be self direction and self reliance. You're not going to have a manager walking around behind you every few minutes, you're going to have to make sure you have the self motivation to get the job done. And self reliance, again you're not going to have the situation where you need some training, you need some software, you go to the HR, to your manager, to the IT.

Barry Ballard:

Going forward I see the developer's really going to be much more self reliant, they're going to seek out, they're going to find the training they need to take. They're going to do the investigation, they're going to identify the software, present it and say, "This is the software we need to use to accomplish our tasks." They're going to be a lot more self reliant. They're going to be driving this as opposed to being receiving it from, "Here's the software you're going to use." It's going to be a different paradigm from what a lot of people are used to know.

Tim Berglund:

I like it. I like it. It sounds like a lot of... I don't know, I just want to call it adult skills that developers need to have.

Barry Ballard:

Absolutely.

Tim Berglund:

Either one of you, why the change there? It's a little tired at this point to blame the internet, the pandemic has been with us for a while, it seems maybe nobody expects that to go on for a generation so why do you think those core adult functional human being skills are going to me more important now for developers than they used to be?

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know, I can take this one, Barry. I have some opinions about that, Tim. I think the world in and of itself is getting faster and faster and people are expecting things much more quickly than they used to, so as a result those who get ahead and those who do very well whether it's a small company or a large company, we can really see that they have those skills, the self direction, the speed. It's almost like an insatiable desire to be successful quickly. So those adult skills, they stand out, and just looking back even within the last year, they stand out even more so in a pandemic because we are forced to see people through a different prism. We're not sitting around with each other and looking for that special cue or looking into somebody's eyes. We're looking through a totally different scene, Zoom, audio, so it's those are really honed in on that skillset who tend to accelerate through corporate America.

Tim Berglund:

That makes a lot of sense. The way I look at it is that your ability to interact, to read people and to modulate your own cognitive and emotional output to match the people you're talking to, that's stuff that most people do without thinking all day long. And it's hard for some of us and in extreme situations it's always hard, but over Zoom your view into the other person is so limited and what you can share is also attenuated, so majoring on those skills, if you're very good at those things, maybe you can survive in this challenge, Zoom only world. We should have a certification exam for this.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Adding to that as well, just revisiting a point that Barry made which I think it extremely important these days. Barry, you said that one of the skills that you see as being very important is the ability to develop your personal brand. This goes very much hand in hand with certification. Most people are very quiet about their successes but in the last few years with the advent of major tools, social media where people are able to promote what's happening in their lives, the ability to promote your personal success brand, what you've done that sets you apart from everybody else will truly be a differentiator.

Niamh O'Byrne:

People who know when they've had a success, how to demonstrate or to showcase that success on LinkedIn or any other platform that they choose to utilize, it really is vital that they understand how to do that in order to be successful because exactly as Barry pointed out, there are thousands and thousands of people looking to get hired now. What sets you apart from somebody else?

Barry Ballard:

Well, absolutely. And in a digital world too, you just don't have the luxury of having those non-verbal cues, of having that visualization to see does this person exude confidence? Does this person have the level of sureness that is going to make sure that I'm confident that they can do the job?

Tim Berglund:

Excellent point, excellent point. Yeah, I think you said there's people that are reticent to share their successes. I wonder what that's like. I just can't imagine that. Sorry, I think that was a self deprecating joke, trust me. Niamh, could you give us an overview of certification at Confluent? I want to drill into some of the exams and just explore them because clearly having a credible, robust certification that says, "Hey, here are skills that I have, here's knowledge that I have," that fits in to this thing that you're talking about, this ability to socialize your successes, because I can share that on LinkedIn and we have now a shared understanding of what that thing means. But give us an overview of it before we drill into it, what is certification at Confluent?

Niamh O'Byrne:

Sure. Certification at Confluent, which is now believe or not Tim, next month it will be two years old.

Tim Berglund:

Happy birthday.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Thank you. We're not feeling two yet, we still feel like it's day one here.

Tim Berglund:

You don't look a day over 22 months.

Niamh O'Byrne:

I love it, I love it. Here were are now at two years old and we have two certification exams and one accreditation. Now our two certification exams, the first one is developer and the second one is for administrators. They are our flagship exams. In the next year you'll be surprised to hear that we plan to launch a brand new suite of exams and we plan to talk about that a little bit later on in this podcast Tim, but we also have, which I just touched upon, an accreditation. And people say, "Well wait, what's an accreditation? Why wouldn't I go straight and get the certifications?" Well, let me tell you. You wouldn't start there if you're at your very first early out of the gate experience with event streaming.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Our certifications, the developer and the administrator one, are technical exams but what if you're just starting out? What if you're a person who's just learning about event streaming but you do want to show people that this is your career, that this is where you plan to go, and you want to let people know that you are serious about pursuing this as an interest. Well, you'd start with accreditation. We have a fabulous start which is available online and you can take the accreditation from the comfort of your own home. You are not proctored and immediately once you're successful you get a digital badge that you can share with all of your friends, your family, your colleagues on LinkedIn. So our accreditation is a wonderful place to start.

Niamh O'Byrne:

You can take it, as I said, from the comfort of your office or your home and you immediately get a digital badge upon passing, and that's your start. That's where you can show people, "This is where I want to start growing my event streaming career." Once you've played around with our technology, and we have loads of training online, we have loads of labs you can take with our training, once you've really started to get your hands dirty you can then move forward and take one of the technical certifications. But that's when the game changes, Tim.

Niamh O'Byrne:

You're not taking the certifications as an open book, you're actually proctored. Now the beauty of the certification exams at Confluent, you still don't have to leave the comfort of your home. You can take it from your living room or your office but you are remotely proctored, so somebody does dial in and they say, "Hello Tim, nice to see you today. Pan around your room with your camera, please." And once they're satisfied that they do indeed have Time Berglund and he is in his home office they will release the exam to you and proctor you for 90 minutes. If you're successful, yet again you immediately get a digital badge that you can share on any social media platform of your choice.

Barry Ballard:

And let's not forget we do have our certification boot camp available to everybody so you can get an idea of how to take the test.

Tim Berglund:

Okay. I like it. So the accreditation is the lower commitment and it's not proctored, it's open book, it's a good start but... I guess what I'm trying to say is a less robust assertion of your knowledge, and then when you get to the proctored certification that really is very serious. You are the one who answered these questions, you didn't Google them, you didn't have someone feeding you the answers. We're very confident that this is a robust assessment of your knowledge.

Tim Berglund:

But I like that there's a starting point because if I'm new at this... I think I could do okay on the developer certification. Maybe I have an overly inflated opinion of myself, I could probably do fine but what if I'm new to the Kafka world? Five years ago I knew there were producers and consumers and something about partitions, right? You might want that smaller step to take first that doesn't feel as intimidating if you're a person who finds tests intimidating. I like that you've got them both.

Niamh O'Byrne:

And that's exactly right. And one of the things right now that we want people to know who are listening today is right now there exams are only available in English. But as you know Tim, we're a global company with global programs, our customers are worldwide. If you are a person with English as your second language, our certification department, we allow extra time for those individuals who have English as a second language. All the person needs to do is reach out to certification and we will extend that individual time so they have time to digest the questions and think very carefully about the answers they're giving.

Tim Berglund:

I love it. My experience is, with some exceptions, English is the lingua franca of software development globally. That doesn't mean I can just swing into a meetup speaking native idiomatic English and being witty and making in jokes and things like that and everybody's with me. A lot of development happens in English but if it is your second language, if you're a person who has learned a second language as an adult you know you just go slower and so that is wonderful that you do that because we want these things to be available to a global audience.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Too true, Tim, and also when people are getting certified they do tend to feel a little more stressed because they do feel the pressure is on.

Tim Berglund:

Just a bit.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Just a tad but we at Confluent, from the day we started the Confluent Certification program, we've really wanted people to be able to take exams remotely. We wanted to break that traditional certification model of where a person got in a car and drove to a testing center. So right from day one, Tim, we offered exams remotely and I can tell you it was a great benefit during the pandemic because people couldn't travel but they could take certification exams.

Tim Berglund:

Right. No, that's huge. The go to a testing center is... And Niamh, I don't think badly about the 1990s. I don't. It was a good time for me. Early in the decade I was in college and we had our kids in the 90s, and I don't know the music was really all that good but there were some good things happening like... Well, The Phantom Menace, that's a terrible example. There were good films in the nineties. There were. I'm sure I could think of some but that model of certification from that decade is, I think, one that would be good not to preserve and I'm glad that you guys are not preserving it.

Tim Berglund:

Here's a specific question about the developer exam. About 40% of it falls under the heading of application design. Why is that a thing that you think is going to change going forward

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know, I really can see that I feel that domain, that domain of 40% of application design is going to change and I see it changing within the next three years. If you think of application design traditionally, you would do it in a meeting room along with other engineers and you would reach consensus of the design. You would be able to discuss the design, you would be able to discuss how you're going to approach the application, and you could do it over a series of days.

Niamh O'Byrne:

The whole world of work has changed, and of course now we expect people to be able to communicate across lots and lots of different digital platforms. People aren't just walking into meeting rooms and office blocks all over the world and getting together and discussing in person what application they're going to design. So I think what we are going to have to start thinking about from Confluent Certification is how do people achieve consensus on an application utilizing digital technology, and we are going to have to find a way to test for that skill in our certification exams. So I believe what's going to happen is we're going to have to cross the bridge of actually being able to test almost project management tools.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Now we've started the conversation now and it's exciting for us here in the certification department to be trying to consider how are we going to test that skill. How are we going to test an engineer's ability to achieve consensus utilizing digital tools and lots of different tools? We haven't entirely answered that question. We are thinking of something maybe more like a project creation examination process but there will be more on this. I expect we will have a lot more to share in the second half of next year so hopefully you'll have us back Tim and we'll be able to tell you where we are in that process.

Tim Berglund:

I will absolutely have you back, that's a given. Again, my confidence in being able to pass the future version of the certification is changing here. If there are project management skills required, everybody who has ever reported to me says, "Okay, well Tim we're sorry, maybe this isn't the certification for you," but I get that. That's important, just the ability to coordinate between those diverse elements. And really, application architectures are moving in such a way that application functionality's becoming more of an emergent thing that emerges from the collaboration of a bunch of independent services. And a bunch of independent services, one of the whole reasons for us favoring architectures like that is so that they can be built by diverse groups of people who aren't all together all at the same time and can think separately, can respond separately to separate business conditions and so forth, so I like that. I like that a lot.

Tim Berglund:

I'm also reminded and let's not bunny trail on this because there's other stuff to talk about, but I feel like I have to say it, there are some emerging event driven design disciplines I'm thinking of event modeling. I had my friend Bobby Calderwood on the podcast a few... I'm going to say a few weeks ago. It was probably four months ago and I just have no sense of time. But you know, it was recent. Bobby was here, we were talking about event modeling and this tool called oNote and things like that, so there are some potential higher level architectural things that seem like they could end up also being answers to the questions you were just raising.

Tim Berglund:

How about the cloud? Is there cloud certification? Will there be a cloud certification? Some of my predictions for 2021, we're recording this in mid-November 2020, but predictions for 2021, I think the cloud is going to be big. What do you think? Is there going to be a cert?

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know Tim, top-secret, don't tell anybody, we'll keep this between you and me, the Confluent Certification team is actually working on a cloud certification exam.

Tim Berglund:

Nice.

Niamh O'Byrne:

And it's coming out in H1 of next year but we'll just keep this one between you and me, okay?

Tim Berglund:

Okay. All right, good. Don't tell Barry.

Barry Ballard:

Yeah. I didn't hear it.

Tim Berglund:

Okay good, good. That's good. Nice. Is it formed enough for you to be able to talk about what sorts of things it will cover?

Niamh O'Byrne:

Well you know, it's interesting that you ask about that because we've been having lots and lots of meetings to do with this new cloud certification and there are actually going to be a lot of similarities between project metamorphosis. If you look back at project metamorphosis and what happened each month and when we look at the skills from project metamorphosis, elastic, scaling, cost effective, infinite, there will be questions on all of those skills in the cloud certifications. So there is definitely a train of similarity between those two things.

Tim Berglund:

Nice. Okay, I like that. As there should be. I mean that's a pretty good summary of what's important about Confluent Cloud as it stands at the end of 2020. I mean cloud is, in some sense, like Barry trying to build and deliver training content and Niamh trying to build a certification around cloud, and like what my team dose and the kinds of demos and little short form instructional things that we do, cloud's kind of a nightmare because it moves so fast so you almost need an extra headcount for the cloud certification or something, just a person to sit there and do that more than, "Okay, here's how to develop stuff for Kafka." Oh, that changes every two years but cloud's a tough one in the way, but I'm really glad that you're covering it.

Tim Berglund:

Broadly zooming out, as our concept of event streaming becomes better established, I think it's in this state now where number one, those two words, that label, event streaming is not universally understood. In the developer community we don't have complete consensus for what that means. Well, even established terms like DevOps and microservices, you get people to fight by asking a group of greater than one developer what the words mean and they get into a fight, so I don't know why I would expect us to have consensus over event streaming.

Tim Berglund:

Point being it's a new thing and we're getting it figured out but there is a sense that it is an ascendant thing, and as I hinted before this is the next generation's paradigm of how systems are built, and as that happens we're learning how, we're building standards, consensus is emerging on the right ways to do and document and debate things. But as that moves forward, how do certifications evolve? Like you said, okay, you're building a cloud one, of course, but there's a developer and an admin exam. Do those bifurcate more? Do they merge? Does a third architecture exam come to be? How do those change as event streaming solidifies?

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know, you're asking some great questions because I would like to say that all of drive comes entirely from me and that's entirely not true.

Tim Berglund:

You are a visionary.

Barry Ballard:

[crosstalk 00:25:51]. Yes.

Tim Berglund:

Even visionaries like us, Niamh, sometimes get little bit of input from the outside, right?

Niamh O'Byrne:

How we actually get our input is very exciting. We get it both internally, obviously from our own product team, we're very closely aligned with the engineering and product team and of course with you, Tim, within Confluent. However what we really do is listen to the customer. When anybody gets certified, so they achieve a Confluent Certification, they are invited to a private LinkedIn group and the LinkedIn group is fairly active so we talk to our customers all the time. We say to them, "What would be valuable to you? What certification exam would you find challenging? What would reward you?" So we keep our ear to the ground.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Now in the past when we were meeting in person at the Kafka summits in person, we did a huge amount of customer research. We sat with our people in the certification testing room at Kafka Summit and we interviewed people when they came out from their testing exam and we said, "What was valuable to you? What did you learn by taking that exam? What would you like to see next? What rewards would you like to be given by Confluent after getting certified?" And we made lists and lists and we kept them and we've continued to chip away.

Niamh O'Byrne:

So primarily we take our direction for what to develop next from those who already have our certifications and that direction, as I said, comes from in person, it comes from research, it comes from the LinkedIn groups but it also comes from... At the end of every exam you are asked a series of questions. We always ask our end users, "Was it valuable to you? Was it a fun experience? What would you like to see next? So we keep a really heavy duty log and we go through that information all the time, and then we decide what floats to the top, what does the majority of the people want? So it really is a democratic certification department.

Tim Berglund:

Very much, very much.

Barry Ballard:

I also have to put in my little two cents for we fellow instructors. We certainly poll our audience, we certainly poll our students, "What do you think is important? What do you want to be known for? What is going to be important in your job? To have that accreditation, to have that certification." Certainly giving us any of that feedback is very important to instructors for developing our material but also feeding back to Niamh for her certification program as well.

Tim Berglund:

Absolutely. So where do they go? Come back around to that, the dev and admin. What do you think the future state is?

Niamh O'Byrne:

Well, I certainly... I can tell you that I don't... There were a lot of people in... Five years we ago we used to see the world of developers and administrators becoming DevOps and you saw a variety of different certification exams coming out. I don't see that happening for us. I think we will remain separate. We will always have a developer stream, we will always have an administrator stream. However what we do see coming, and again it is coming next year, we will be launching an architect certification stream.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Now whether we term it event streaming architect or solutions architect, we haven't fixed on title yet but that also, next year along with the cloud certification that we talked about earlier, that certification is coming because there is an enormous appetite for that certification exam amongst our current certified audience.

Tim Berglund:

And I can say that I personally greet that news with a certain [frison 00:29:41] of excitement. That is excellent news because the technical skills required to develop against Kafka to maintain on pram... Just to self manage, it doesn't need to be on pram. It can be on cloud and subsist in the same game if you're managing it. Those are two very important sets of technical skills. Also it is an important set of skills to think about how is it that one builds applications on Kafka, and it's more of a set of opinions at that point, right? Now we're expressing our opinion of what the should is and here's how we want you to.

Tim Berglund:

We've got a lot of people who've done a lot of good thinking and I think some of the best thought leading in the world inside our doors here, so I'm confident in our opinions but I am so glad to hear that because I think honestly that's what I see people struggle with the most. Pretty much anybody can learn the producer and the consumer APIs, they can understand partitioning, it's fine, they can understand how to tune various threat pools and manage ISR lists and thresholds and things. That's all stuff you can learn if you're a person who builds things out of computers.

Tim Berglund:

Everybody... Not everybody but almost everybody is kind of on their first event driven application right now. Senior people have built five, 10, 15, 20 systems, monolithic systems built on central databases and we can all think in those terms and solve problems, and what's hard about those applications is understanding the domain and dealing with business logic. It's not knowing how to design a dang database schema, we know that, but transitioning that to the event driven world is suddenly very difficult and relies on a whole new set of architectural tools. You didn't have a class for it in college, you haven't been spending your career doing, you can't just go ask somebody down the hall because they're new at it too and so having that as a certification and then the applied material to back it up to express our set of opinions about a good way to do this is just really, really good news to me.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Terrific. We are excited next year because there is so much happening at the Confluent Certification department. It's even difficult to take a breath, even during the pandemic.

Tim Berglund:

Exactly, yes. Sometimes, depending on whether you're wearing a mask or not, it might be marginally more difficult to take a deep breath than it used to be. You mentioned project metamorphosis and I want to ask a question about it, but just in case you, dear listener, don't know what project metamorphosis is I will explain. It is on the one hand a Confluent marketing campaign by which we talk about Confluent Cloud and our view of event streaming and the merging of those two things, and when I say marketing campaign I don't mean that in a cynical way.

Tim Berglund:

I mean it's a bunch of content that people have created and are pushing out into the world in various ways to try to get these ideas across because we think they're important ideas. And I'm one of those people, I've helped make one or two videos for this project along the way. But the idea is when a more or less completed event stream platform, for some value of completed, is combined with the properties of a cloud native hosted service, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and so there are things, like okay, security's built in and there are all of these other platform features that arrive, it's not just Kafka topics of the sky.

Tim Berglund:

And oh by the way those Kafka topics are elastically scalable in an effortless way and there's infinite tiered storage backing your topics if you want to push old data into the cloud blob store. Things like this. So they're specific features and you take the set of these eight things, and some of them have to do with cloud nativeness and some of them have to do with a completed string of platform, put them together and it's like chocolate and peanut butter or peaches and cream or Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter. It's just better than the two things would be separately.

Tim Berglund:

So with project metamorphosis in mind, now that if you didn't know you have some idea what that is, everybody, how do these intersect with your world? Are the features there that I just rattled off, are those vital skills for companies to develop? Should they be tested in certifications and exams? The technology involved with those features, how does this impact your life?

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know, that is a great question and it really impacts every certification exam and accreditation that we work on. If you look at project metamorphosis and you just isolate even one of the skills, take secure, every single solitary certification exam that we create at Confluent will have questions on security. There will be a percentage of every exam that definitely adheres to security. Why? Because we believe security is extremely important.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Take another one of the project metamorphosis skills, take scaling. I can tell you right off the top of my head there are four questions on scaling in the developer exam. There are, off the top of my head, two questions in scaling in the administrator exam. So you can be pretty sure that all of the skills that project metamorphosis covers are covered in all of our certification exams and that's how important I believe we think those skills are. And they do cross-pollinate in the exams and will cross-pollinate on every exam that we produce next year, 2021.

Tim Berglund:

Barry, question for you. As an instructor what you do and what I do have some things in common in that we try to get people to learn things, and there is a certain retail aspect to our work where we are as often as possible interacting individually with the people who built stuff out of the technology that we support and that we're excited on. So you actually get to have these conversations in the execution of your daily duties.

Tim Berglund:

As you talk to people, what do you think the importance of certification is? You can answer that two ways, you can just tell me what you think and tell me what comes up as you discuss certification with people in your classes. And since we're talking about this in what we hope might be the midpoint of a pandemic, hopefully we're not in the first 10% of it, we don't know, but during this pandemic does that change the game?

Barry Ballard:

Well, yes and no. I mean very, very good question. I think it's all very similar. It's all about making you stand out from the crowd. You have to be able to get your credentials in front of the right people. In order to do that, again, in the middle of the pandemic, hopefully not at the first 10% as you as but in the middle of the pandemic, lots of people are laid off. Lots of companies have closed, there's a lot of people out of work. Those companies that are hiring are going to have a multitude of resumes coming in. What can we do to make sure that our resume floats to the top or to make sure that you're getting past any kind of an automated tool to weed out the unqualified candidates? What additional things can we put in there?

Barry Ballard:

And certainly having certification is going to be all the more important even after pandemic, even in a situation where it's not an employee being hired into a company where it's just two employees vying for the same job. It's all about really standing out from the other candidate. What gives me additional credits to say that I've got this ability, I have proven, I have taken the tests, I have proven that I have this ability? I'm a sure property. I'm not something that you have a question about can he do this? I've proven that I can do it.

Barry Ballard:

So one thing that I would put that would answer all three of those aspects of your question is you've got to figure out a way to stand out. You've got to become the more interesting candidate, the more desired candidate because you've already proven you have those skills.

Tim Berglund:

I like it. Now the certification exams sound, I'll say, challenging. I think they're supposed to be if we want them to assert that you've got these meaningful skills and we've got accreditation which is the easier, on ramped as process. But in general, Niamh, from your perspective as the architect of this program and of the tests themselves, what if you're at the start of your career? What if you're new to this and you listen to this podcast because you want to learn about this stuff and it's all brand new? This might seem inaccessible. How should a newcomer to our world want to think about us? We always want to make them feel welcome and encouraged and like they belong. What's the angle there?

Niamh O'Byrne:

You know Tim, here I'm going to put the spotlight back on you. If you're new to event streaming you want to start listening to the Confluent podcast. Start from the start. I'd also encourage anybody who's new and is wondering how do I start? Where is step one? Well, step one is on confluent.io/training. There are resources that are free. We offer a free boot camp, it's only 45 minutes of your time and it prepares you how to start. I would tell everybody who's taking that first step, maybe it's a total career change, I would say start out with some of the free stuff.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Go and have a look at the Confluent YouTube channel. Go have a look at the Confluent training site. Go listen to any one of Tim Berglund's very early podcasts. Have a look at our fundamentals training that we offer online. Those are fabulous starting points. They're not daunting where you're going to be overwhelmed by lots of words that you think, "Look, this is far too advanced, I don't even know where to start." No, we start at the very one on one level so I would say start with anything I just suggested and I would also encourage anybody, go to the Confluent Certification website, have a look at all the resources we give.

Niamh O'Byrne:

We give sample questions, we give study guides, we give links that bring you to other sites where you can test your skill and see if you're actually ready to take one of the certification exams. So there are so many resources out there, Tim, I think it would be easy to get started. And of course I'm always here myself, anybody who wants to write to me or send an email and say, "Look, I'm at the start. I don't know what to do." We will take emails. People write to us all the time at certification and ask us, "How do I start out? I'm starting a different career." We are interested, we're involved, we want to help people learn this technology and get ahead in it.

Tim Berglund:

And Niamh's contact information will be in the show notes if you want to get in touch with her and she'll be a great, great person to help you begin that journey. My guests today have been Barry Ballard and Niamh O'Byrne. Barry and Niamh, thanks for being a part of Streaming Audio.

Barry Ballard:

Thank you very much, Tim. It's been a great discussion.

Niamh O'Byrne:

Tim, it was great to be on the podcast today. I hope as I said earlier you'll have us back next year. Thanks again.

Tim Berglund:

Hey, you know what you get for listening to the end? Some free Confluent Cloud. Use the promo code 60PDCAST, that 6-0-P-D-C-A-S-T, to get an additional $60 of free Confluent Cloud usage. Be sure to activate it by December 31st, 2021 and use it within 90 days after activation. And any unused promo value on the expiration date will be forfeit, and there are a limited number of codes available so don't miss out.

Tim Berglund:

Anyway, as always I hope this podcast was helpful to you. If you want to discuss it or ask a question you can always reach out to me at @tlberglund on Twitter, that's T-L-B-E-R-G-L-U-N-D. Or you can leave a comment on a YouTube video or reach out in our community Slack. There's a Slack signup link in the show notes if you'd like to join. And while you're at it please subscribe to our YouTube channel and to this podcast wherever fine podcasts are sold, and if you subscribe through Apple Podcasts be sure to leave us a review there. That helps other people discover us which we think is a good thing. So thanks for your support and we'll see you next time.

It’s one thing to know how to use Apache Kafka® and another to prove it to the world that you know. Niamh O’Byrne (Certification Manager, Confluent) and Barry Ballard (Senior Technical Trainer, Confluent) discuss Confluent’s Certification program, including sample test questions, bootcamp, exam details, Kafka training, and getting the necessary practical hands-on experience.

It’s no secret that the entire world of work has changed, and now we expect to communicate across a vast number of digital platforms. In this new age, Barry predicts three primary skills that will become more important than ever to employers as they seek to hire a candidate:

  1. Emotional intelligence
  2. Building your personal brand 
  3. Digital security knowledge

With emotional intelligence, we're really talking about effective communication and soft skills. This means understanding how to achieve consensus on utilizing digital technology, specifically Apache Kafka, which we test for in the Certification exam. 

This will help you stand out all around—on paper, in interviews, and in knowledge too. Especially as more and more businesses rely on Kafka, and as cybercriminals take their savviness to a new level, strong security expertise will truly set you apart.

Continue Listening

Episode 137January 6, 2021 | 44 min

Event Streaming Trends and Predictions for 2021 ft. Gwen Shapira, Ben Stopford, and Michael Noll

Coming out of a whirlwind year for the event streaming world, Tim Berglund sits down with Gwen Shapira, Ben Stopford, and Michael Noll to take a guess at what 2021 will bring.

Episode 138January 11, 2021 | 43 min

Change Data Capture and Kafka Connect on Microsoft Azure ft. Abhishek Gupta

What’s it like being a Microsoft Azure Cloud advocate working with Apache Kafka® and change data capture (CDC) solutions? Abhishek Gupta would know!

Episode 139January 20, 2021 | 34 min

Scaling Developer Productivity with Apache Kafka ft. Mohinish Shaikh

Confluent Platform and Confluent Cloud run efficiently largely because of the dedication of the Developer Productivity team. Mohinish Shaikh (Developer, Confluent) talks about how his team builds the product pipelines for the entire event streaming platform and ensures seamless delivery of several engineering processes across engineering and the rest of the org.

Got questions?

If there's something you want to know about Apache Kafka, Confluent or event streaming, please send us an email with your question and we'll hope to answer it on the next episode of Ask Confluent.

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