In August of 2021, I got a call from my mom that changed my life. She told me that the Taliban was at the gates of Kabul. As I made my way home, people and cars flooded the streets. Everyone was afraid of what was to come—my family included. My parents and siblings worked for the Afghan government and international nonprofits, which meant we were in danger of retaliation. We knew that something would happen to us if we stayed, so we left everything behind.
With help from the U.S. Army, we were able to get onto a plane and evacuate Afghanistan. Our journey took us to military bases in Kuwait and Germany. After several months of living in camps, we made it to our new home in Arlington, Virginia. Everything was new for us, and aside from each other, we had nothing.
With my dad still in Afghanistan, it was up to me to find a way to support my family. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but finding a job was still difficult. I was working at a restaurant when the immigration agency I was working with sent a list of jobs I might want to apply for. One of them was a data center operations technician with Amazon Web Services (AWS). I didn't have any information technology (IT) experience, but I could fix small problems on my computer and car, so I applied. If I hadn’t, my life would be completely different today.
I’ve been a data center technician with AWS for almost a year, and I love it. The job was definitely a learning curve at first, but with training and practice, I quickly became a top resolver at my site. In the data center, every day brings a new challenge. Whether it’s troubleshooting servers, replacing drives, or cleaning optics, I’m always looking to learn more. In the fall, I’m starting classes at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) to accelerate my career through the AWS Grow Our Own Talent program. Eventually, I’d like to manage an entire data center cluster.
My job as a data technician has given me the financial stability to support my family, but it has also restored my confidence and opened up a new path for my future. My advice to other new U.S. arrivals is to apply for positions like I did. If I can do this without experience, then anyone can. The only things you need are an appetite for problem-solving and a drive to succeed. Believe in yourself, and it will all work out.
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