George Mason University

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His Mason education changed his career path. Now he works at Amazon

October 5, 2019   /   by Damian Cristodero

Rao Ahmad Rahil said the hands-on labs and troubleshooting in his Mason classes relate directly to his job at Amazon. Photo provided.

More than 500 George Mason University alumni work for Amazon at various locations around the country and the world, many for Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary that offers cloud computing services and has a major hub in Northern Virginia.

Rao Ahmad Rahil, MS telecommunications ’18, is a cloud support associate and one of several Mason alumni we have featured in the past weeks who work for the tech giant.

Those include Brandon Mohabir, a cloud support associate, BS information technology ’15; Taylor Cacciotti, a data center technician, information technology '19; Cameron Isaac, an executive design recruiter, BS conflict analysis and resolution ’11; Prinkle Lopes, a cloud support associate, MS information systems ’18; and Jason Paul Pate, a systems analyst, BS information technology ’20; and Rajitha Devabhaktuni, a cloud security engineer, MS computer engineering ’16.

Of all the things Rahil experienced during his time at Mason, one course—TCOM 690 Scalable Network Architecture—was the most consequential. “That one course probably changed my career path,” he said.

In it, Rahil learned about the advantages of networking in the cloud rather than through old-fashioned physical networks. He also learned about Amazon Web Services and gained hands-on experience working on AWS consoles.

“The class was very interactive, so we were learning more,” Rahil says. “I always had been more toward hardcore networking—routing and switching and physical networks. But going into the cloud, you are exposed to so many services like storage, virtual desktops, software platforms, servers, databases. So I was, like, ‘Okay, let’s dive into cloud computing.’ ”

Rahil came to the United States specifically to attend Mason after speaking with an education consultant in his native Pakistan and then doing some online research.

“The deciding point was the program offered by Mason,” he says. “There’s a lot of learning, and Mason is up-to-date with its course work.”

He took advantage of a project management course, which helped him understand how to manage, lead, and make presentations—a useful exercise, Rahil says, for someone whose first language is not English and who does not have experience with public speaking.

Rahil’s job in Amazon’s Herndon, Virginia, office is customer-facing, with an emphasis on understanding individual issues, troubleshooting, and developing solutions to networking problems.

For Rahil, though, it all comes back to that one telecommunications course.

“There were labs. We were troubleshooting. It was really hands-on,” Rahil says. “I will always be grateful to Mason for that course.”