Yesterday, after lots of studying which never felt enough, I took and passed the VMware VCP-Cloud exam in Dublin, Ireland. Thankfully, I passed and this morning I got an email from VMware Education to say that they are awarding me the certification.
It got me thinking as I drove to work about why I do exams… Why I put myself through the stress and strain (And needless to say my family) of studying for professional certifications. Was it because I love to learn, was it because it was expected of me by my employers, or some other reason?
While cursing other drivers who I though should have to recertify their driving licence; I came to the following conclusion….
Certifications give me the framework to learn.
That’s to say, I love learning new things, I love technology and the benefits they brings to us all, but I personally need focus. You can read all the marketing from the vendors about how certifications will improve your career, though I 100% agree, I think they have missed something… The journey of studying for a certification can bring a whole new dimension to your knowledge.
Certification studying brings together the benefits of learning aspects of a product/service/process that you may have never looked at, but also solidifying the knowledge you already had. The confidence I speak to my clients about on a subject post-certification is always greater, stronger, etc than subjects had had worked in the field for years on.
Downloading exam blueprints offers me the framework to not get side-tracked by irreverent aspects of the subject; it gives me focus on what is important. Many reading this, I’m sure having sat through the exam process in a test centre or increasingly commonly at home are thinking… “But many exams test me on things I have never used and will never use”. Well I agree and have had the same thoughts in practically ever exam I have studied for… But as I sit back, and review my certification stack as a whole I see that even those odd, strange bits of the blueprint have given me a rounder, fuller understanding of the subject as a whole.
The system isn’t full proof by any stretch of the imagination. I have written exam questions for a number of technology vendors, and sometimes you write questions that are only there to cover the blueprint, to make sure you have enough questions for the exam pool or you want to stretch the ability/knowledge of the test taker. The rule I had when writing exams was always “Is it in the blueprint?” or “Is it covered in the course?”; if you can pinpoint/reference your question to course/blueprint within a minute of looking, it was fair game.
Will I continue to wonder why those questions or aspects of the blueprint are there? Of course! …but I will understand that I’m better for it.