Motivation & Exams
I find the hardest thing to obtaining any qualification is time. Unless you are lucky enough to be studying full-time, it is obviously very probable that you like me have a full-time job as well as lots of other responsibilities.
Often when asked in the past what I would like to achieve as a SQL Server professional I would say:
“I want to gain a SQL MCDBA qualifications.”.
Well as time went on the MCDBA exams were retired, and SQL 2005 was the new product to train on along with the new MCTS and MCITP qualifications and so I then said:
“I would like to gain an MCITP”.
So I had set myself a goal to achieve an MCDBA and time had passed and I had achieved nothing. So my new goal was an MCITP SQL 2005 Database Administrator, but yes you have guessed it I did not study and time again passed by. I did however make one push to achieve it in 2007, and with the help of my then boss we purchased:
“MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exams 70-431, 70-443, 70-444): Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Database Administrator Core Requirements”.
I made the mistake of not setting any deadlines for achieving these exams however and so in the middle of 2007 in June I had not taken one exam. I was disappointed with myself that I had not done more and so one evening at home I decided to book a day off work and set an exam date.
I paid for the exam and booked it for the following month, said nothing to my co-workers except that I had a day off work and waited for the date to come around (If I failed I would obviously keep this to myself :P).
In the evenings at home I studied with my book and with the help of books online, and on the 29th August 2007 I achieved an MCTS SQL2005 (Exam 70-431). (I reclaimed the money for the exam from work having passed. hehe.)
Hooray, so I had done the exam surely it would not be too long before I gain an MCITP (2 more exams at the time)
Aghh nooo, not again. Yes work pressure, time constraints, and the cat/dog ate my home work… I never sat another exam…
4 years later…yes FOUR!!!
In 2011 many things had changed, but so many had stayed the same. I had changed jobs a few times, moved house and started to work with newer versions of SQL Server. I had also over the last couple of years spent more times on the SQL Server Forums.
The exams however had fallen quite a long way off my radar. I do like to evaluate where I am going in my career, and it was around this time I was feeling particularly low as I felt that I had not really achieved anything in recent times. What I mean by this is there was nothing to put on my CV except the passing of the years.
As chance would have it I woke up on the 17th February 2011 to an email from Microsoft. I had been awarded an Microsoft Community Contributor award! How cool was that? Well I think for a while it was the only thing on my mind. Not least because I had no idea what this award was. It is as I found out a peer award in the SQL Server community and many really nice people have them, so I felt very happy having found this out. (Yes, also I apologize to all those I may have bored with this…I was proud/happy. insane?)
But what did all this mean? It meant to me that perhaps I had been a little complacent with what I could achieve and so I decided to create a mini action plan.
Well ok you got me, it was not as detailed as a plan in fact it was more of a list of things to do.
Number 1. Get more involved with the SQL Server Community… after all it is great
Number 2. Set exam goals
Number 3. Make Time …not in a science fiction type way…just find the time
Number 4. Set exam Deadlines
Number 5. Achieve! …or at the very least try!
How did it go?
First stop join twitter. Yup here is me @JonGurgul , which is rather cool thing about having a unique`ish name is that I can get in most cases the account I want. I do not post as often as some, but I do lurk.
I was really lucky with the SQL Server community because @RachelClements had already set up a group based at http://www.sqlserverclub.co.uk/ , and by a funny twist of fate the meetings were happening 5 minutes from my current work. I have been to a couple of these and met lots of SQL users and MVPs and sat though some very enjoyable talks. Plus I must mention that Rachel provides PIZZA!!! I would go just for pizza tbh.
I also created a free WordPress blog to test out how I would get on with the whole blogging thing, and enjoyed it enough to buy a real domain and setup this blog. I am not saying that this blog is great, in fact it is more of collection of things that fall out of my head. It is definitely not in the league of some bloggers, who manage to craft each of their posts. Brent Ozar continues to be one of my favourate bloggers for this very reason.
Yes, I did it. I set myself the goal of achieving 2 x MCITP and managed to pass all the exams in 2011, with literally 10 days spare 🙂
I am now a MCITP Database Administrator 2008 & MCITP Database Developer 2008. That was 4 exams. I may have to write a follow up about what I did to pass them, but for now I will just wish you all a happy vacation.