Today I decided to take a step back and think why I got certified in the first place(way back in 2009). People have very different motivations for getting certified, mine was not related to monetary gain or advancement at my workplace when I first (started using haha – they are a bit like an addiction) took a VMware exam. I worked for a very small company and I wanted a way to prove to myself that I knew what I was actually doing; also prove to my employer that I knew what I was doing!
Enter the VCP-4 exam, I felt this was the perfect way to show that I did know all of the features, such as how to configure ESX(i)/vCenter, which license level gave you which specific features and most importantly what all of those cool features did/could do. Working for a small company I did not have the luxury of getting exams paid for sadly, so when I decided to take my exam I needed to make sure I was ready, had put the time in to study and find every resource possible to learn all that I could.
My first attempt I was very nervous and unsure even though I had spent 2 months going over things I thought I would need to know. I failed, I not only failed I bombed it. I did not let it get my down for long and after that I decided to start fresh and go over this “blueprint” thing that I had downloaded but did not pay (enough)attention to. I began reviewing it and looking over various breakdowns of the blueprint on blogs like this one from Simon Long. I took another 3 months to study, really take time to go over the blueprint, and feel comfortable with all topics. During that 3 months I spent time reading over VMware documentation that was relevant to the blueprint and learning everything I could.
I lined up another exam date and was ready to give it a go after months of study time. I was still nervous but felt much better about taking it this time. I had gained more confidence after putting in the study time and felt like I could really do this(now that did not mean that I didn’t get a little flustered whilst taking the exam). I passed this time with flying colors. I felt on top of the world after that.
Moving on from the first pass:
I really started reading more and more after passing that first exam. I setup a home lab and found many answers to my questions on the VMware community page, and on Twitter. The community that was around at that time was already really amazing as people were so helpful and eager to answer questions.
Did this actually help you or your career and why keep taking them?
So, why take these exams and put all of this time in? Well, again I started this to justify my knowledge to myself really. I kept taking these over the years as the versions changed and new exams came out; I wanted to push myself to learn more/new technologies and show it by passing these exams. By passing these exams I got an opportunity to interview for an amazing position. Part of why I got the position is I took the time to pursue these certs on my own and kept learning. It made a huge difference in my career passing these certs and moving into a role where I have had and still have tons of room to grow.
Looking back at this first exam I really learned what VMware was expecting and that you can’t ignore the blueprint!! The issues I have/had thinking about this one is that you had to memorize so many config min/max settings that many people found to be useless. Moving on from version 4 I feel that VMware has correct this issue and is testing for much more “real life” applicable knowledge from people attempting these tests. I also felt that it was a huge benefit to setup a home lab going forward with my career and future exams. Having taken many more exams since the VCP4 I really have a good process for prepping for the exam which includes reviewing the full blueprint. A fantastic example of covering the blueprint is what Mike Preston did on his blog when he covered his 8 weeks of VCAP which I used for my first VCAP!
Never stop learning!