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Are you setting yourself up to fail?

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by UCHEEKYMONKEY, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. UCHEEKYMONKEY
    Honorary Member

    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Are you setting yourself up to fail?
    Bored with your current job and the way life is going. Until one day you decide to go into IT. Why because you heard it was a sure thing with big salary and lots of exciting jobs to do! Just like it's portrayed in the TV adverts.

    I’ve seen it too many times on this forum, members asking which or cert is the quickest route into a high paid job in IT!

    But the majority fails on the first hurdle because they set themselves up to fail by focusing on the end result rather than setting themselves realistic goals.!

    I have started this thread in the hope that some of the members here who have got the certs (and the T-shirt to prove it) can share their experiences and advice on how they got their certs.

    Q) What goals do you set yourself when studying a Certification?


    Q) How long do you leave it before booking the exam?

    Q) How do you keep your motivation?

    Q) Do you choose the job in IT first then go for the cert that is required for it?

    Q) What advice would you give someone who is focusing on the end result and will do anything to get there even use a brain dump!


    8)
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  2. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You guys have heard me talk about these things enough, haven't you? Most of you could probably write my answers verbatim! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  3. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Does that mean you haven't got the time to answer the questions or just can't be bothered?:blink
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  4. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    No, I will certainly answer, my friend. :) Need to finish up some work before giving this post the careful attention it deserves. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  5. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Fair play mate, sorry I jumped to the wrong conclusion8)
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  6. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Cheeky,

    I won't give you a line-by-line answer, but I will answer.

    First, I'm motivated because I love to learn. I look at the certification process as a chance to learn, gain knowledge, and upgrade my skills. I really don't care about that piece of paper. I never have. It's a minute part of being certified in my book. The really valuable things anyone takes away from the process are knowledge and skills, along with, if you actually want to learn something, some hands-on skills through setting up all the technology you read about in the books.

    Anyone wanting to get a certification by braindumping might just as well go out and burn the burn the money they are going to spend on getting certified for all the good their paper cert is going to do for them. They will not have skill one, and will not be able to do the work whatever certification they think is going to get them that hot job says that they should be able to do. So, it's bye-bye job as soon as it is gotten, because the employer will realize immediately that they don't know anything.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
    WIP: LPIC 1
  7. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Thanks Freddy!:super
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  8. ManicMonkey

    ManicMonkey Kilobyte Poster

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    Ive been in the army for 6 years, certifications were prety much irrelevant. This has lead me to be the kind of person (geek if you will :P) that studies for enjoyment and personal interest.
    Find something on the net or forums that looks interesting, ill go study and research it.

    Its only now im leaving that ive really looked at getting certified, in the future i think getting some experience then looking at the certifications to work out what is required. Do some research and play with the relevant kit befre going for exams :)
     
    Certifications: MCSE
    WIP: Exchange, Share point - MOM as well
  9. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Well said Manic Monkey:rocks and thanks for your input:thumbleft
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  10. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    Great post UCM

    FWIW, here's my answers:

    Q) What goals do you set yourself when studying a Certification?

    Depends on why I'm taking the cert. If its for something that my employer wants me to do, then I'll study with the explicit aim of passing the test at the end of it. I tend to find this kind of study the least rewarding. If its for something that I want to study because it interests me, or that I think will interest me, I'll study the subject in a lot more depth - and tend to take longer over doing so.

    Q) How long do you leave it before booking the exam?

    As soon as I think I'm ready, every time - and go for the earliest available slot.

    Q) How do you keep your motivation?

    I love to learn. If I didn't enjoy working in IT I would be no good at it - I simply cannot understand people who just want to work in the industry because they think its the route to untold riches, firstly because its just not true, and secondly because I couldn't countenance ever doing a job I didn't enjoy just for the money.

    Q) Do you choose the job in IT first then go for the cert that is required for it?

    No way - I HAVE to want to do my job. I use certs as a way to keep myself updated and more employable, certainly, but mainly because I enjoy working with the technology and am one of those sad gits who actually enjoys studying :biggrin

    Q) What advice would you give someone who is focusing on the end result and will do anything to get there even use a brain dump!

    I am fervently anti-dump. I can understand why people use them when they are already working in the industry - especially if they are told by their employer that they need to pass a cert in a ridiculously short timeframe or they face being sacked. That doesn't, however, make it right. People who have no experience in the industry at all and try to braindump their way to an MCSE (for instance) are deluding themselves, paying lots of money for a worthless piece of paper and devaluing it for everyone else. Simply put, if you can pass an exam by memorising a load of test answers, but don't really know anything then you are about as useful as a pork chop at a bar mitzvah - sod off and go and work in HR or something.
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  11. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I want to bend the topic just a little and separate certifications from skills. Yes, it's true that certifications are supposed to verify the skills that a person has but they don't always. Conversely, people can have valuable work skills that aren't represented by a certification they hold.

    I have my A+ and Network+ certifications but I have to ask you...does that mean those are the only skills I have? Considering I'm a professional technical writer, I hope not. Also, I used to have a CCNA but let the cert lapse because I wasn't using it. I originally earned it because I really enjoyed networking and my early contract jobs involved a fair amount of networking. Managing networks was an early career goal of mine.

    My career took a different turn though, and I ended up not using those particular skills. Because of that, my abilities probably lapsed in that area before my certification actually expired. Part of me regrets not renewing it but if I don't work with Cisco networks all of the time, how would I retain my abilites, even if I passed the exams?

    Whether I'm pursuing a certification or not (and it's usually not), I do keep on the move to try to improve my skills as best I can. It's not always easy working a day job and writing at night and on the weekends and there are periods of time when I'm not studying at all.

    When I did my nine month contract stint at Micron, on the job, I learned HTML, CSS, and a little XML and JavaScript. I also learned how to administer a SharePoint Server 2003 site collection and leveraged that into learning SharePoint Server 2007. I'm continuing to work frequently with SharePoint and have learned things recently that I didn't know six months or a year ago.

    As I continue to move through my writing career and explore different aspects of it, I see more and more what areas I need to learn in to make myself more marketable. Very little writing actually has to do with text content and a great deal of it has to do with the tools you use.

    I've already have RoboHelp skills as well as regularly using SnagIt. I need to learn a lot more about GIMP and I've only had the chance to work sparingly with FrameMaker and Flash. Most recently, I used Epic to edit a large number of XML documents so I have that under my belt, but since I can't afford to buy all of those applications myself, unless the job gives me access and more importantly, the time to learn how to use them, it will be difficult to continue growing the way I want.

    Do I have certifications in any of the areas I've mentioned? Nope. Do I have the skills or am I learning them? Yes. Attaining certifications isn't the driving force behind my career. I don't have the time to study for them. Acquiring, maintaining, and expanding my work related skills is extremely important in order to get jobs and to not end up in a rut.

    Sorry for the ramble. Just shooting from the hip.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  12. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    These are just short answers:

    Passing the exam, increasing knowledge, etc (Why else would you start studing for an exam if you don't want to pass it?)

    1 month minimum. However that's one month minimum of proper studying with books, CBT's and test sims, etc. This does not include actually working with the technology before hand which can be a few months to a couple of years.

    By keeping focused on what I want to achieve, by using a wide variety of different study methods (books, CBT's, audio, etc) and by putting into practice whatever I can at work.

    Job first, then go for professional certification to "back" my skills. Especially at the level I am now. It's different when starting out, imo, when you can do the A+, Network+, MCDST and the like as they are entry/level 1 certs (not saying that they are lowly certs, as they're not. They are very valuable at any level).

    Don't, Microsoft can and will decertify you and you will be banned from taking any more exams, see here. Using braindumps, getting/paying someone to sit the exam for you and the like will only have bad effect in the long term. Rememer you have academic (degrees, diplomas, etc), vocational (NVQ's, etc) and the professional certs (MCP's, etc). If you aren't one way inclined, do another, eg if you're having problems with attaining the MCSA/MCSE thru lack of experience or knowledge, etc then maybe doing the BSc in Computing (Network Engineering) may be better suited to you, etc...

    Ahh, you guys get what I'm trying to say, got to get back to work...

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  13. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Thanks Zeb, quoted for the truth, concise and to the point:thumbleft :rocks :clap
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  14. Shepherdess

    Shepherdess Bit Poster

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    Well, getting into IT will actually mean less money for me, but this is what I enjoy doing (at the moment even clicking "next" is fun! :D ), and as long as I will be able to afford mortgage repayments, it's fine.
     
    WIP: MCSE, MCTS
  15. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    TRIP:-

    Thanks Trip for your input, but errr.... I didn't mean to imply that all doors are open to you once you have the cert/paper and not the experience. Of course you need the experience and there are certain skills of IT that you need, but the certs don't cover it!!

    I just wanted to get the message across to people that by taking a short cut, you are not only setting yourself up to fail you are also allowing yourself to get into debt and depression because you did set yourself realistic goals.

    A valued point made Zeb was the more people take short cuts such as Brain dumps the more they are devaluing themselves and the certificate.

    It has been mentioned on the news recently that the UK is heavy in debt, with people having an average debt of £25K. Then they go onto talk about the new bill passed in government that will allow more casino to be set up in the city's and online.

    Well it's the same with IT. There are so many adverts depicting how easy it is to get a job in IT and how rich everyone is? Tempting offers of buy now pay later. Don't worry about the debt because you will be in a high paid job by the end of your course as detailed in promotion ads.

    Now, let’s imagine Trip you work in a meat factory whereby you are packaging sausages all day every day. Until you read an advert about Earning 5 times the salary you’re on at the factory. It's a cleaner and exciting environment to be in!:biggrin

    You have a visit from the salesman who tells you web design or Network Security are the top jobs in IT and if you sign up to their course you could be on £50K a year.

    OK so you've been brainwashed, now comes the choice do go with the learning provider, get into debt!

    Maybe you decided to not go with that learning provider and do a boot camp.

    The thing that people forget, is you have to put the time in, you have to read a book. (:ohmy What I hear a lot people cry haven't read a book since school). You have to set realistic small goals to stict to them!

    Maybe I am being presumptuous here but I feel as though people miss the point and forget what it was like to learn something new. They want that flashy high paid job now! They can't go the long route they need to know the quickest route.

    That's what I am asking from you trip

    Q) How long did it take you to get these skills?

    Q) Do you find these skills come naturally without any problems?

    Q) Did you find you’re more confident in yourself by taking time to learn the subject probably rather than skimming the surface?

    8)
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  16. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Good point Mate!! :thumbleft

    Job satisfaction (it's always high on my list) because without this would you really stick to a job that you hate even though the pays good?8)
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  17. UCHEEKYMONKEY
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    UCHEEKYMONKEY R.I.P - gone but never forgotten. Gold Member

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    Thanks Ken!:super
     
    Certifications: Comptia A+
    WIP: Comptia N+
  18. warrmr

    warrmr Byte Poster

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    I partially agree with your post. mabe my situation is different to the one that you describe or it is the same.

    i decided about 8 months ago i wanted to get back into computers and IT. so i looked a a few training providers, i had consutation meetings ect. within the consultation it trys to convince you that you will get a high payed job as they promised a £18k job with 1 MCP no chance

    so i eventually went with the last training provider i found i wont mention the name here as it will most likley cause a flamewar as they have had many bad things said abotu them here (i can think of one topic i found on this very forum about the provider in with claiming to be Micorsoft ( there actually a gold partner)) but anyway im drifing offtopic here.

    so basicly they take my £8,000 and they promise me 3 certs MCSA, MCSE and MCDBA they also provide training for the A+ cert but you dont take the test ( i think i will do it off my own back in a month or 2 when i get money straight)

    so now this is where it gets hard, this provider takes anyone on be it a total n00b who just knows how to turn on a PC, to the person who has lived with computers and lives for them. so the n00bs slow down the pace a little and eventually get left behind by the class cos they havent got the inituitive to look things up and play with the tech.

    when i started the course i had computer experiance i took a BTEC ND for IT practitoners Software Development course at college, and got kicked off it for hacking the college network (i wrote programs that bypassed group policy (doesnt work in win2k3 )

    so now 6 months after starting the course i have passed my first 2 exams 270 and 290.

    now this is where i start to agree with your points. i went for a job interview friday, now i feel it went ok. not brilliantly i was given a computer aptitude the questions were very simple that i think i only got 1 wrong.
    but where the interview went wrong was a couple of points ( the agency that submitted my CV edited it to say i was adapt with MS office ( i use Open office) so my interviewer asked about word and outlook EG how to fix a corrupt word document "i said auto recover" he then asked what if that fails and i hadnt a clue.
    the next question i got was "what is the typical extention for a email file" i was like WTF he then asked extentions for word excel and access i replyed doc xls and mdb. then i was asked about the email extention and i give MLA as i had a feeling but I now know its PST
    also by studying a higher level course like the MCSA you tend to forget simple things. eg "user phones up and cannot log on what do you do" i went through all the troubleshooting on to higher level and missed the blinding ly simple is the password correct.

    so what im reallly trying to say is dont get wrapped up in certs. as you wont get far without thinking abotu things. and if you get a training provider trying to offer you jobs garenteed at 18,000 per year laugh at them or atleast question them as i am finding getting a job that even payes 15k hard i have had lots of agencys phone me up then realise the lack of expriance and just say no chace. all i want is a helpdesk job that pays the bills for the moment. eventually work up to security professional

    as for how long it took me to revise for the exams i did 40 days 9-5 working through the A+ MS 2285, 2274, 2277 and 2400
    then from when the course ended i spent 4.5 weeks revising for the 270 exam and 4 weeks revising for 290. im planning on 4 weeks on each 291 and 284( i think thats the exchange exam)

    i also think that employers are quite warey of people who have lots of certs and no experiance as i found in the interview i had there was alot of probing questions about my knowlage of computer systems and networking, whereas i think if i had have had a year or 2 of helpdesk they wouldent have been so probing on the tech questions i think ti would have been more abotu me and my work ethics. ( bearing in mind most of my intervies before this involved sitting in a pub with a pint with the genral manager. and it was a quick 5 mins thing.) this interview was a whole 3 hours ( there was a fire drill in the middle of it and i was waiting 20 mins in the lobby)

    sorry for the ramble if it makes sence then good. no doubt ill re read it in the morning and it will make no sence as its 3:30 am and i have jsut finished work and have to be back there at 12am :(
     
    Certifications: MCP 70-270, 70-290
    WIP: MCSA + Messaging, MCSE + Security
  19. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Sorry if I offended, Monkey. I did say I wanted to "bend" the topic just a bit to describe my own situation. While many people take the certification-experience-certification-experience etc route, sometimes certifications aren't always a practical option as in my case. For others, merging certifications and experience is. I was only trying to point out that there are different paths to the same goal.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  20. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Some excellent answers and I'm not sure I can add much to the debate, like Mike says we pretty much go over this every day ! :biggrin

    Q) What goals do you set yourself when studying a Certification?

    It really depends, sometimes its to learn the subject as thouroughly as possible, other times its just to get an overview.

    Q) How long do you leave it before booking the exam?

    I now book the exam as soon as I think i'm ready, I used to spend extra time to try to maximise my score and get close to 90%, however since most people never view your transcript its probably not worth it in most cases.

    Q) How do you keep your motivation?

    Sometimes I set an aggressive target and try to maintain momentum, once you lose momentum its hard to regain it. See above. Generally I enjoy learning IT, sometimes I will study a subject at length and in depth regardless of the cert.

    Q) Do you choose the job in IT first then go for the cert that is required for it?

    I think it helps to create a winning package to put in front of the employer, you are marketing yourself basically with everything you do, certs are just part of that. I also believe in study for its own sake and i also believe in using education to better yourself and move up or cross train. For example I wouldn't necessarilly penalise people with MCSE/CCNA etc without experience if a tech interview showed they knew their stuff, but I can see why the braindump issue colours peoples judgement in this area.

    Q) What advice would you give someone who is focusing on the end result and will do anything to get there even use a brain dump!

    Theres nothing wrong with being goal driven sometimes, but you still have to put the work in, its like the people on X factor that wanna be an instant star regardless of talent or effort, its just not that simple. I agree with freddy, I worked in IT for 7 years before I got a single cert, I also got a HND and a degree, I did this for the *knowledge* and experience not for the pieces of paper, I didn't even go the either of my two graduation ceremonies. Later I realised the importance of marketing which is largely why I pursue certs, because I already had an active interest in continual learning. I average about 12 computer books a year.

    Q) How long did it take you to get these skills?

    I've been using computers since age of 10 and continually learning, so 23 years ? Some certs took me a year to study, some one week.

    Q) Do you find these skills come naturally without any problems?

    Generally I can figure most things out these days because I have enough tools in my toolbox, part of it is 'learning how to learn', can you ask for help, can you use google, can you use your local bookstore, can you link concepts, can you troubleshoot, can you reverse engineer, etc

    It seems natural now, but I couldn't do many things until a fairly late age, so its obviously learnt behaviour.

    Q) Did you find you’re more confident in yourself by taking time to learn the subject probably rather than skimming the surface?

    Of course its better to take the time but it really depends on what your goal is, are you new to IT, are you experienced and just want an overview of another area ? etc

    Confidence is more of an attitude or a state of mind, theres many confident people that don't know jack but it doesn't stop them, look at confidence tricksters, look at actors...

    Ever watch the TV show 'Faking It', they often transformed people from shrinking violets into confident people in four weeks, of course theres many aspects to this and it is an edited tv show, but I hope you see my point.

    As for interviews I have 12-13 years of experience, references, qualifications and also certs, I still get treated badly by certain interviewers. Having certs is a double edged sword, some of my interviews were completely wasted with the interviewer spending their whole time trying to be columbo and trying to prove that I must be a liar, unfortunately its the way of the world. This is despite me trying to give them my transcript before the interview and when I do prove them wrong they are less than gracious about it. Theres no substitute to striking up a rapport with the interviewer, unfortunately this is not always possible however hard you try.
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH

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