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Considering expanding my skill sets

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by tripwire45, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I applied for a job two days ago that I haven't a prayer of getting but since the job I'm *supposed* to be hired on to has put me "on hold" for almost a month now, I figured "what the heck". I did get me to thinking though.

    I don't know if I'm biting off more than I can chew and this is probably the wrong direction for me to take, but I took a look at what this company (which shall remain nameless) is looking for. The title of the position is System Administrator II - SharePoint. Here's how it's laid out:

    Job Summary
    This position is responsible for the design, implementation, configuration, maintenance, administration, and integrity of the company's Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) environment software tools, utilities, and procedures; serves as a project resource for production implementation and integration of SharePoint throughout the company; and leads design, implementation, and optimization of solutions that address operational needs around collaboration and content management tools (I thought this was all a bit wordy, but that's what they wrote).

    Knowledge
    SharePoint: Advanced
    .Net: Basic
    Active Directory: Intermediate
    VMware: Basic
    MS SQL Server: Intermediate
    IIS: Intermediate

    General knowledge of Active Directory and network security and in-depth understanding of SharePoint architecture, security model, and configuration options.

    Skills
    Hands-on experience with SQL Server 2003 and strong interpersonal and verbal/written communication skills.

    Experience
    In-depth experience with Microsoft SharePoint server environment. Hands-on experience with MOSS and IIS 6.0/5.0 and SQL Server 2005, third-party SharePoint tools, Microsoft .Net development, web application development, VMware, SharePoint customization and integration, and SharePoint Designer and workflow/template design.

    It goes on to mention wanting someone with in-depth experience in Exchange, Outlook, and Office in general.

    While I consider myself at least a competent SharePoint site collection administrator, I know that I'm not a developer and have no experience at all with MS SQL Server.

    However, if I were so bold as to set out for myself a goal of ramping up to a position such as the one I've just outlined, where do you think would be a good study path and what would be good study resources. I could bounce around the forum and the Internet trying to put together a list but I figured I'd mine the collective knowledge at CF and see if I could get away with not having to "reinvent the wheel".

    I don't even know if this is within my ability to learn and become proficient but I thought I'd ask and see what ideas you all could come up with. If nothing else, it makes for an interesting puzzle.

    Thanks in advance for your feedback.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. simongrahamuk
    Honorary Member

    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    I think that you would have nothing to loose by going for it Trip. Your past experience with Sharepoint, and your all round general knowledge should give you a good chance.

    I'd say that you already have a lot of the prerequisite skills, the fact that you have wrote books on both Server 2003 and Sharepoint should tell you that. The SQL skills and the developer aspect may well be where you are lacking, but doesn't share point run on an underlying SQL engine? That may simply be all the SQL skills that they need.

    As has been said in the past job adverts are written looking for the ideal candidate, which 95% of the time doesn't exist, its then that they look to the people's skills who have applied. Any new employee to an organisation needs time to 'bed in', you could (if offered the position) use this time to develop your skills accordingly.

    8)
     
  3. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    What simongrahamuk said, you might as well go for it. Almost all my skills that I've learned and developed on the job have been on technology/system that I knew nothing about until they were dumped on my lap. Judging by your experience and expertise the only thing you'll have to brush up on is SQL, and you can do that by grabbing a book and playing around with it :biggrin

    At least that's my opinion.

    -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
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  4. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Yes, SharePoint *can* run on an underlying SQL server but for anything of size such as a server farm, it relies on SQL Server 2003 for database services. There are a lot of ways to tweak elements in SharePoint programmatically but that requires programming skills. I'm writing a book on the SharePoint administration certification now but there's a separate SharePoint *developer* certification offered by MS that I am not qualified to write.

    BTW, I *did* apply for the position so who knows? I may even get an interview. But that's a long way from being fully qualified to do the job.

    What I"m asking here is what certs or cert study resources might best fit the areas where I'm lacking. Despite the fact that my first book was on Windows Server 2003, I don't consider it my best effort and in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have taken the book on. I've been criticized and rightly so for not knowing the subject matter to the degree that I should have and of course, I've never administered a production Windows server system and don't even do so in my home lab on a day-to-day basis.

    So back to my query...if I wanted to "bone up" so to speak, what would help in filling in the blanks in the area of Active Directory, SQL Server, and .NET development (gee...I don't ask for much, do I?)?
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  5. simongrahamuk
    Honorary Member

    simongrahamuk Hmmmmmmm?

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    I'd generally recommend that you take a look at the O'Reily books Trip, If they do them the 'In a Nutshell' series. They tend to cover an awful lot and are great as a reference tool.

    Active Directory
    SQL
    I'm not sure if O'Reily do a book for .net
     
  6. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Trip,

    I wouldn't study for a certification. I'd put the money into being able to work with Sharepoint at home in my lab, and getting books on the fundamentals and understanding how Sharepoint works. Then I would start working with it hands-on on a daily basis setting it up, imagining different ways it could be configured and then configuring it for different tasks in those environments. Then purposely break something so you can see the results and troubleshoot the problems created.

    I don't know about you, but that's where I really learn. I find such lab work invaluable for gaining real world skills.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA, A+
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  7. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I didn't mean to imply that I wouldn't be using a lab setup and in fact, I do have MOSS 2007 running on a virtual Windows Server 2003 machine in VMware. The thing is, to expand the way I see that will do me the most good, I'm going to have to build on that modest start, install at least one Domain Controller and probably a SQL Server. Not sure what to do about the ".NET" factor yet. I'll need to go through the books I've received for review and see if I have any that apply to the relevant areas.

    I've got "tons" of SharePoint books by various publishers (the one I wrote hasn't arrived yet) including O'Reilly, SAMS, and Wrox so I have no lack of documentation there. That plus TechNet is a really good resource in these areas.

    I guess what I'm asking is how to get organized. I don't particularly need to pursue any certifications in any of these areas but I'd like to explore building my knowledge and hands-on experience in these areas. I am a person who very much thrives on structure and don't want to just go haphazardly bouncing off of walls. Since I already have some knowledge and experience in the SharePoint arena, it seems to make sense to build on it rather than dump it and start from scratch.

    Thanks for the responses so far...they are all very good. Keep 'em coming.

    BTW...if there are a few of you out there who are too polite to tell me that you think my learning curve is too steep, you can feel free to PM me and share your more "frank" opinions and advice. I know that I'm basically a writer who knows just enough technology to make me dangerous. :oops:

    That said, I hope I've still got a few good brain cells left to be able to learn new things.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  8. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    I think this question is something that most, if not all, of us ask ourselves when we are looking to move on from our current role - what do I need to know to reach the next level/goal/desired job?

    You've applied for the job - thats the best thing - if I was interviewed I would want to have an understand of what each of the requirements are. Sharepoint - while not a developer, you have a pretty good understanding. SQL and .net - pick up a book and read it - nothing too technical, especially if you know zilch - but enough so you can explain what something is, say you recognise it etc.

    If you knew everything they wanted on their list, what would stop you from doing this job until the next best one comes along - if they train you up/see space for improvement they may decide to have you as you're more likely to stay around longer.
     
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  9. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    I think only you can really answer that question. You know what you don't, and do, know. Find a source that shows the different ways a Sharepoint server can be used, i.e. the different environments it is used in, and then do what it takes to set it up for each environment that you think you would be interested in working in. As for the development side of things, when you find something you need to modify or create for each scenario start learning how write scripts and the like to do those things. That's exactly what you would have to do in the real world, and it gives you some sort of self-defined structure. Your learning environment when learning on-the-job is defined by your work environment and what you need to accomplish. Why should your self-defined learning environment be different?

    While working I learn what I need to do the tasks I have right in front of me. I don't set out some sort of arbitrary structure and then learn according to it. I'd be studying things unrelated to what I'm doing most of the time. That's how the real world works. You have to be flexible to fit into it. But, you already know that, so maybe I really don't understand your question.
     
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  10. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    Trip,

    Here's an example from what I'm faced with right now at work. I'm having to learn xml, xsl, and xslt. I also have to learn how Apache uses mod-xslt to do transforms, and how an Apache server without the mod-xslt module installed will process those same tasks. On top of that I am going to have to learn a bit of PHP5 so I can modify PHP scripts used on the website as our PHP developer is stuck on a complicated issue that is going to take time to finish, and is an overall higher business priority than my work on the development server.

    So, I'm going to be jumping all over the place learning some of this, some of that, some of something else again, all to accomplish one task. It's structured, but not how I would imagine how you see a structured learning environment.
     
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    WIP: LPIC 1
  11. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Jumping all over the place is something I work hard to avoid. I have this very wide scope of "vision" in terms of what I'd like to learn but I have a hard time getting all of that into bite-sized chunks and organizing my "meal" into reasonable "courses".

    It's not that I'm ADHD or anything....* Oh look! Bright lights!!! * ....but staying on task is kind of tough for me. I think that's why I'm asking this basic question here. All that said, I really like structure. When my wife gives me her "honey do" list, I literally organize it as "Task 1, Task2, Task 3", and so on. When she starts adding on to it or rearranging the way I have the jobs set up, it drives me completely batty.

    I think that's why I like organized education...because of the structure. It's why I learn better out of some books than others. If I can get some idea of where to find information, I can weave it together into some sort of pattern that I can follow and learn from.

    My wife says I can't multi-task and I'm sure she's right. I need to have the whole A-B-C-D structure in order to learn. Put me in a global learning situation and either I'm fail miserably or I'll reorganize my conceptualization of the situation to make it linear. It's one of the few ways I'm "typically male". :oops:
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  12. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    One of the advantages of reviewing books is that people send me a lot of books. Here's the list of the SharePoint books I have and most of the SQL books that I have:

    Beginning SharePoint 2007

    Real World SharePoint 2007

    Professional SharePoint 2007 Development

    Essential SharePoint 2007

    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Unleashed

    Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Management and Administration

    SQL Server 2005 Practical Troubleshooting the Database Engine

    SQL Queries for Mere Mortals, 2nd Ed.

    Not sure where to go as far as .NET development yet or Active Directory. I do have a few books like Learning ASP.NET 2.0 with AJAX and Build Your Own ASP.NET 2.0 Web Site Using C# and VB but somehow, I don't think they have the correct focus.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  13. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    You could probably learn enough about basic SQL Server and .Net dev to be useful in about two weeks, put that with you existing experience and you should be fine for the job.

    Development and Databases can be as simple or as involved as you like depending on the task at hand, generally most people need two years good experience before they are really competent. It sounds like largely an installation and administration job with a bit of general consultancy. You sound like a fairly good match for their requirements, providing you can pick up basic SQL and .Net skills.
     
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  14. ffreeloader

    ffreeloader Terabyte Poster

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    If you really work hard to avoid having to jump around at learning, and doing, then stepping into a job that will require you to learn a lot of new things to do it, might not be a good thing for you. Not that you're not smart enough to do it, but the variety of things you'll need to learn will by necessity cause you to learn some of this and some of that at the same time. It might be pretty uncomfortable for you.

    My job covers a wide variety of technologies. I administer an Apache Web server that has multiple virtual hosts set up, a couple of MySQL databases, an Exim4 mail server that has a half dozen virtual domains, troubleshoot a couple of desktops, set up ssh tunnels for secure access into our servers, and I'm learning xml, xsl, sxlt, php, python, and Zope and Plone, as that's where the business will be migrating sometime in the future, as well as constantly learning more in the other areas I have to cover. I'm knee deep in projects and new-to-me technology constantly.

    In most small businesses that's the way it is. You have to learn multiple things at one time, multi-task constantly, or you just don't get the job done. Maybe that's why I like the small business setting. I like the "confusion" of having my fingers in several different things at the same time. It definitely keeps me from getting bored, and it will ultimately give me a very wide-ranging set of skills. Whether I end up a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none or a very solid admin in a lot of areas is still to be determined, but I'm sure having fun in the process.
     
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  15. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    It's not that I get helpless and confused in a multitask job, it's that it helps me learn when my *learning plan* is linear and organized. If I couldn't mulittask and be adaptive on the job, I'd be living in a cardboard box under a bridge. :tongue

    This has to do with learning styles, not work habits. :wink:
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  16. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Don't worry trip, I was the same for a long time, now i'm probably more like freddy. Generally attention to detail, throughness and focus are all good traits for programmers and probably a lot of IT in general. I used to refuse to touch stuff unless I'd read several books on the subject, nowadays my general experience and a little googling gets me though and reading the manual isn't always required.

    You're probably right to have this attitude to subjects you know little about like SQL Server and .Net development, without some background you could dig yourself a very big hole. I'd just apply for the job and be honest about your abilities, while working on improving the weak areas. After all, if they wanted a developer or DBA they'd have asked for one ! :biggrin
     
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  17. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Well, I did apply last week but they won't be responding as far as telling me if I get a face-to-face interview or not until the job announcement closes after November 1st. Of course, I do start my new job at iAnywhere (Sybase) next Tuesday, so the sense of "desperation" I was feeling when I applied has eased off.

    To try and answer my own question, I feel like I've got enough SharePoint and SQL books on hand to give it a good, running start. The .NET part is a bit of a stumper so I Googled it and came up with a couple of links. The first is older and doesn't seem particularly useful but the second one at least offers a "learning path" which is what I was looking for.

    http://expertanswercenter.techtarget.com/eac/knowledgebaseAnswer/0,,sid63_gci984286,00.html

    http://www.shahine.com/omar/LearningNET.aspx

    The result seems to be that I'd need to learn some basic programming...probably in C++ and C# before I could tackle .NET. Since I have no actual programming experience (except for dabbling in JavaScript which probably doesn't qualify), I've decided to "cut my teeth" on a Python tutorial for non-programmers offered here:

    http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/alan.gauld/

    This site does something rare...it explains the concept of programming from the ground up and lets you learn programming with a high-level language so you are actually laying a foundation you can build on. I try to devote some time each day to this. I know it's slow and probably really primitive from everyone else's perspective, but if I can get my brain around the *idea* of programming, learning Python and then expanding outwards should eventually be "doable". Cheers. :)
     
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  18. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Sounds like an excellent plan, welcome to the world of programming ! :biggrin

    Python is one of the few langauges I've never touched, but I'll help out where I can.
     
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  19. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    I haven't done any python programming either.

    One reason for my reluctance is that I gather that in python white-space is significant. As I have programmed many other languages, and in all of them white-space wasn't significant (except in a few special cases) so I feel that I may struggle if I need to do python! :biggrin

    Harry.
     
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  20. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Actually I hear that Python is fairly easy to learn (easier than Perl, for example) and it's not only a good programming language, it's a good language to learn programming with. Anyway, for me it's too soon to tell. I'll report in after I've gotten some more experience.
     
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