Update on my 60 Days to MCSE

Wow, I have not posted on this topic for a very, very long time. I am writing an update around my path towards MCSE: Private Cloud and the mis-steps I took on the way. As it stands, I am way past 60 days from my start and I haven't even gotten out of the blocks.

Back in April 2012, a group of IT Professionals started our way to the new Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert for Private Cloud (MCSE:PC). It was Microsoft's return of the MCSE certification after it was stopped at one point with the move to Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP) with the Windows Server 2008 certifications. The old Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer is now the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, removing the word "Engineer" from the title in speculation to remove problems with governments or licensing boards around the world around the use of the title Engineer.1 Many of us that had some or none of the certificates needed to get this new MSCE:PC were going to set ourselves up to get this new certificate by MS TechEd in Orlando in June.

In my case, my eyes were a lot bigger than my "stomach" for this process. Early on, I had many impacts on my time cause by my job. One thing to understand is that I work in IT Management and not in a technical position per se. This means my time is spent in meetings, maintaining projects and working through administrative items. As such, technical certifications is something done on my own time, not a direct responsibility of my job. As my time was burned by work and other projects I work on outside of work, it did not leave me much time to work on my certification.

The next big impact on me not furthering myself down the certification path is the complexity of the certifications. An example is a friend of mine, Peter Gray, who is an Active Directory engineer as his day job. This should make the 70-640, Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring, a slam dunk for him. Come to find out, he did not pass his 70-640 test. He explains all that he learned in his testing preparation and taking on his own blog but it made me think this specifically:

He does this as a daily job and did not pass. I am out of the technical aspects most of the time because my role is more administrative. I can't just jump in and pass the test.

Microsoft has done a lot of changes to its certification testing to remove the possibility of "paper experts" that can pass the tests but can't apply that directly in real life. This is what I felt I was up against early in my career where I had practical, hands-on understanding while paper experts were getting hired because they had initials and I did not.

WP_000377Given these things, I focused on three tests in particular, the 70-640, 70-246, and 70-247, and my plan was to take all three at MS TechEd. I worked through the great TrainSignal training provided to the 60Days2MCSE group around the 70-640 test and built more on my home Windows 2008 R2 AD infrastructure. On top of that planning, I tried to setup some labs around the SCCM environment to prepare for the 246 and 247 tests. It was difficult to get through but I did get through one minor pass. Lastly, I sat in on a 70-640 test prep session at MS TechEd before I took the test and went into the lab provided to do practice tests.

After all of that preparation, I took the 70-246 and 70-247 free exams and the 70-640 that I paid for. In all three cases, I did not attain the proper scores to pass the exams. While not passing the free exams was a bit of a blow, failing the 70-640 was a tougher one to go through. I had hoped with the prep work I had done that I would have passed.

Now I find myself in September, work has taken over much of my time again and I find myself returning to my personal projects such as my blog and certifications. I have reflected on the process and will be looking at getting my certifications still. I will work through them differently than before and not think that I will just get them immediately as I thought I was before.

What sort of certification stories do you have? Have you worked through certifications but not passed like I did? If so, what did you do to get yourself situation to pass?



1 - The editorial at http://certcities.com/editorial/news/story.asp?EditorialsID=132&page=2 discusses the change of the title to remove Engineer in an effort to appease licensing boards in Canada. This has been speculated in conversations with folks. At this time, I do not know if it was ever confirmed by Microsoft.