One year ago, 6th of June 2013, I left my home in Australia to fly to the US to attend a SharePoint training at Microsoft. It wasn’t any old training…
This was Microsoft’s most intensive technical training delivered for ‘Certified Masters’ candidates.
The most expensive Microsoft Certification & training I have attempted.
December 2012: Preparing to upgrade my MCITP to MCSA: Window’s Server 2012.
13th January 2013: Applied for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM): SharePoint Certification Program.
I was informed the whole Application process would take 2-4 weeks!
1. Application is reviewed for program pre-requisites
2. Candidate is notified of pre-requisite status
3. Candidate is given access to document submission portal
4. Candidate uploads supplemental application documents
5. Documents are reviewed and approved
6. Candidate is scheduled for interview
7. Candidate is notified of application status
8. If accepted, candidate selects training date and pays program fee
9. Candidate receives welcome letter with training details
16th January 2013: Passed the MCSA: Window’s Server 2012 upgrade exam, a prerequisite to the MCSM SharePoint program.
20th January 2013: Darling Harbour, Sydney. I spent my birthday updating my CV and creating a sanitised document of my most recent SharePoint experience. I finally submitted it late night that night while the rest of my family slept in the hotel room.
The next two days I spent creating and uploading more documents to satisfy and support the Application decision to get into the next phase – the screening interview.
24th January 2013: I got selected to attend an “MCSM: SharePoint Pre-Interview briefing” a 20 minute phone discussion on to ensure I was up to speed on what to expect from the MCSM SharePoint program and the interview process.
7th February 2013: The one hour intensive screening interview followed a week afterwards and was performed as a service to candidates” to ensure their technical readiness for the program.
The discussion lasted one hour and I soon realised my weaknesses in SharePoint (a lot!). It was a broad and deep discussion and finally in a week or two to assess my readiness for the Masters Training. I was assured it wasn’t a go/no-go interview, so that calmed me a bit…don’t know why they called it ‘screening interview’ though.
12th February 2013: A 10 minute feedback on my interview and it confirmed my weaknesses in SharePoint 2013. Already humbled and knew I had a lot of work ahead of me. Finally, I realised that I was selected into the Master’s program – a life changing experience awaits me!
There was more paperwork to sign and complete over the next few weeks.
I had two intakes I could choose from:
Masters Rotation 14 (R14):
March 10 – May 23, 2013 – Hybrid Rotation
Onsite Portion: March 10 – 16, 2013
Remote Portion: March 19 – May 23, 2013
Masters Rotation 15 (R15):
June 9 – August 22, 2013 – Hybrid Rotation
Onsite Portion: June 9 – 15, 2013
Remote Portion: June 18 – August 22, 2013
I chose the R15 as I didn’t want to be a jerk and take off from my clients mid-contract. June sounded good because I could spend the much needed time outside of my contract and dedicate my time towards studies.
R15 was a unique, once in a lifetime rotation that I attended – the first and the last.
6th June 2013: Fly from Sydney – Los Angeles – Seattle.
Take a cab to my accommodation at Extended Stay America, Bellevue, WA. The staff were very friendly, everyone was friend and I sort of expected that considering my previous 5 visits to the US when I was much younger. There is a thing or two Australia needs to learn about customer service and courtesy in general.
The training was so intense! All my fellow candidates were so advanced in SharePoint, it was intimidating! Everyone worked very hard learning, researching and updating themselves on the product features – documented and undocumented
It was great to meet instructors like Spence Harbar and get taught by Vesa Juvonen. I am amazed at their knowledge!
I spent months doing the remote delivery training and juggling part time work and family life.
Things went almost according to plan until the 31st of August.
We learned that the certification that we all worked so hard for, Microsoft decided to retire on 31st August 2013, 3 days after my first exam attempt. R15 candidates were the last of the SharePoint Masters trained rotation at Microsoft, Redmond. I felt lucky (yet unfortunate) to be in the R15 batch. After much anguish and pain, I decided not to pursue my certification anymore and cut my losses. It took months to recover.
Long story short, I was able to get a 100% refund of the training fees, so I was left with no option but to look at the glass half full – I received a SharePoint Masters training for free and all the hands on labs that came with it!
I learned with the Masters by the Masters! I was privileged to make a lot of new friends who were already Certified Masters and Certified Architects in SharePoint.
Here is a tribute to the memories of my trip last year:
If Microsoft didn’t retire the program, I would have been happy to have an MCSM behind my name with a nice logo:
Whats most important is the learning I received. No, not SharePoint but the fact that specialising in a product is rewarding but also has risks associated with it.
One year on and I have embraced other technologies. I have gone back to my roots of being an Systems engineer at heart, building infrastructure solutions, fixing infrastructure and applications issues, allowing business and management to use my skills and experience across a suite of products that I am familiar with.
In the years ahead, I plan to expand my offerings to the public and in the workplace through blog posts, organising events, training, consultations and support.
The cloud is no threat to me. It never has been. I see our ICT systems will get more complicated in the years ahead and business is looking for those who can adapt, embrace and apply new technologies rapidly.
The skill of unlearning and relearning is something any one should pick up to be a Master of anything in IT.