VCP-DCV 2020 Passed, and “Fail Fast” Certification

In this post a few weeks ago I had ear-marked 5th May as the target to complete my VMware VCP-DCV 2020 certification, after many months of neglecting my personal certification progress and goals, and with the worry that if I didn’t pass some kind of certification by then that I would have squandered the extra study time Covid-19 unintentionally gifted us.

I passed the exam by that target date, with a certain amount of relief, but as usual I completely over-studied and over-thought it, resulting in breezing the exam with ease and leaving me feeling like I could have passed it months ago.

This is a re-occurring theme for me. That’s not a brag; I don’t consider acing certifications as being an endorsement of expertise in a subject, and I don’t believe I now know much more about VMware infrastructure than I had already learnt from hands-on experience. It’s more a sign that my study plan is flawed. Certifications are just an indication that you were able to retain subject knowledge over a short period of time; knowledge that is often completely irrelevant to your day-to-day work tasks, or which you’ll only use once or twice a year, during a roll-out for example or infrastructure change, which you’re going to plan and double check with a quick Google or documentation lookup anyway. I probably put too much significance on the study guide being essential knowledge for my job, when in reality, it’s not. On a scale of usefulness, between cert study, lab work, and hands-on experience, certification is at the bottom of the table.

In saying that though, certifications are certainly rewarding, almost like an IT leveling system, and they are worth something on your CV. The VMware VCP is the first cert I’ve gained in almost a year, but with passing the exam I feel a second wind of sorts; I’ve a new-found enthusiasm for study and am seriously itching to open up a new cert guide!

I think that’s one of the secrets of the people I see on LinkedIn who have dozens of industry certs; you need to embrace that feeling and keep going, because it certainly wanes quickly. Always be chipping away at your next cert. Never be idle. I only recently became aware of the “fail fast” philosophy, which I think is very applicable to certification. Our industry moves fast, and you need to keep up with it. You don’t really have the luxury to spend 3 – 6 months studying for a certification. There’s guys out there nailing 2 or 3 certs in that time. Are they learning the material as deeply as you? Maybe not, but how often have you needed to know off the top of your head the maximum threads that can be created per vNIC? If you really needed to know this in a production setting, I feel you would double check documentation anyway. This is stuff you retain for the exam, and then very quickly drop…to allow something more worthwhile to be retained! Take what you need from the course and move on.

I’ll be look at completing the MCSE: Core Infrastructure next I believe. Again, this is a sore reminder of previous procrastination; I completed my Server 2012 MCSA about 3 years ago, if not longer, and yet here I am only now getting around to taking the one single exam needed gain an MCSE. Originally June was the retirement date for the MCSE, but due to Covid, this has been extended to January 2021. I see that as a blessing of sorts, and an indication that I should get cracking into the MCSE as soon as possible, even if it is a cert with limited shelf life now. But no sitting around for the next 6 months studying on and off. Let’s set a date and keep myself accountable again, and let’s try out the fail-fast theory: so the target for MCSE is end of month, 31st of May, 3 weeks. See you then!

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