Badge Collected – MCSD (Web Applications)

I know you have all been on the edge of your seat wondering why I haven’t been blogging recently! Well, I have been using my spare time to prepare for the “MCSD – Web Applications” certification, which I successfully completed yesterday. What a better way to get back on the blogging train than by quickly writing about my experience of the certification process!

For me, the biggest takeaway of doing this certification is that it provided a framework for learning and a tool for self-improvement. I also set myself a goal to finish it by the end of June. Without such catalysts, my natural tendency is to learn in an ad-hoc manner, and typically only as much as I need to for upcoming tasks at work. In studying for the exams I became familiar with technologies I didn’t even know existed previously (e.g. WCF Data Services or Entity SQL). To put it another way, I didn’t know what I didn’t know before! As a consultant that is expected to be at the top of my game and could get thrown anywhere in the Microsoft stack with minimal notice, having a prior understanding of everything in the toolbox certainly does not hurt. Furthermore, knowing how the range of ‘lego blocks’ can work together enables me to effectively design elegant solutions with different approaches – not just the way I may already know.

Some may suggest that in the age of intelli-sense and Google whether it is necessary. To be honest, during the grind of studying I asked myself that question too as I tried to memorise the third parameter on some function I was unlikely to ever use. I don’t know how much detail I will recall in future, but I am confident I will remember the key concepts of technologies I came across. It also gives me sufficient background knowledge to quickly navigate many technical problems effectively. I’m not suggesting I won’t need Google in future, but I dare say I won’t need it to learn ideas for the first time in the ‘heat of battle’ with a deadline looming.

Overall, while it took more time and effort than I originally expected, I am really glad I did it (I did take the time to write small snippets of code or click around the recesses of Azure I hadn’t previously.) Admittedly, I’m probably also one of the rare few that actually like to read the manual before getting a new toy or tool. I also happen to enjoy the process of learning and acquiring knowledge, if not necessarily studying or sitting for exams. There is an adage that ‘when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ … as a craftsman, I am now much more familiar with the range of tools at my disposal so I won’t need to use the same ‘hammer’ for every job!

But for now, I am going to delete the hundreds of MSDN and other bookmarks I accumulated during the course of my study! 🙂