And in the beginning, there was light…
Everything started mid 2011. Actually, a lot earlier than that. SharePoint 2010 MCM program got my attention sometime during 2010 but I knew there is no chance to get funding and time required to prepare for one of the rotations. Apart of that, I was already few years into SharePoint architecture and infrastructure as IT professional but my developer skills were practically limited to PowerShell scripting. It was not bad but I felt I need more…
And then I’ve changed the company. I was seeking for new opportunities and challenges. I’ve been involved in more development projects now but my main point of interest was still the architecture and infrastructure. One day, driving with my boss from Stuttgart to Cologne we were talking about few projects, future plans and personal development. A great opportunity to pull the question out like: “What about SharePoint 2010 MCM certification?”. He looked at me with a dose of skepticism and amount of expectation at the same time. “Do you actually know what it is all about?”, he asked. I’ve explained to him that I am already good informed about the program. That I am not afraid to be part of it but that I have a great respect of it. It is not to be taken lightly. We talked about it a good part of the trip. He was convinced. He told me he’ll talk with the management about that.
Few days after, I received a call from him. Things were in motion. Now it was all up to me to finish missing certifications.
I was a participant in beta exams for SharePoint 2010. This does not mean, it was simpler or we had a better treatment. It was hard; there were no real books for preparation and the only knowledge source was TechNet and MSDN. Things were even more complicated – SharePoint 2010 needed lot more “juice” then 2007, so my Dell Latitude 1700 with dual core CPU and 4 GB RAM just couldn’t pull it (grill party on CPU - maybe, but no useful user experience). It was pretty hard to get the product knowing without proper hardware to let it run on. Luckily for me, the company I’ve worked for upgraded its virtualization infrastructure so I could get my virtual machines for testing.
I took both IT Pro tests and passed them as a beta participant. Yes, I have now nice certificates stating I am a “charter member”. A little extra to compensate the pain for going through more than 80 questions per exam including identifying errors in questions as well (that's what is beta for, y'a know). But I’ve understood that a solid knowledge of SharePoint 2007 and good knowledge about architectural changes in 2010 will do the job. And they did.
I was missing two developer exams for MCM prerequisites. I started studying sometime in October 2011. Not having much free time and being involved in one project as technical architect full time, I completed 70-573 end of January 2012 and 70-576 a month after. I had everything I needed.
The next logical thing to do was to apply for the program :). Information about registration process can be found under http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/master.aspx#tab3. Basically it is nothing else as leaving personal information and paying non-refundable US$125 application fee. Once it was done, I got a mail with receipt and information about next steps. These included registration to Microsoft Enterprise Portal Application for submitting required documentation. The required documentation was consisted of following:
- My Résumé / CV
- A project description and description of my role
- Sanitized document from this project.
I updated my CV, prepared a project and role description and cleaned my project document. I had to wait for my customer to do the review of the sanitized document and approve it for use as a part of my MCM application. Time was my worst enemy as the deadline for submission was coming with speed of light. Finally I got the approval (thanks Andreas! :)) and uploaded everything I got. Now it was up to Microsoft.
The next day I got a mail from Brett Geoffroy, a Senior Program Manager from Advanced Certification Team at Microsoft. The mail contained an invitation to a pre-interview briefing. Few days after, we had a call and opportunity to get to know each other. He explained me in detail what is ahead of me. He told me a bit about program itself, some facts about exams and gave me some information about coming technical interview.
I had few days to prepare for the interview. I had to go through the pre-reading list, read about things I know less and to review things I know well. The road so far was not easy. And it was not about getting easier! I knew what was ahead of me…
Talking to the devil itself...
… I thought! I was terrified. Brett arranged a meeting pretty quick. He already informed me that another MCM could be interviewing me as well. It turned out, Ram had this pleasure. He was really good at his stuff. He guided me through the interview really professionally, recognized where the questions were not precise enough but he was able to put the traps along the road. His task was to find my weak points and to recognize my strengths. And he did darn good job on this!
So, we had an half an hour chat about various technical topics. Brett took over last 15 minutes and we talked about few capacity topics and a bit about development. Due to tight schedule, he promised results of an interview within 48 hours...
I was really nervous. Although my opinion still is, that the screening interview is pretty straight forward and fair, it revealed my weak points as well. Am I good enough? This question was bothering me most of next 2 days...
Part II >