First let me say that in the past ~44 days I have been at my new job, my knowledge has come in leaps and bounds. I look back and where I was, and what knowledge I had, and I'm truly amazed at it all. I began with a merely inkling of understanding, and now I'm up to almost up to middle school. But wow, thats still a ton.

Drowning in knowledge

Being immersed in any learning situation will definitely give you the edge. I'm in over my head, but I'm fighting for more. The team I'm around truly understand the depth of the information I'm learning. And are all so willing to explain, and even bring you into the issue so you'll learn more. Each time I have questions, they'll answer. When I'm confused, they'll explain. They'll point me to the documentation, and then help me piece it together. You can't help but learn.

But there was no turning back, so I clicked the 'Continue' button.

My days begin early. I'm usually at work by 7:30am, and yet I'm still far from being one of the first ones in. Some of the engineers (no, not tech's) get in at 6:15am and others about 6:45am-7:00am. And they are there at that time by their own desire. They seemingly love getting in that early so they can get everything together and get a head start. I still think they're a little messed up in the head :). But the system works for them, so if it isn't broke don't mess with it.

Class after class

Two week's ago I attended and completed System Administration and Data Administration classes. Sys Admin class was 2 days while Data Admin was 3. These high-end classes are instructor lead and contain labs after each module. So about 445 pages of information with about 50 pages of labs. While all of the information was logical for me and I understood it, there was just so many small things. Bits and pieces, and they were all part of a larger puzzle. Honestly, the thought of the exam for this made me apprehensive. Its exam 3 of 4. If I pass this, I've only got 1 more left to go.

1step

Most of the engineers with me would give me a lot of motivation. Telling me things like "you've got this" and "this one will be easy for you". But something in the back of my mind told me not to rest up or lay back. So I spent all last week going over all of the documentation again, re-read the labs, took notes, etc. If I wasn't on a call learning one thing, I was studying for the Admin exam.

Seek no refuge

I would gather some confidence bit by bit as I studied. But as soon as I walked away, I felt like I'd forgotten everything I just learned. But I'd sit back down and get back at it. More reading, more notes. All through the week I had told everyone I would be taking the exam on Friday. So on Friday of last week, in the afternoon, I logged on and clicked the button to begin.

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Nervousness was all I was feeling. Don't fail. Don't mess this up. If you screw up, you have to wait another week to retake it. If you don't pass, what will everyone think. Yeah....that loud inner voice of impostor syndrome had ahold of my head.

The first question? It was so easy. The second question, even easier. I knew the first 10-15 questions off the top of my head. I didn't have to do any checks or searches. I was flying. This was easy.

......queue dramatic music

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But then...then things took a sudden and overly dramatic shift. A question I had no clue about. I swear it was written in cyrillic or some long lost ancient language of the Druids. Dread washed over me. 'This is where it gets me' I thought to myself. I looked in my doc's, nothing. I looked in my notes, nothing. So now it was time to look online, still nothing. No wait, I saw a blip. Dig further, deeper, there the answer was. And thats how most of the exam went. Question, search, sweat, fear, find something close, read, make a decision. Seemingly it was this way until about the last 5 questions, which were pretty easy as well.

Good is the enemy of great.

At the end, the final warning "You will now be shown your score. You need 75% to pass. You will not be shown the questions that were answered wrong. Etc." All I read was "We'll now show you how much you failed by". But there was no turning back, so I clicked the Continue button.

Hold your breath

I was taken to the score page, and I was presented with the message that I was now a certified administrator. But I didn't see that at all. I was frantically scanning the page looking for my final score. When I finally slowed myself down I saw I had passed. Elation overwhelmed me. Excitement made me want to shout. I somehow was able to keep myself calm and stood up and loudly exclaimed "YES!".

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I took a deep breath and relief washed away any last hint of apprehension. I thanked all those that gave me words of wisdom and votes of their confidence. During that time, I started to feel a little bit like I was becoming part of the team. Thats always a nice feeling.

Line them up

Now I look to whats next. More classes, more notes, more studying, and the biggest exam of them all. Architect. This isn't a pen and paper exam. This is a "here are your instructions, there are your blank computers, now go prove yourself an architect and create it all from scratch". I have plenty of time to practice and study. I have testing environments and a lot of knowledge. The exam will take up to 24 hours to finish. Not 2 each 12 hour shifts. One, straight, 24 hour day to do it all.

I'm looking forward to it.

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