The past few weeks have been quite a trying time for me, but still a thrilling ride. As I've mentioned, I have a new job which requires massive training to get up to speed in order to properly do said job. At least, thats the idea. So with that, I've set a series of goals for myself to do the best and not let this opportunity pass me by.

The first set of goals was to learn about the new company, the people I'm working with, the culture, the language, etc. This is a normal first step for practically anyone joining a new company. With this step, formal and structured training was involved. "Onboarding" they called it. Literally it was structured day by day. Seriously. It is all done online. You log in, click on "Day 1" and watch videos or take exams. Some days you'll go through more than 8 hours of video, and you'll ask "How can 10 hours of videos be done in one 8 hour day?" Surely they don't expect you to stay on schedule when you go through this.

Just how thirsty are you?

But in fact, this is normal. Talking with all of my new coworkers (think 'highly intelligent species mascarading as geeks, bikers, nerds, mechanics, gamers, chess masters, hockey fans') this is all very normal. You're going through so much knowledge it's like drinking from a firehose. And this is all just about the company and its tools. Nothing about your job or the tools you'll use to accomplish it. Ah yes, good times. So the training is basically set up as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10-20, 21-30, 30-on. But by day 4 you're bug-eyed, ears ringing, loss of coherent understanding, or independent thought. Its just a whole lot to take in day after day after day. Wow. It was truly awesome.

Just 12 eager people, ready to start a new road in life.

By the end of day 9, I was able to catch up to the end of day 8. Go me. But by the end of day 15, I was finished up with day 20. With all of the training, you get into the grove and hit your sweet spot. By day 30 I was looking through a lot of the additional training that wasn't required. And I had also been going through the course materials and training for the User and Power User certifications.

Set them up, knock them down

I blazed through the User cert, and kicked ass on the Power User cert. The classes, Fundamentals I and Fundamentals II, still introduced a lot of foreign information to me. But I studied as much as I could. Again, not wanting to waste this opportunity. Having a "User certification" was nice, having a "Power User certification" was nicer. And while these were good to have, everyone around me had their Architect cert. Comparing what I had to them was like comparing a picture made in MS Paint to a Van Gogh. While an accomplishment for me, everyone else had been there...done that.

Next, getting the Admin certification. This requires two training classes. System Administration and Data Administration. They're slightly different. Sys Admin is more front end, and Data Admin is more back end. I studied my ass off for this one. I knew the exam would cover more information than just what the classes covered. I studied, I studied, I studied. I asked the same questions from many people, just to get the different answers so I could understand it better. I told everyone, "Friday is the day" I'd take the test. Originally I just put that out there with no intention of actually taking the test. But on that Friday, I actually took the test and passed. Relief.

Lets get started

That joy lasted a mere 2.5 days. Oh Monday, my focus was directly upon becoming an Architect. No, thats not true. I set my sights on becoming a 2nd level Architect. I had already enrolled in the training classes. I had already heard the stories from others. "They give you 24 hours, but it took me 18 hours to finish". Others said it took them 15 hours, or "those f'n dashboards kicked my butt over and over". Nothing good from anyone, all horror stories. And this all from people that knew what they were doing. I'm some clueless guy just faking it.
Study, ask questions, sit in on meetings with team leaders & their customers. Soak it all in, at least try to. And thats what I did. Every. Day. Towards the end, I took the classes that were required for Architect II even before I had taken the 24hr exam for Architect I. I figured that it could only help me. So after that, I registered to take my exam lab. No more training, now was the time for doing.

You can do this

My test was on Tuesday, and I had 2 other coworkers taking it on Monday. I'm thinking that they'd come in on Tuesday and tell me what I could expect. Wrong. Its a 24 hour test. Their test ended at 11:30am Tuesday, mine started at 11:30am on Tuesday. So much for head starts. So at 11:00am, I signed on and logged in. No audio with anyone. No messages with anyone. Just 12 eager people, ready to start a new road in life. Just me with my knowledge.

At 11:32am, the exam started. I was on my own.

And thus, we begin

Phase 1 was cake. Set up and basic configure 5 servers. This was easy as pie to me. Setting up 5 servers took me about almost 1 hour. Phase 2, the first half, took me about 30 minutes. The second half is where thing started to get direct. But I had remembered prior training, and exactly where the knowledge was. I reflected upon that and easily closed out Phase 2. I was cruising.
Phase 3 changed my perception. Phase 3 was for those people that remember syntax like it was drinking water from a spoon. I'm not that guy. Each section was like "Find this, do that, twist here, pull there. Now once you have that, make sure its the color we want it to me" but without telling you the color. Literally, each section had many instructions just to complete one task. But I followed them dutifully, double checked them, and made sure I got results. I just wasn't sure they were the results that were needed. No errors though, so I thought that was good.

I completed Phase 3 in just under 6 hours. Phase 4 took only like 3 minutes. By the time I finished that, it had taken me 6 hours to complete the entire certification exam lab. How was I able to do in 6 hours what it took others 15 or 18 hours to do? Obviously I had skipped a page or 3, did I miss a section or an entire phase? I didn't freak out, I just took a break. Food, television, family. It was just past 5:30pm and I had rolled through it all. If figured I could afford a moment to breathe. I'd go back over it all later on. Besides...I still had 18 more hours to go.

Where'd it go?

Check and double check. Mark off each section. Good. All done. Ok, so I didn't miss anything on the lab. 6 hours though? Really? Nah. I still ain't buying it. Wednesday morning, I went in early to go over it a 3rd time. Same results. By 7:30am, my coworkers that had taken the test on Monday had gotten their results. Both passed.

If my coworkers had received their results within 24 hours, I should to. So I watched and waited. After 36 hours, I could stand no more waiting and I messaged my instructor "WTF dude?". Not really that message, but a close proximation. His response.."Congrats, you passed. You'll get the email later on". I was happy, but I still want that stupid email, and my printed certificate. edit: I've received the email and my certificate

Celebrate good times

I passed. I was now a certified Splunk Architect. With this achievement, I contacted Education directly, and requested my Architect II certification as I had already completed all training and passed all required labs and exams. edit: I have received my Architect II certification

In 2 months and 3 weeks, I have completed and received my Splunk User, Power User, Admin, Architect I, and Architect II certifications. Now it's time to get to work.