Category Archives: certification

Good Practice

So if you’re like me and you don’t get to dabble in BI every day, how do  you get anywhere?  I’m trying to move into development again, but there are only so many hours in the day and it’s not all work and study.

In the past, I would begin to dabble in new tech as it came along, dig into it enough to get totally sucked in, and then realize that  yes, I do have a family and I like them.  By the time I made my way back to it, something else would come along.

So how do you focus on your goal of world domination getting to the place that you want to be?  I’m honestly asking people to see what works for them and see who wants to share.

I’ve been just scheduling better.  I think that was the key for me, and something so obvious I don’t understand why I focus on that before.  I bought a little calendar that I carry around that has the week spread across two pages and I focus on when I will do what.  I included time to work on prototypes for BI projects, watching Netflix with my kids, having alone time with the Wifey, and realized that I have a lot of stuff that I do on a regular basis that gets in the way.

So Tuesday night and Thursday AM are when I teach TKD.  So I try to study for my certification exams Tues AM and Thursday night.  I also want to build a prototype uploader for our system at work solely using SSIS and existing stored procs so there is little difference in how something gets into the system.  (Yes, I know there are faster ways of staging it, but I’m just getting things started.)

I think the key is to look at everything you want to accomplish, prioritize it all, and then find the time.  The important part of this whole equation is sticking to the assigned times when you do lay them out and feeling good when you look at all you have accomplished.


So why get certified?   Get a new job, enhance my skillset, make me feel productive?

All of that.  I’ve been inspired by SQLFamily, ‘listening’ to what they do and experience on Twitter with all of the events and new technologies that they are into, and it’s made me want more.   Made me think that in order to be marketable, I have to have the skills, especially ones that are up to date.  I’ve had a few interviews, but the issue is that my skillset, specifically BI, is a bit stale.

So, I’m setting the date for my exam at March 1, 2016.  I know that seems like a long time, but with everything I have going on at work and the amount of overtime I’ll be doing, I’d like to stay sane…and married 🙂

First steps:

  • Talk to smart people.  CHECK!  I pinged the SQLFamily and got advice on getting started.  Most of which was websites I am going to put on another page as I go along.
  • Get the training kit, specifically in this case, the one that goes along with the exam I’m taking 70-463.
  • Look at how others approached it.  I was tweeting with Cathrine yesterday and she sent me the link to her page – which was helpful.
  • Start reading, and start practicing.
  • Stop watching NCIS 24-7.  (What a great show)
  • Remember why you’re doing it.

Okay, so I’m going to go do some reading while I save a few pennies to buy the training kit.

Lets start at the beginning – Exam 70-461

In order to do anything well, the foundations must be sound.  I teach a martial arts class and the first thing we teach is not kicking or punching, but how to stand.  How do you not only present a target, but what do you launch your attach from?  A shoddy front stance will ALWAYS make your forms look like garbage.

I thought the start of my journey would be to jump right back into things from where I was before I went into management.  One of the things I’ve noticed is that bad back end coding leads to crap visualizations or at least make you jump through hoop upon hoop to get it to the way you want it, and then once  you get that change in, you stand back slowly from it and hope it doesn’t explode.

I can write SQL.  I can write stored procs and triggers when I have to.  I’m good, but I’m not solid.  So after talking with a few smart people, I’ve decided to put some effort into studying and preparing for the SQL 461 exam.  I’d like to eventually move to the BI exam, but that’s too much to bite off right now and that kind of move usually spirals me back into World of Warcraft marathons.

I’m going to look for practice tests and other things online, but are there any things that you wish you’d done before hand or during your studying or right before the exam that I can take into this?

To certify, or not to certify, that is my question

Welcome to the beginning of my journey.  I’m going to be blogging about how a manager can successfully get back into development without selling his house and doing consulting on a street corner 🙂

To that end, I’m working on my Epic Plan for Success, which has many parts.  The SQL part is what i’m focusing on right now, and I’m trying to figure out where to start.  I’ve been right here many times in the past, and am coming to realize that I always try to run before I know which way I should be going to help me get to my goal.

Goal – to be a SQL architect, travelling around speaking at seminars and helping people to make their systems not only run faster, but smarter.

I have a long road to get there, but I want to start simple.  I have a small SSIS project I’m working on to scrape off the dust in my brain on stuff I have done in the past, but I was thinking that going the certification route would be good – well rounded, regimented, and marketable.

I have done SSIS and SSRS for about 5-10 years, not much in the last 2 since I was promoted to manager.  I scratched the surface of SSAS and really enjoyed working with cubes and Dundas dashboards, but I think that’s too much of a leap.  I’m pretty good about RTM and Googling things myself, but I’m looking for some advice on direction for the certification part, if that’s even a good idea.

Should I start with a general MTA certification or just right to the MCSE for SQL 2012 instead?  i’m thinking the latter, but I honestly don’t know.

Any advice would be appreciated.