Jeff Nye who works for the MS Global Voice Practice and was a graduate of rotation 4 asked me about posting to a Linked In group that he belongs to which provides hints and tips on preparing for MCM. I liked what he had written and so Jeff expanded on the post a little and provided it for posting here. I like it's dark style as Jeff recounts his experience of the program :-) 

Adrian.

 

Looking at my calendar I realize another group of MCM candidates is about to embark on the road to certification.  I feel it incumbent upon those who came before (even if it was only just before), to impart our experience and set the stage for this newest group of candidates.  To this end I have chosen to give you a glimpse into what will surely be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of your professional career.

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I arrived 20 minutes early and found my seat, greeted the strangers and familiar faces and names around the room.  It was a fairly excited feeling as our event organizer Adrian took the opportunity to greet us, remind us to get those personal NDA’s to him.  Then Adrian explained what the agenda was for the next 3 weeks.  It was at that moment that a uneasy feeling began to grow… “are you sure you want to be here?”

Over the next few weeks we consumed outrageous amounts of candy, struggled with uncomfortable chairs, wracked our brains over technical details we had never before pondered.  The days blended into a feeling that we had never actually left this windowless room.  Each of the six classroom days consisted of roughly 10 hours of class time which was a mix between lecture and lab, followed by 2-4 hours of personal and group study.  

It was something like learning a foreign language, at some point you just start to dream it.  Dreams became review time for technical details, nightmares became protocols behaving in ways you knew they couldn’t. Suddenly we were laughing hysterically  about technical nuances that in retrospect were completely devoid of humor.

There was fun, there were times we would break to meet with PM’s working on the product who had become our source of self inflicted torment.  We had other fun activities to break things up, a go-cart race with the exchange MCM candidates which I am sad to say we lost.  Times we would go to dinner as a group and vent our frustrations, and attempt to regain some semblance of normality.

It came down to the last few days, the feeling of dread that I had felt on the first day had turned numb, I was unable to comprehend self doubt.  Worrying about the test was a waste of valuable study time.

The tests were difficult, they strained my brain power, patience, and to some degree my desire to continue in my current career path.  I managed to complete both and wait for my results with a feeling that pass or fail I was glad that was over. After it was all said and done we had one final party as a group to congratulate everyone on completing the course.  No one left, not all passed, everyone was better for having attended.

It has been several weeks since I was making the drive each morning to Masters, I have found myself in countless customer meetings, countless architecture design sessions.  Not once since  have I felt technically unsure of anything I was asked to speak about.  I am now able to attend the monthly calls with the my fellow “Microsoft Certified Masochists”, the content being shared now is amazing.  The group and support structure is phenomenal and the pain that was those three weeks of hard work all seems very worth it.

It turns out that Masters was exactly what I needed, it was difficult, time consuming, and at times exhausting.  Perhaps these things would intimidate some, they used to be the crutch I used to justify not getting this certification.  But in the final analysis I find that nothing worth having is easy, and what I got from this course is definitely worth having.