Just like the majority of graduates straight out of university, I knew NOTHING. The keywords of Word and Excel we're still beaming bright on my CV within 'qualifications and skills' along with 'Chess and Keeping Fit' within the hobbies.
So, I decided to pick some technologies and become certified along the way. Getting certified is certainly a great way to invest in yourself. They also become your professional compass as well as earning a sense of entitlement within a competitive industry. Furthermore, it'd a leg-up that corporate ladder, which when you graduate, allows you to progress from an intern person to someone's associates associate.
But back then I was unaware of the potential. Employees often focus on your certifications and achievements not to understand what you've achieved, though to better understand your character and career path. It was beyond my vision that my certifications would also play a focal part to my H1B application. In hindsight, it's probably the reason why I'm writing this in my New York paying extortionate rent!
For me, ITIL and Microsoft exams were a good starting point. Databases were next as it became second nature as my job at the time was predominately focused around data analytics. I quickly became a MSSQL Server 2008 Database Developer a couple years after graduating.
After that, becoming certified in Network+ and Security+ were the next milestones though then became the big leap - CISSP and CISM. When I passed my CISSP exam, I remember leaving the exam center right next to wall street and I just started balling in tears; Probably due to the months of exhaustion along with the acknowledgement that dedication and perseverance finally paid off.
Personally speaking though, other than the CCIE/CCNP exams holding a higher calibre, I do believe CISSP is the most recognized and credited exam out there. The only issue with CISSP is the potential range of the exam. I started reading Shon Harris' 1000+ CISSP book though due to my inability to read at a good pace, a new version with 1400+ pages came out that now aligned with the exam syllabus! Imagine my reaction when it became available on Amazon for only $80...
Though there are some exams are now pretty much worthless to me. Along with being in MCTS, Network +, MCITP, Security + OCJA, ITIL, CISSP, CISM, I'm also certified as a 'Oracle certified specialist' in the certification, 'Oracle Identity Administration and Analytics 11g Essentials'... Does my employment care, absolutely not. Will any potential employment care? Probably not. Would Oracle themselves care? Now they are moving to 12, probably not. Would my own mother care if I asked her... (Think we all know that rhetorical answer)
Now the rant begins...
Now back to the main topic - OCPJP. I've decided that this will be my last certification. Not because it seems like the Oracle exam questions are often become convoluted and overly complicated, though exam questions in general often become obsolete and/or irrelevant.
When I was studying for my OCPJP 7 (1Z0-804) back in 2014, I spent hours wrapping my head around new concepts such as learning exam questions around Stringbuilders combined with regex patterns. Now though, this is no longer in the OCPJP 8 (1Z0-809) syllabus. I'm like everyone else though. If I wanted to understand regex with string expressions... I'll google it a bit to refresh my mind or to learn new areas. Cron expressions is another great example. In recent times, a director asked my how to perform a correlation between two cells in excel to compare two string. After trying to remember VLOOKUPS and failing, I said I can't remember though I'll google it (The easy function within excel is exact() by the way).
Going back to OCPJP 8 again, then I've spend hours upon hours wrapping my head around Lambda expressions and how they interact with functional interfaces along with parallelStreams. Though I've NEVER had to use them in a real-world situation (yet)! Though the WORSE OCPJP exam questions is to determine whether the code will compile or not. It's not something simple enough, it will be some steganographic syntax is a cheeky syntax error that some exam writer thought about way too much. My answer though would be, I DONT KNOW THOUGH LET ME ASK MY IDE AND LET IT NOTIFY ME. I'M NOT TRYING TO COMPILE THIS JAVA CODE IN NOTEPAD! (Sadly though, thats not one of the multiple answers)
Alternatives to exams is live in general; there's so much stuff I'd rather be doing such as create an army of robot cats from raspberry Pi 2 starter pack that's still in the box.
To conclude, certifications are essential to building your career though for me and there's no question the likes of Java still be around for a while. I'll become certified as an OCPJP 8 (one would hope before OCPJP 9 comes out), and focus on other maintaining my CISSP and CISM though change my direction to something else
I'm writing this on the 2nd February, 2017, 10 days before my scheduled exam - So wish me good luck!
About the authorDaniel is a Technical Manager with over 10 years of consulting expertise in the Identity and Access Management space.
Daniel has built from scratch this blog as well as technicalconfessions.com
Follow Daniel on twitter @nervouswiggles