8 people attended the February 10th .NET Lunch meeting.
We started by asking who among us held a certification in anything, so we could learn what track they took to get there:
– Gary has a Cisco cert. He attended tech school for classes for 4 or 5 semesters, then took the test.
– Josh went to MATC for a 2 year networking degree and could have taken a Cisco certification test when he finished, but was hired and deemed it unncecessary.
– Jim had an MS certification, which he obtained by studying the “cram books” by Microsoft Press and then taking the test at Prometric. The books are available at Safari On-Line (I checked my limited version of Safari On-Line that’s available to members of IEEE, but the full pantheon of self-study guides weren’t available there. IEEE members do get 20% off the full Safari however).
Next we looked at what certifications are specifically available for Microsoft-centric developers. The main site for this information is here. There are a ton of things you can be certified in (Exchange, Windows Server, etc.), developers would specifically be interested in [descriptions are from their site]:
MCTS: The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications
provide the foundation for Microsoft Certification. These
certifications are designed to validate your skills on the features and
functionality of key technologies. You can show your depth of knowledge
in one specific technology, earn multiple MCTS certifications to show
breadth across different products, or build on the MCTS to earn a
Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) credential.
MCPD: The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential
validates a comprehensive set of skills that are necessary to deploy,
build, optimize, and operate applications successfully by using
Microsoft Visual Studio and the Microsoft .NET Framework. This
credential is designed to provide hiring managers with a strong
indicator of your potential job success. It requires two to three years
of relevant experience and a commitment to remaining current in best
practices and technologies.
These two aren’t exclusive. MCTS certifications are for a specific technology (eg .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Communication Foundation Applications or MCTS: SQL Server 2008, Database Development and dozens more). MCPD are broader in scope and have one or more MCTS certificates as prerequisites. As of now there are 6 MCPD certificates available; The new ones for VS 2010 haven’t been announced yet.
Now that we understood what’s available, we had a little fun answering a few question from the Are You Certifiable? website. These question led to philosophical discussion of whether these test can actually discern whether the test taker understands the materials or just has good memory for small details. In these days of Intellisense, is it really necessary to know every nuance of a declaration?
That led to a conversation about whether getting certified was worth it. In discussions with recruiters, some have mentioned that their clients require certification, perhaps as a shortcut to the process of discovering if they really know anything. Other employers have told me that they can’t assume anything about these sorts of credentials, as the lack of a certification may only mean the applicant has had their head down working on practical problems and didn’t have the time or money to take the tests. On the other hand, nobody though holding a certification could be held against the applicant either.
Dmitri brought in a problem for us to take a look at: his Winform project wasn’t pulling data for some reason. When he fired it up for us to look at however, it worked! We reviewed the moving parts of a Winform app that pulls data (Config.app, data adapters, datasets, etc.).
Lastly we rolled a virtual die and gave away our 2 books and 2 XBox 360 games (Thanks, MS User Group Support Services!). Congrats to Andy, Josh, Terry, and Roger for winning those items.
I thought it was a great meeting and was relieved we had so many attend, given that so many others couldn’t make it. We’d love to see you next month (March 10th, 11:45am). We should have more giveaways!