My boss at MightyWords, Hawke Robinson, was a pretty cool manager. Having risen to the level of CTO without a degree beyond an AA and learning everything he needed on his own, he understood that a college degree was not necessarily a reflection on an employee one way or the other. Essentially, he recognized that my computer skills were pretty damn sharp despite the fact that I graduated as a journalist.
Every quarter, he budgeted a large amount of money per engineer for training. You had to get his approval to use it, but that generally consisted of him making sure you weren’t getting your training at Big Bob’s House-o-Certs instead of a more reputable institution (Big Bob can barely save a Word document, you see). He had been encouraging me to get my Sun Certified Java Programmer’s exam, but I hemmed and hawed about it forever. He totally psyched me out about it, telling me how hard the test was and how impressive the cert and that passing it on the first try was like some kind of indication of super genius.
So, in November of last year, I finally got my act together. I asked him informally if he’d approve paying for the test as well as a CBT prep course. He emphatically agreed, but was rather busy with other things. A couple of days later, I learned that those other things were the termination of our little company. I was laid off from MightyWords on Dec. 12, but, thanks to Hawke, I got a voucher for the exam in my name on Dec. 3.
Flash forward to now. The voucher is only good for a year, and it’s been weighing on my mind heavily since I got it. When I lost my job, I was gung ho about getting the cert to improve my chances of getting employed. But then I saw how everyone was looking for senior Java developers, which, even with the cert, I was not. that combined with the previously mentioned psych-out kept me from pursuing it. But I knew it would be expiring soon and, well, what a waste of $150 if I didn’t give it a shot. So I spent a large part of my afternoon yesterday trying to get my voucher number and schedule a time. Turns out, I need to use the voucher within a year of purchasing it, but can take the test within a year of scheduling it. So, essentially, I could have bought myself an entire extra year. However, I decided to stop prolonging this thing and get it over with.
On Dec. 11, I’ll be taking the Sun Certified Java Programmer exam in San Francisco. So, for the next couple of weeks, all fiction reading is on hold while I study for this exam. I’m nervous as hell about it for some reason. I’m a decent test-taker, and the practice exams I have taken have shown to me that, as long as I slow down and read everything, I should do OK. The exam contains a ton of trick questions. It’s all multiple choice, but some of them are also multiple answer. It’s gonna be rough. But I need to get only 61 percent of the questions correct. I chose to take the 1.2 exam since that was what I knew best. The 1.4 exam, however, has two extra questions but requires only about a 52 percent to pass. Plus, it eliminates the AWT stuff, which can get weird and complicated quickly. So, essentially, I could have taken the 1.4 and been totally up to date if I had read more carefully. I mean, what more would I have to learn? Assertions? Whatever… that’s pretty easy stuff. Anyone with a small amount of C++ background should be able to handle that. But, if I pass the 1.2, I think it’ll be more impressive. At least to me. I mean, hey, I had to know the AWT!
Any advice on this thing is mucho appreciado. I’ve got a couple of practice exams and will be visiting the Java Ranch and other such places a lot. I’m pretty squared on books. I just now need to be de-psyched. One of my coworkers here took the exam and passed it on the first try without ever really learning how to program in Java. To this day, he can’t even code a simple applet. But he passed. If he can do it, I definitely can.