You might have noticed the extreme radio silence on this blog. The reason: I was attending the Microsoft Certified Master training for SharePoint 2010. But now I am happy to announce that I passed all the requirements and exams and can call myself a Microsoft Certified Master
I can easily say that taking part in the program was the most intense period of my life since years.
How to become a certified master for SharePoint
Pass all the prerequisite exams: 70-667, 70-573, 70-668 and 70-576. This basically means that you need to have the MCITP and MCPD credentials for SharePoint.
If you have those in your certification bag you apply to the master program by paying a (non-refundable) fee of US$ 125. They will check your MCP transcript if you have the required certifications and will invite you to upload 3 documents:
- Your CV. Be honest in that one, it’s not to sell you as a consultant, it’s to show them your experience
- A sanitized document you wrote for a project. This means that all references to customer names, person names, financial information etc should be removed. Realize this document should not be describing a single server setup. It should be a describing a tiny bit more complex environment
- A document describing your role in that project.
They will evaluate those documents and based on that they will decide if you’re material for the next step. If you are, they will schedule an interview with you.
Don’t take this interview too lightly. It’s impossible to prepare yourself completely for it however, I strongly advice you to read as much as possible from the pre-reading list:
While this list seem daunting at first (and probably also at second ), and while it’s not the most sexy material to read, read it. Period.
Also realize this: you think you know SharePoint. That’s why you applied for the Master Certification after all. Well, believe me, you don’t know SharePoint. That will become quite clear in the interview I can almost promise you. The questions they (yes, there are very likely several people on the other side of the phone call, all certified masters) fire at you will make wonder many times if you know anything about SharePoint at all. That’s at least what I felt after the one hour talk… I stopped counting the number of times I said: “eeuh… I really don’t know”.
But, good, you passed the interview, so it’s up to the next step: you pay the program fee (18500 USD the last time I checked) and you pick a rotation to go for.
I went for the hybrid rotation. That means, 1 week training on-site in Redmond, and 10 weeks remote delivery.
First: the week in Redmond is *very* intense. Most days you start at 07.00, and most days you end at around 00.00 or sometimes even later. During the day you will get lectures and group assignments, and after the lectures have ended (around 18.00 or 19.00) you will have to focus on a lab assignment that has to be finished by Saturday. You all get your own blade server to use (72Gb internal memory) that will be available throughout the complete rotation (so also during the remote delivery) on which you will run about 20 to 25 virtual machines.
The level of the lectures hover somewhere around 500 if you’re familiar with that model. And they’re not only about SharePoint. SQL Server gets its fair share of attention too.
A thing that struck me from the first minute is the companionship between the students. Everyone is helping everyone. I’ve been building up an amazing new group of friends since I started with the program, all extremely knowledgeable.
Then after that week the remote delivery starts: 2 times a week a lecture that you have to attend (miss 4 lectures and you’re out and will have to redo the training from the beginning…). Each lecture is about 4 to 4.5 hours long. Then there is homework… I’ve been spending on average like 20 hours a week doing homework. Combining that with work, life, family, friends is a challenge to say the least. Realize that it will be difficult for you, but it will be as difficult for your family (no, you can’t attend this or that as you have to study, no I can’t spend time with them watching a movie, I have to study) and friends (no, I have no time for a beer, I need to study). It will completely take over your social life for a few months.
But good, you went through the lectures, you did your home work. Then it’s exam time.
First you go up for the knowledge exam. A 4 hour time block in which you have to answer 100 multiple choice questions. But realize that these questions are of quite a different level than the ‘normal’ MCTS / MCPD / MCITP exams. Every answer you can pick from seems like a valid answer…
Passed that? What a relieve already Now it’s time to plan your Qualification Lab exam. Or Quallab/QL as it’s called.
The quallab is an 8 hour 45 minute war session, in which you are asked to solve issues, configure environments, code and deploy solutions, according to a list of requirements and specifications. It was both the longest and shortest 9 hour session I’ve done. As one fellow student described it: it’s like 10 days of work crammed into 9 hours…
My quallab started at 17 o’clock in the afternoon, and at 02.15 in the night I logged out. Exhausted. Completely. I was almost on the brink of crying… it was so intense. I went home, straight to bed, but couldn’t sleep, still processing the questions, and wondering if I did things the right way. Then the wait for the results starts…
Last night I received the email from Microsoft. I passed all the requirements and can call myself now a Microsoft Certified Master in SharePoint.
Was it worth it? Without a single doubt: YES
. The amount of knowledge I gained is incredible, the network I’ve been building up the last couple of months is extremely valuable, the new friends I have: priceless.