Well it’s been just over 2 weeks since I got back from Chicago where I was with CompTIA at their worldwide headquarters. As a long-time exam-taker, I’ve sat a lot of exams.
You see, when you choose a career in IT, the learning never stops. It’s not really comparable to any other profession (well, you’re probably always learning, but not to the point where if you stop learning you risk becoming redundant!) in this regard. I mean just look around you and you’ll see how far the world has come technologically. Technology advances so quickly that Apple feels they need to release a new iPhone every 6 months, and other companies are busy testing driverless cars in California. There are rumours everywhere of AI taking over the world, superseding mankind and taking our jobs, and this has got people talking – I’ll do another blog post on this topic soon with my thoughts. Cybersecurity is something that exists today that didn’t exist a few years ago. At the rate technology is advancing, of course problems will pop up. But at the same time so will huge opportunity – for example a career in cybersecurity is probably one of the best ways to go if you’re just starting out in IT. Almost everything we buy can be connected to the network, this means almost everything we buy can potentially be hacked. But I digress…
I started my career in IT with a CompTIA certification; namely their A+ certification. I’ve been working with computers and networking them together for as long as I can remember so when I took the A+, it was a way for me to prove that I knew what I was doing with a computer to the rest of the world. It also taught me a few things I didn’t know and really gave me the grounding I needed to start my career. Whenever somebody asks me how to get into IT, I always tell them they should start with A+. At one point, I was even teaching A+ to apprentices and entry-level IT pro’s.
So, when CompTIA invited me to come over to their HQ and help them with the new Cloud+ exam, I was honoured.
CompTIA is a really slick operation – their office in Downers Grove, Illinois is beautiful and their people are some of the brightest in the biz. Every day when we came in, there was a tasty breakfast waiting for us before we got stuck in along with coffee, tea and of course, Red Bull. We also had lunch provided to us and a couple of dinners! My fellow SMEs, people from all over the world, were incredibly smart and we all got along really well. It was clear right away that the selection process for SMEs is very good, the pool of talent was as diverse as it was extensive. I definitely wasn’t the smartest guy in the room…
I can’t say much about the actual exam creation process, other than it’s a very thorough. We don’t take anything with us other than our brains and our experience. Conditions are strict as you’d imagine in this kind of setting where you’re dealing with confidential information, but the whole thing is expertly handled by CompTIA’s exam team.
All I can say is: if you’re thinking of applying to become an SME, do it! If you are offered the chance, take it!
This has been one of the best experiences of my career so far. I like being able to give back to the community and in a way I feel like this is a good way to do that. If I get invited back, (I’ll probably have to limit my visits to once a year) I’ll grab the opportunity with both hands.
Thank you CompTIA!