19 June 2020

What certifications and validations wont give you?

I wrote this to tell you, dont expect to be rewarded for the work you are doing. Do it for yourself.
After I finished my certifications and posted in the public domain, there has been a significant inflow of comments, lots of love, lots of inquiry about how I went about it, and what led me to take a technical certification.

As I shared my experiences with a blog post, the comments and appreciation inflow continued.

However, there was something that was bothering me.

Let me start with the conundrum.

Have I become an Architect, now that I got the Certification for AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Associate?

or, when one an executive management program completed from MIT be enough for a manufacturing company to hand the reins of their planning to this high achiever?

Or will getting a Scaled agile framework certified, means you can begin managing a portfolio of projects and build value?

How does such validation compare to something with higher stakes, like becoming a certified pilot?

Like me, you would also see a lot of people sharing their certifications on LinkedIn.

This makes me think-

Where is the balance between Acquiring knowledge, learning something, and its validation? Are optics more or equally important today?

To tackle this itch, I decided to write this post. 

First things first, getting something done is awesome.

It's one thing to critique something, or just abandon it, and it's completely different to commit to it, put in the hours of hours hard work, get something done, and then some.

There are unquestionable benefits of learning a skill, course, program, method, programming language, etc outside of your comfort zone. 

The Certifications or validations help with those.

  • Getting certified shows the intent of an individual, the effort they are putting in. how serious they are, and surely portrays a certain commitment to the world. [this is probably the #1 reason you see everyone posting their certificates on linkedin]
  • Getting certified puts you on the path to learning further and deeper. Most of the Certifications give you a path to tread, and that always is the most useful thing as far as I am concerned.
  • Getting certified exposes you to the possibilities, all the tools available in the subject matter. This normally includes literature, large community, online resources, and most importantly, a tribe of folks who are also trying to push their respective envelopes.
  • and getting certified exposes you to a wealth of knowledge - how to begin practicing a domain, skill, functional, technical, or a business process area.

However, these validations should not be seen as the end game by any means.

Unless you got validated after having a decade of experience in your space, here are some reasons why it will require continued investment of time and effort to really take it further.

Solving real problems

Getting a certification or taking course, will take you through grueling journies and you will learn a lot. Especially in the technical space, you may end up doing a lot of hands-on exercises. You even go through a lot of labs.

However, let's be real.

Even the best of efforts, You are never solving a real business problem in the lab/exercise.

You are simulating something and then using that to learn how a service(in case of AWS) works.

It's one thing to build primary key and sort keys for a dynamo DB table with 15 samples records, trying to calculate what type of RCUs and WCUs it requires for a read and write operation, and it's a completely different monster to figure out a working solution for a dataset written in DynamoDB with millions of records and designing their sort keys and index to optimize reads/writes.

When the rubber hits the road, years of knowledge practicing a skill will always have a higher value and then some.

Understanding the pain of figuring something out

Maps don't lead you to new places.

During the course of taking a class, or certification, you may have gone through a lot of code snippets, theory, case studies, etc. That is part of building a foundation.

However, that class will not be able to teach you the pain you will feel when you have to figure something out, to make it work.

The course material will give you sample data sets, sample scripts for the language you don't know or you have not written a piece of code to get you going.

and this is not limited to the technical journey alone.

Think about a leadership certification, it's one thing to discuss how to negotiate and get certified, but it's completely different when you deal with people in a real environment, their personalities, their egos, and their own clouts.

Experience gained from building with your hands, lessons learned from toiling on the ground, and standing something up will always teach you much more than a classroom session.

How many hours could go into debugging small issues, typos, missed;? How many hours could go to troubleshooting and making something work?  
These will teach some highly valuable lessons which will stay with you forever.

It will test your patience and grit. It will also teach you to be resourceful.

Knowing what works and what does not

My last point is about gaining true insights.

Every company or product you do your certifications for will always paint their services in the best light.

Every new shiny object is the best and fastest, cheapest, best integrating, zero downtime, and the list keeps going.

An Agile coach will not tell you what methods don't work in an agile environment, A sales rep from a Cloud provider will not tell you which of their service has major bugs, and so on.

As a learner and practitioner, You won't' see the other side of the coin until much longer in the process of practice.

Truly spending your blood and sweat will actually tell you what 'really' works, and what doesn't. What scales better and what is good but not the best choice.
And that's the experience which will make you more valuable to the market place.

As the famous dialogue from Amitabh Bachaan from one of his movies goes, you don't get paid to strike a hammer. You get paid to know where and when to strike the hammer.

So, that's my advice to all and also a reminder to myself.

Getting certified or started with something is excellent.

However, that is not the destination.

Its a good beginning(for most), and it will call for investing at least a few years' worths of hard work to drill down and get to really become knowledgeable in that space.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.

Knowledge and its validation are both complementary to each other. They don't compete with each other. 

Keep learning, practicing, experimenting, and pushing the envelope! 

Just don't expect to be rewarded immediately for achieving these validations, and rather focus on continuing to add value to yourself.



1 comment:

  1. Congrats to the ever learning and experimenting Saurabh. Thanks for this article. Its A very sincere view. Much appreciated.


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