5 Random Thoughts on the SQL Server MCM Program
I've had some random thoughts running through my head since I finished the MCM that I wanted to share, but I couldn't quite think up enough on any one of them to dedicate a topic to them. So here is a collection of some random thoughts on the MCM.
Random Thought #1: One reason I did well
One reason I did well in the MCM was due to prior training. I'm fortunate that my employer (MSFT) regularly brings in the trainers from SQLSkills.com to teach classes. These classes don't go into the same depth as the MCM, but it did cover a fair peice of the material from week 1 of the MCM and some of the following weeks as well, so I felt like I had a bit of a leg up. I try to take the SQLSkills classes when I can. I highly recommend to everyone that they take advantage of any training opportunities that they see from this group.
Random Thought #2: What annoyed me the most
Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) is what annoyed me the most .... and I mean that as a compliment. My whole life, I've always been one of the first to finish any test. In fact, when I took my first certification test (SQL 2000) many years ago, the testing facility said that I broke their record for fastest test. I'm not always first, and I'm fine with that. What annoys me though is when the same person keeps finishing before me.
In the first weekly test, I think I was 3rd to finish behind Brent and one other. In test 2, I was second to finish after Brent. As test #3 neared, I started to realize that I really wanted to finish before Brent. I would have been perfectly fine if I had finished next to last as long as Brent finished behind me. Alas, when I stood up and turned around, there sat Brent's empty seat. I was 2nd or 3rd to finish again. Then when we did the 6 hour lab, there was only 1 person that completed the lab with plenty of time to spare .... Brent. Another person finished up a few minutes before time ran out, and the rest of us worked right up until time expired. In fact, there was at least 1 thing I wanted to do that I didn't find the time for.
In short, I don't need to be the best every time, but I do take it as a challenge when the same person keeps beating me time and time again. Well done Brent!!
Random Thought #3: What surprised me the most
What surprised me the most about the MCM was how many people were paying their own way. My wife had a hard time understanding why I was doing it since I wouldn't automatically get a raise as a result, and I couldn't imagine being able to convince her that it would be worth the cost. I believe it was well worth the price -- easy for me to say since my employer paid for it. I definitely understand why they paid for it themselves. Two people said that their employers were willing to pay for it in return for signing long term contracts, but they both decided that they'd be better off paying for it themselves and being able to negotiate as a certified master. Both of them passed the MCM too, so they certainly look wise as well as smart.
Random Thought #4: Being local may not be an advantage
Going in to the MCM, I thought that I was very fortunate to be local. No flights, restaurant food, or hotels for me. I could go home every night, spend time with my wife, and sleep in my own bed. As the days turned into weeks, I quickly realized that there were distinct disadvantages to being local.
My commute was 45 minutes in the morning, an hour on the way home. Most of the candidates were staying 5 to 10 minutes away, so I had about 90 minutes less time to spend on studying and sleep. And when your sleepier than normal, driving becomes a real chore. My commute turned into what I liked the least about the program.
Every night when I got home, I tried to split my time between studying and spending some quality time with my wife and dogs. Frankly, I ended up not spending enough time on either one. My wife was very understanding and didn't give me any grief over studying. I know we both felt like we barely saw each other for those 3 weeks.
I also very wisely passed up on a couple of poker games at a friend's house during those 3 weeks.
Random Thought #5: My least favorite thing
The chairs we sat in were generic padded office chairs. There was something about them that made my backside hurt. I think the backs are too far forward because I would often find myself hanging on the edge of my seat by a small piece of my buttocks. This would start my backside hurting, and it would continue throughout the day. I shifted in my seat a lot, but I never seemed to find a comfortable position. I don't think I was alone in this feeling either. Our group found it hard to go more than 90 minutes without taking a break. I think the chairs were a major contributor to that.