By Dan Velasco
Today's tip is actually a story followed by some tips. The story is one of a quest for WebSphere certification. The certification that I was seeking was IBM Certified Associate Developer - WebSphere Studio, V5.0. It requires taking and passing test 285. The Associate Developer is the first of three designations that you can get, with the others being IBM Certified Solutions Developer and IBM Certified Enterprise Developer. The IBM Associate Developer designation for WebSphere Studio, though, only requires a single test, which makes it a great starting point for your WebSphere certification journey. It also only costs $75, as opposed to the other tests, which cost $150, so it is definitely a more affordable way to get your WebSphere certification feet wet.
Note: In the story I leave off the names of the testing centers I went to as well as the specific name of the testing provider. I also don't give any details about the actual certification test itself. I do this for legal reasons and also to be fair. If you're not interested in the story and would just like to know what resources will help you to pass test 285, feel free to skip to that section of the article.
This story takes place on a Saturday, and all started because I was thrown off of my usual certification routine. I usually take my certification tests in Roseville, CA, (near Sacramento) because then it gives me a chance to go to the retail outlet for Nerdbooks (at http://www.nerdbooks.com), my absolute favorite technical bookstore of all time. Plus, there are several movie theaters nearby that I can go to as a reward for taking a certification test. This time, however, I wanted to take the test as soon as I could. I had been studying for some time, had been using WebSphere Studio for well over a year, and was just plain ready.
I call on a Friday to take the test on Saturday. Unfortunately, the testing center I usually use isn't available. I schedule the test for Monday and then, after hanging up, realize that I'm not going to be able to wait that long. I know I'll just be thinking about it all weekend, so I call back and schedule the test for a center in Rancho Cordova, which is also not too far from my house in Orangevale.
I'm all set to take the test Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. I get out of my car right at 9:00 and wait for a few minutes with the other folks for the doors to open. I give the woman at the testing center my name, and she can't find it on the list. No problem, I figure, it must be because I registered last night. So she processes the other gentleman there first, whose name I find out is James. (Hey James K., if you're out there, let me know how the SCWCD exam turned out for you.) Now the woman turns to me and says that she'll have to download my test from the testing provider. It doesn't work the first time.