Friday, April 28, 2006

Skills, Skills, Skills

The Downside of Certification

Newsflash, employers are more interested in employee skills as opposed to certification acronyms. 

I have worked with a few MCSE employees during my 5 years in the industry.

One MCSE was hired over me with the intention of getting rid of me after I had trained him.  However, he didn't have enough hands on experience to know how to use UNC to quickly access another computer.  He also used Loftcrack to see what passwords were weak as one of his first system administrative duties.  This normally would show that the person was on the ball, but since he didn't use the information to strengthen passwords, I had my first funny taste in my mouth due to an unscrupulous administrator.  Another thing he taught me was how with admin rights you could read everybody's email without them knowing it.  These were all rights that I had but never even considered using.  He also taught me how much software was available on the Internet with serial numbers.  I understood that there was warez but again I never thought a business would want this shady binaries running around the network.  I did learn that most warez binaries were not virus infested, but that was only because we may have just been lucky.

After swallowing my pride I asked him how I could get my MCSE, I was told by my replacement that a bootcamp was the best way.

"After a week of cramming, you learn lots of the ins and outs of the test and the instuctor showed us where to go to get likely answers for the test"

This taught me that MCSE was only good as an indication on how well someone did on the test.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There are places on the Internet called something like screendump or memorydump, where people can rush after the test to write down all the questions they can remember and other people work out the answers online.

One of the best things I learned from this MCSE was that you don't have to be fearless to uproot and upgrade your entire infrastructure in a weekend as long as you were willing to work all weekend :)  Actually this changed the way I saw changing the servers.  The MCSE hired person was not afraid to read an article and upgrade from NT 4.0 to Windows 2000 server and active directory.  I was always trying to keep the network the same with very little change.  Now I understand that your network can have as much trouble from not updating and tweaking as from making changes and mistakes.

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