Why I’m Certified: Scott Campbell

Thomas Kohnstamm MSL

A few years ago, Scott Campbell was laid off from his job as a debt collector in Sacramento. As a former high school dropout with only a GED – he found himself faced with limited career prospects.

Scott fell back on his amateur experience with computers and eventually found his way into some short-term IT support roles. However, he was forced to move from contract to contract and was unable to break through the glass ceiling for those who do not hold a degree.

That’s when Scott decided to take control of his future. 

Last month, Scott sent an email titled “I owe you a huge thanks!” to the woman who unknowingly helped him to change his life. The email was signed, “Scott Campbell - Microsoft Support Engineer.”

In the email to Microsoft Product Marketing Manager Victoria Pohto, Scott reminded her that at the 2010 Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) event at the University of Houston “we had a friendly wager if I could walk in and pass a Microsoft cert test with no lead time/prep time.”

Scott had entered the University of Houston at the age of 27 and, by the time of the bet, was president of university’s AITP chapter. He had the idea for the initial wager “off the top of [his] head” but was only expecting a “Microsoft t-shirt or something” in return. Victoria upped stakes and offered a free invite to a Microsoft Learning virtual career conference if he were to pass the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exam.

In a recent telephone interview, Victoria admitted that Scott “seemed a little nervous about the test” but she remained confident in his abilities as he had a clear “passion for technology and had been able to accomplish a lot as the local AITP president.”

Scott accepted Victoria’s challenge and along with approximately 50% of the other 250 students who took the MTA test that day… he passed. 

According to Scott, Victoria’s subsequent invitation to the tech conference turned out to be “the best opportunity of [his] life” because it led to the chance to “join Microsoft… and hopefully start a lifelong career.” Scott is now working on his Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) SharePoint Administrator certification.

Regarding certification, Scott states, “Nobody should ever pass up an opportunity to document their knowledge. Certification can be a path to a career by itself or a path to a better career if you already have a degree.”

Victoria was more than pleased to hear about the result of her impromptu bet with Scott. She remarked, “I knew he had it in him. Actually, I had a feeling he’d be a slam dunk.”

As for his next steps, Scott says, “I’d like to pay it forward and help show others that even if you don’t have a typical career path or typical education, through hard work and certification you can still have a rewarding career in technology.”


  • Anonymous
    | |

    This was a GREAT story!  And the reason LV-PITA does what we can in Las Vegas to help all the "Scotts" out there!!!  So many individuals who havent had the opportunity for formal education are being helped by the IT Academy program!  We are proud to be a part of it, and offer MTA certification!!  Keep up the good work Scott!!!  You are an inspiration to many!!!!

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