Name: Jean-Paul van Ravensberg
MC ID: 9784598
Location: the Netherlands
Twitter: @JPvR_NL

I began my Microsoft certification journey recently to demonstrate my abilities to the IT industry. I came in contact with a Microsoft Trainer at school who told me about the benefits of certification. It inspired me greatly to get certified before starting my career after finishing school. I didn't felt I had reached the level I needed during school, and it felt like I can do a lot more. I set a couple of certification goals this year:

  • MCITP/MCSA Windows 7 (done)
  • MCSA Windows Server 2012 (done)
  • ITIL v3 Foundation (done)
  • LPIC-1 (Linux) in 2013 (in progress)
  • CCNA (in progress, studying at school)

Step by step, I studied every day for a couple of hours. Next, I had to choose between the 70-410/411/412 exams or the upgrade exam, 70-417. I knew I had little knowledge of Windows Server, but was driven to achieve it. During 90 Days to MCSA, I started studying the book, "Exam Ref 70-417: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012."  Having read this, I realized I hadn't learned as much as I could because I lacked experience with Server 2008 or Server 2012; and, of course, they expect knowledge about it in the book.

So, I continued with the TrainSignal videos. It has helped so much to access all the 410/411 and 412 training videos online. Learning from videos, I found, works best for me. I've watched all the videos and imitated the scenarios in my lab. It makes you feel confident working in the Windows Server environment. My lab consists of:

  • 2 Domain Controllers
  • 1 Member server
  • 1 Fallback server
  • 2 Workstations (Windows 8 and Windows 7)

Besides school, I have been self-employed from the age of 17. I build websites for individuals and businesses and manage a number of SMB (Small and Medium businesses) networks.

I am hoping to complete my exam goals before the 60Days2MCSE starts! In the future I hope to work for a great company as a network administrator, with a large number of servers in my control.

 My three tips:

  • Keep studying every day. It's better to study every day, even for half an hour.
  • Study with a lab environment. In Windows 8, you have Hyper-V built-in. I used it for all of my exams and it helps me understand the objectives for the exam. Working within a lab helps you feel much more confident during the exam. 
  • Know all the possible ways to get to your target. I've done the 680 + 686 training for the 70-417 exam. That makes me certified in MCITP/MCSA W7 and MCSA Server 2012. That's two titles achieved with just three exams. 
Good luck!