My Road to Certification: Meet Sidney Andrews

Veronica Sopher - Microsoft


Name: Sidney Andrews
MC ID: 8958741
Location: Virginia, USA
Twitter: @sidney_andrews

 A couple of years ago, I was on top of the world.  I ran my own XAML consultancy and was doing very well using online marketplaces to sell my skills.  Wanting to spend more time with my son, who was two at the time, my wife and I agreed that a sane schedule would be better all around, so I found a job as a .NET consultant for a great company in my hometown. I felt like a rock star again.  My boss thought I did great work, and the company really valued me.  At 25, I knew a lot in the .NET world, but had not felt the need to prove it in the past.

Hearing about Microsoft Certifications for the first time, my company used them as a seal of quality to show customers that we really knew our stuff.  My boss suggested that I take an exam in a topic area where I knew I was absolutely solid.  I challenged myself to pass one exam every month until I felt I had done enough.

In February, I took the Silverlight MCTS exam and blew it out of the water.  I was so excited and I thought to myself, “This will be easy,” since I hadn’t studied for it at all.  Wow, was I wrong!  So I started studying for the Data Access MCTS exam.  I wasn’t sure if I would do well considering that I used mostly RESTful web services and only had a general understanding of Entity Framework. I ended up taking the exam twice and failing.  I was getting frustrated, but my boss reminded me that I was gaining a lot of knowledge from trying and that my studying was not a waste of time.  To boost my confidence, I took the WPF/Windows Forms MCTS exam and did very well.  Right after that I gave the Data Access exam another shot and passed in April.

I had a lot of small victories, but I truly wanted a terminal certification.  In May, I took the WCF MCTS exam and did very well on it.  This gave me enough confidence to pass the Windows Azure Pro exam at TechEd and to earn the MCPD: Windows Azure Developer certification. After I got home, I decided that I wasn’t done.  In July, after 2 attempts, I passed the Windows Pro exam and earned my MCPD: Windows Developer certification. In August, I passed the Web Pro exam to earn both the MCPD: Silverlight Developer and the MCPD: Web Developer certifications.

It was at this point that I felt like I needed to take a big step.  I spoke at a lot of community events and had a bit of post-secondary classroom experience, so I decided to pursue becoming a Microsoft Certified Trainer and get back to my education roots.  Working at a top-tier company allowed me to bring real-world experience to the table when teaching a Microsoft course.  With my combined certification record and classroom teaching history, in accordance with the program policies, I applied and was accepted as an MCT in September of 2012.  The following holiday season, I taught my first two Microsoft courses and became a charter member for MCSD: Web Applications.

Earning my Microsoft certifications and becoming an MCT has drastically altered the trajectory of my career.  Before, I was content to do my job. Now I teach, speak, architect and implement.  I went from being a .NET developer in my hometown to being recognized as someone who’s accomplished “big things.”  If none of these benefits resonate with you, the best benefit is that I have the longest e-mail signature at my company.  My next goal is to amplify my efforts to share with my community and begin to travel to distant user groups more often during the year.  I also would like to earn an MCSD: SharePoint Applications certification in 2013 since I’ve been spending a lot of time building SharePoint and LightSwitch apps.

Sidney’s Tips:

  • Set a certification goal
  • Start with what you know
  • Research the options and continue to learn
  • Don’t give up; remember, you are building knowledge, whether you pass the first time or not
  • Explore the MCT opportunity; it can change your career!