“If we can do it, you can, too,” says John Deardurff, a man who started his certification journey on a dare from his brother, knowing he would need financial help. Here’s John’s story, in his own words:

Back in 1999, my brother Frank received an email from a friend about a Microsoft training event. At first, I was hesitant. I thought: They will try to sell us something. He said, “Come on, it is just a couple of hours, what is the worst that could happen?”

In fact, they did try to sell us something: a boot camp for an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) on Windows NT 4.0 certification.

Now, neither of us really had the money to spend on training classes. We went home that night and thought about it. They gave us a link to get loans. I said to my brother, “Let’s try to get a loan. If it goes through we take the class. If not, we study on our own. I’ll go first.” Well, my loan went through, and so did his.

A whole new world of computing

For six months, every Tuesday and Thursday, we went to class. And I thought I knew computers, but this was a whole new world of computing. My brother was my lab partner, and one night in class he looked at me and said, “The more I learn, the less I really know.” It was a challenge.

I earned my first MCSE that December. But I was hooked. I needed more. So I took out another loan and signed up for the Visual Basic 6 MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) classes.

“I never gave up.”

All I have to say is there is always that slow student in every class, and if you look around the room and can’t find them, it’s you. I was definitely in the deep end of the ocean. I passed one exam for my MCSD, but I would not finish it until two years later.

But I never gave up, and I definitely earned that certification. 

In my second week, I was hired by the training company as a network consultant. They paid for the rest of my MCSD classes.

Let me tell you, they threw me into the fire from day one. The first week I was building networks on my own. I was nervous and afraid. I thought I would break anything I touched. But I got through it and owned every job I was given.

“I was hooked.”

Well, a month went by and they needed someone to teach an Outlook class. The boss said, “Hey, can you teach Outlook? Your class is tomorrow.” I stepped in front of that class, and I was hooked. A month later, I was an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) teaching MCSE classes.

That training event changed the lives of both me and my brother. He now owns a successful web marketing company. As for me, I found my dream job as an MCT, working with a Microsoft Learning Partner.

Two brothers from a small town in southern Indiana are now successful technology professionals, all starting that one night when together we took a chance.

If we can do it, you can too. It only takes that first step.

Read Frank Deardurff's story on Born to Learn.