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Seek Out IT Groups and Associations

Certification Exam Prep
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Check out study groups, professional societies or associations, and online equivalents.

Back in the day when I was studying for Novell or Microsoft certification exams on a regular basis, I found local user groups (local chapters of the NetWare User Group and Microsoft User Group organizations), networking associations, and so forth great ways to meet and greet other professionals grappling with the same kinds of career, study, and professional improvement issues that I myself was facing. A little later in my career, I observed again that information security organizations also did me some good (in this case, it was the local chapter of the Information Systems Security Association or ISSA) as I was gearing up to learn and write about those kinds of certs.

If you can find a local group that shares an interest in some general subject matter, you’ll often be able to hook up with other members who are interested in (and probably also studying for) the same certification exams that you’re chasing. A little structure can go a long way toward helping you get and stay on track for some particular exam or credential, and you’ll often end up learning more in a group situation especially if you have to lead your study group on a regular rotating basis.

In my own case, participation in these groups not only helped me to advance my certification agenda, it also helped me make valuable personal and professional contacts that continue to serve me well to this day. There’s no reason why this can’t also work for you if you simply look around and see what’s available to you.