Azure Coding Architect

Tinkering in the cloud...

Just do it! Work on your certifications.

2022-08-28 5 min read General Bas Van De Sande

If you asked me 5 years ago if I would do any Microsoft exam, I would have told you that getting certified is something that you need to do at the start of your career. Besides that I would have told you that once your work experience and technical influence increases, you can rely on your seniority. I have to admit that for a long time I could get away with using the correct buzzwords at the correct moment supported by a certain arrogance.

Until that moment that I was confronted with my own bluff. The moment that I realized that my technical knowledge was sub par and that I was about to become obsolete (at least it felt like that). At that time I was nearing age 50, realizing that I still had a large number of years to go.


Fortunately for me, I was exposed by some of the brightest minds in the industry during a job interview. One of them gave me the invaluable advice: “If you study for 30 minutes per day, you would be amazed of what you will achieve in six months time”.

This advice was the kick in the b*tt that I needed to develop a new mindset. Developing a new mindset is not easy. First of all you have to let go of your ego, by admitting that you have been slacking for too long. To acknowledge that one of THE most important assets of an IT professional is knowledge. As with most assets, maintenance is required to keep it in good shape.

With knowledge, the maintaince you can do is to work actively on your knowledge. In my case this meant that I had to go back to the roots. To become good at your job and to become an authority (thought leader, source of knowdledge) you have to master the basic concepts and principles first. Once you mastered those, then you can expand your horizons and start mastering more advanced topics.

When you start on such a journey, you might feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you do?

First of all, ask yourself the question:

“What is the technology stack you want to work with?”

Once you have found your answer - in my case this was Microsoft Azure and related developer technologies - you should take a look at what learning materials are available. A good starting point is to look which certifications are available. Once you know what certifications exist and you find the ones that you want to obtain. Then you can zoom in on the specific certifications. In the case of Azure and other technologies, Microsoft does a great job in providing learning materials for free.

Learning materials that will start at the base towards the goal you want to achieve. Go check them out at ms-learn.


If you are not a reading person, but more a video person, then check out video courses at sites like Udemy or PluralSight. These type of sites offer video training options at a fairly low price.

Once you found your learning path, you need to ask yourself the following question:

“What is the first date, I’m able to do the exam?”

Then book the exam rightaway! This might sound cheesy, but nothing beats a fixed deadline to start working. From that moment reserve an amount of time spread over a couple of days per week to start preparing yourself for the exam. Time that you normally would waste on internetting, online shopping, watching reels or anything else. All you need to do it block some timeslots per week, then start learning and experimenting. It took me some time to get used to it, but after a while it became a pleasant habit “Experimenting with, and learning new technologies”.

Don’t forget, the worst thing that can overcome to you is that you will fail the exam. It is not the end of the world! In the case you failed, study the outcome of the exam to find out on what areas you need some additional training.

Pro tip: If you feel you are short on time, a way to speed up the learning process is to book an exam for the next day, do the exam without any preperation. Based on the outcome, focus on the areas where you failed on.

Microsoft exams used to be notorious for having to memorize all nitty-gritty details. This is fortunately not the case anymore, it looks like Microsoft learned from the past. These days, exams focus more on solving problems. For some problems you need the pesky details, but for the most you can rely on technological and conceptual knowledge.

Getting certified is important, even for Microsoft MVP’s. At the end of the day, in order to get the job, promotion or assignment you want, you need to be able to show that you have the knowledge, skills or learning ability. Certification is the way to measure those; the advantage is that industry certifications are aknowledged worldwide. This might give you the competitive edge.

I learned my lesson in time, working actively on my knowledge rewarded me with the job I wanted to have at one of the coolest companies out there. It also changed my mindset, habits and attitude. No more arrogance, seniority and buzzword bluffing.

Each day I’m learning new things and that made me realize that “The more I know, the more I realize that I only know a fraction of all technologies out there”.

Stop procastinating, start learning, get certified!