I did it. I finally have the CompTIA trinity: A+, Network+ and Security+. It took me about a year, but definitely could have taken a lot less time if the holidays, traveling to Thailand and Hurricane Harvey had not have happened. The important part is that it is now finished and I can move on to other more advanced certs. However, I’d like to take a moment and express not only how I feel about this accomplishment but why I feel that way and what it has done for me.
In the summer of ’15, I took the Linux+ and failed it twice. It’s even hard to type it out, that’s how ashamed I am of it. I studied for months for the first attempt and missed the passing score by 4 points and the second time I missed the passing score by 2 points. At this time in my budding career, I was at a pivotal moment. I had only been “in the industry” for about two years. I’d struggled with my experience in the industry and constantly doubted myself and my ability. I felt like an imposter, and in a way I was. Failing those two exams solidified my insecurities and for a while, I thought the tech industry just wasn’t for me.
Fast forward two years later. I’m still working in the tech industry. I had briefly entertained a career in Psychology. I found it wasn’t for me. I decided to stick to the career I was in and see if I could find my place here. Since I never finished my bachelors in Computer Science and I realized I may need it, I decided to go back to school. I picked WGU, and if you’re familiar, most of the majors include CUs obtained from certification completion.
Was I intimidated? Absolutely. Did I want to prove to myself once and for all that I could do this? That I did belong? Absolutely.
So, I enrolled and started in on my A+. I passed both exams the first time. Of course, my insecurities loudly shouted, “OH WHATEVER! EVERYONE KNOWS THE A+ IS THE NOOBIEST CERT YOU COULD EVER GET. It doesn’t mean you can do this.“
So, I took forever to study for and take my Sec+ exam. The Security+ exam was important for me to pass because if I was going to break into the Cyber Sec branch of my field, I had to prove to myself I could understand the basics at the very least. I passed that cert.
Lastly, the Net+. I was terrified to take this exam. I had little to no real networking experience. Networking seemed boring. And subnetting chapters seemed like another math course, and I don’t do so well with that. I studied. I worried. I had my partner go over subnetting with me on numerous occasions (lessons involved scribbling tips and tricks across his Surface and me staring back at him with a confused expression). I fell ill a day before the exam and STILL studied through it. I walked into that testing center fully expecting to fail.
I passed it with the highest score of all three exams. I stared at the screen for far too long, open-mouthed. I shed a tear.
VALIDATION! Welcome home.
Though obtaining all three certs hasn’t done much for my actual job prospects, I would say that it has given me an understanding of very important subjects that I lacked. I’m better at my job because of the Network+ and the A+. I’m more excited about Cyber Security because of the Security+. I feel less like an imposter and more like someone who is learning and growing and blossoming into an awesome cyber security professional. I feel more confident when I speak. I connect dots a lot quicker. It’s really enabled me in a lot of little ways, some that reveal themselves to me every week.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth it, it definitely is. It may not be as respected as some of the more advanced certs (or certs may not be respected at all), but it still has changed my mindset, my life and given me confidence. Plus, I got two stackable certs in addition to the three I already have! I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Let me know your questions below!