When I joined VMware last year, I immediately started hearing about Adam Sweetser. His contributions to the VMware Learning Zone (VLZ) have not just been voluminous but also of outstanding quality. Adam started working with the VLZ team two years ago creating VMware certification exam prep guides. The VCA-DBT exam prep has been the most viewed content for the past year. He also self-produced over 200 vSAN technical videos for customers and VMware internal tech support! Adam continues to create VMware technical content that adds huge value to the VLZ library, and we are now lucky enough to have him participating in exam development with the certification team as well. Congratulations to Adam for being our May Spotlight Subject Matter Expert!
What is your background? How did you come to work in IT?
Twelve years ago, I accidentally started a career in IT. For a summer internship, I worked in a help desk. After the summer, I went back to school to complete my last semester. When I graduated in December, they asked if I wanted to come back. I said sure, while I found a job more in line with my degree (Business Administration) and figured out my life. Long story short, I worked my way up from help desk to systems administrator to systems administrator lead to systems engineer. One day, VMware called and asked if I was interested in working on their vSAN team. I thought it would be interesting to see the other side of the coin and started working with VMware two and a half years ago.
During my entire career, I’ve been a generalist. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of different technologies. One of the common threads has been VMware. I was first handed a vSphere 3.5 disk back in 2008 and asked to install it. I next’d my way to success, because I had no idea what I was doing. Since then, I’ve supported, upgraded, and built 4.0, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.0 environments. As I learned more and progressed, I was able to branch into storage and networking. This is the first job that has been slightly more focused.
What do you think makes for a great testing or online learning experience?
I want the questions to be clear in a test. It makes me sad when I have to decipher the meaning of the question, to then determine the answer. I really like the Deploy exams, where it is hands on. I have to get into a lab and troubleshoot or configure an item. I feel that is a better testing method. It demonstrates the knowledge.
I like when training lays out exactly what is going to be covered; “This is the list of topics we’ll cover”. It is frustrating when there is a catchy title that hooks you, but the content isn’t there or it briefly mentions the topic. I understand that every blog or video doesn’t have to cover an entire area, but if I’m going to invest time into reading or viewing the content, I want it to deliver what was promised.
You have been involved in both exam and VLZ content development. What about each format is appealing to you as an Education Contributor?
I had my first opportunity to help write an exam earlier this year. It was the vSAN 2019 Specialist badge. It was way harder than I initially thought. The process really gave me an appreciation for the previous exams I’ve taken. It really forced me to think as a test taker. I really enjoyed creating challenging questions that were challenging because of the content, not because of the wording. I also enjoyed going back and revalidating my knowledge. Did I really understand that as well as I thought I did?
I love sharing knowledge. It is one thing to learn something, but the real value is sharing. When you see the dots connect in someone as they understand a topic, that moment is so magical. I love those moments.
Why did you become involved in the VMware Education Contributor program?
Before coming to VMware, I started researching everything I could find about vSAN. In my mind, when I walked in the door, I pictured vaults opening and documentation spilling out. Maybe there would be a few gold coins in the vault, and some people singing with some pretty lights. I was going to learn vSAN inside and out.
That wasn’t the reality. There was little documentation. Certainly no one singing or gold coins. All the training was word of mouth and tribal. I have a heavy background in testing technology and writing documentation about testing procedures. I was shocked about what was available.
I started creating video content. It was a way for me to learn how the product worked. Did I really understand it enough to share it with others? We had other new support engineers facing the same challenges. I wanted help them learn the product better than anyone else and ultimately deliver better support to our customers. I’ve created over two hundred videos now, which is a mix of internal and external content. Videos average around five minutes each. The videos gave me the opportunity to become a full time trainer and I couldn’t be happier.
What is the most desirable facet of the Education Contributor program?
Community and collaboration. I have had the chance to work with so many different people from all sorts of different groups. The education program has allowed us to work together to understand and produce better content than any of us could have delivered on our own.
How have you benefited from the program?
I’m struggling with the right wording to explain the monumental benefits. This is the first time I’ve officially stepped into a content creator and trainer role. I could have not gotten to where I am today without the community of people in the Education program. So many people took the time to pass on their knowledge and guidance. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone I have worked with that has helped me and mentored me.
I love pushing myself to grow. That usually means putting myself in uncomfortable situations. When I started down the path of becoming a trainer, I signed up for improv classes. I wanted to put myself in new and unexpected situations as much as possible. I wanted to give myself an opportunity to be in front of people as much as possible. I took two years of improv classes, which allowed me to perform five eighteen-minute shows and seven ninety-minute shows.
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