“It’s a bucket list item to me,” says IT consultant Matt Kozloski about earning a college degree, an accomplishment that’s been 23 years in the making.
Matt is back to hitting the books at Charter Oak State College. It turns out many people in the IT industry never finished college, instead opting to enter the workforce to learn on the job. However, Matt and IT professionals all over the world realize the benefits of continuous learning in this ever-changing industry. Matt earned his VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) certification four years ago. He’s been reaping the benefits ever since, in the form of college credit, career advancement and overall personal satisfaction.
The VCDX journey
Before he decided to enroll at Charter Oak, Matt earned his VCDX certification, the highest distinction VMware Learning offers. A VCDX certification requires candidates to demonstrate their command of managing, building and designing VMware solutions and systems. There’s a lot of work that goes into earning a VCDX, including a series of exams and defending a proposal in front of a live panel of experts. It took Matt a total of two years to complete the exams and two attempts to defend his final project, which is a typical timeline. In fact, 2.3 times is the average number of proposal-defense attempts.
Earning a certificate is a long journey sometimes studded with roadblocks, but one that’s well worth the wait and hard work. A whitepaper by the IT Certification Counsel shows IT certificate holders often see higher salaries, increased self-confidence and career stability. Matt agrees. Being a VCDX lets him do his job better. His employer is a Master Services Competency partner with VMware, and Matt’s VCDX certification enables the company “to do more, get better discounts, get better everything with VMware and Dell technologies. That anchors me at [the company] also, so it sets up a great relationship between me and the company.”
Trading IT certifications for college credit
Thanks to his VCDX certification, Matt is closer to graduating (and a few thousand dollars richer) than if he hadn’t stuck with the challenging process. Transforming his VCDX into college credit was the easy part. Matt submitted a prior learning assessment (PLA) to Charter Oak. The college reviewed his VMware transcript, reviewed the VCDX learning process, discussed and, in the end, awarded Matt 21 credits for his certification. That amounts to seven three-credit courses!
Matt isn’t too concerned about how close or far away he is from finally earning his bachelor’s in management information systems. “I’m either two-thirds or three-fourths done.” When asked if he knows when he’ll graduate, Matt says, “My advisor probably does. I’m just more fixated on not burning myself out again.”
The importance of continuous learning
“Just because someone didn’t finish their degree early in life, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t,” Matt says. “You never know what’s going to happen with your role, where you are in life and your life position. If you’re in a place where you can finish school, why not? Especially if there are programs that exist where you can transfer your credit or give you credit for professional designation certification training, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that and finish it up?”
Matt recommends that his peers pursue a VCDX or another advanced IT certification. “Maybe people never actually get there, but it’s an aspirational piece to get to. All of the exams and things along the way are valuable, both professionally to an individual but are valuable to organizations too… You could file a PLA for VCAP or VCP, and maybe it’s not 21 credits, but maybe it’s three credits and that’s a couple thousand dollars you don’t have to pay in tuition at the very least.
“[The VCDX] gave a huge boost. A huge, huge boost along the way.”
If you’re interested in pursuing a VCDX certification, explore the possibilities and the doors it can open at the Official VCDX Directory.