90 Days to MCSA Program: How come you’re not already doing this?

I hope your answer was “Josh, I haven’t heard of that program, but please tell me more.” . Well I would be glad to.

90 Days to MCSA is the brain child of the great people in the “Born to Learn” (Twitter | Page) group at Microsoft. They are challenging anyone who signs up for the program, to study their butts off from March 5 to June 3, which happens to be the first day of TechEd. Now I can hear you already, “Wait, what? You’re just telling me now?” . Yes folks, I’m sorry. I’m a few weeks late on this one. I just recently signed up for the mailing list myself. Now, don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t another mailing list for you to sign up for and get bombarded with junk emails that MIGHT have a weekly golden nugget. This is a great program and if you are looking to get your MCSA, I would highly recommend it. Here’s what you get for your value price of $19.95 absolutely nothing, aka $0, aka FREE!:

  • A section of content dedicated to the three exams for an MCSA in Windows Server 2012 and the three exams for an MCSA in SQL Server 2012. Within each of those content sections, you get:
  • Access to the discussion forums within each exam,  that are posted to by people just like you, and monitored by those in the community looking to help you prepare for your exam.
  • Resource wikis under each exam where you, and those same people I just mentioned, can find or upload information, links, or anything else to help you, and other people, prep for these exams.
  • Discounts on Exam Packs when you purchase with Second Shot.

Now if you’re interested in the Windows Server 2012 MCSA, there’s a company called TrainSignal (Twitter | Blog | Home) that is providing free access to their expert-led courses through June 3.  If you head over here, they have all the details, including a course listing, on their blog.

Wow, you guys are loud this time. “Hey Josh. I thought this was a SQL Server blog. Show us the good stuff!” . Ask and ye’ shall receive. I’m going to point you in the direction of one main resource, that has stood up to give another outlet for people to come together and help each other prepare for this challenge, and then some other resources that have helped me in my day to day work over the years, that I know will come in handy when trying to fill in the gaps of knowledge that you might still have.

The first resource was started by a good friend of mine, or at least I would like to think so, Gareth Swanepoel (Twitter | Blog). He has created a community on Google+ for those who are participating in the challenge to share resources with each other or ask questions of the group. You might be thinking this is redundant with the forums on the 90 Days to MCSA site, but I think it’s great. It is pushing me to use Google+ more often than the picture of my cat laying on her back, from last year, or my success against the #zergrush last April.

Now there are many other resources that you can use to get you started on the right path to SQL Server enlightenment. Here are some of my favorites.

  • On Pragmatic Works’ website, they have a great library of free webinars that they have presented over the years that are 45-60 minutes long on various subjects from BI to Database Administration to Sharepoint. If you are looking for a how-to, I would start looking there first.
  • Many years ago, Jorge Segarra (Twitter | Blog) started something called SQL University (Twitter | Blog). I have blogged about it in the past, and would like to say it has a profound effect on my career to get me to where I am today. If you are looking for some information on a DBA-type topic, and you can’t find it there, then you’re asking the wrong question. This is a compilation of blog posts by some of the best in SQL Server.
  • SQL Saturdays are a great source of live in your face information. The volunteers that help put on these great events in cities across the globe, bust their humps to put together a great lineup of speakers and sessions to help you whether you have been in the SQL Server field for 13 years, or 13 seconds.
  • Shannon Lowder (Twitter | Blog)  is a Database Architect consultant with a company called 52projects. He is a great resource within the SQL Server DBA community and he has compiled a wealth of knowledge in his blog. I have known Shannon for almost a year now, and still shocks me at how he teaches me something new every day. Go over to his site now and check it all out. You won’t be disappointed.

I know I have left some great resources out, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to name them all, and I’m hoping some of you will jump in the conversation in the comments section of this post and share some of the resources that have helped you get through some tough situations in your day-to-day, or have opened your eyes to a new subject.

Enjoy! If you have any questions about this post or anything else, shoot me an email or get in touch with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.