|"Boot camps are to teach beginners enough to 'keep from getting killed'. We teach 'officers' how to direct -- and win -- the network war.
You've been eyeing those simple letters - MCSE - CCNP - or some others -- enviously for a while now. You know colleagues who've used them to snag a salary increase, garner a little added respect, or to provide a roadmap for continued professional development. You're dying to grab some of that action for yourself, but you just don't have the time, patience, or stick-to-it nature necessary to self study for the next six months. If this describes you, a healthy dose of accelerated learning, commonly called a boot camp, may be just the thing to feed your craving for certification. What's In A Name?
The first thing you should know about this training option is that the common name - boot camp - though memorable - is somewhat controversial. Herb Martin, owner/operator of LearnQuick.Com's "Accelerated MCSE in a Week" program, puts it this way: "We do not have a boot camp. Our seminar is for professionals who want to learn the most possible -- if anything we consider it a 'graduate seminar'. Boot camps are to teach beginners enough to 'keep from getting killed'. We teach 'officers' how to direct -- and win -- the network war."
And then there are others who find the title "boot camp" so alluring that they try to claim it for their own, whether or not it applies to their program. This includes some evening only programs and even community college courses that extend for months. But as Susan Thayer Yates of ACREW puts it "There is only one type of boot camp, and that means fast, hard, mean and dirty training. It's painful. It's stressful. It's successful."
But whether you call them boot camps or accelerated learning programs, there's one thing these programs have in common: total immersion. Whether it's Cisco networking hardware, Microsoft operating systems and applications, computer telephony, or something else, attendees eat, sleep, and breathe their subject matter for days on end. Class start early and run late every day. Classmates often dine together, especially for lunch. It's a physical and mental mini-marathon with a single purpose: to learn as much as possible in as little time as possible. For many people it's the learning prescription that finally brings them their sought after credentials.
If these programs can be exhausting, they can also be stimulating. When else do you get a chance to totally bury yourself in the topic at hand without distraction? And to surround yourself with like-minded, success-oriented colleagues like yourself? And unless you're an extremely experienced veteran of the subject at hand, you will learn many new and interesting things you can bring back to your job and quickly put into practice.
Boot camps can be the perfect solution for people who have been putting off training for certification. They force you to concentrate, cover a lot of material, and are over relatively quickly. They are not for people with no technical background. To use accelerated learning as a path to certification, you must already have a foundation in the technology at hand and you must be motivated.
It shouldn't surprise you that the total amount of time you'll have to devote to a boot camp program goes beyond the actual time spent in class. You will also have to prepare. Most accelerated programs will give you materials to review in advance. Make sure you follow their instructions. You'll also want to get as much hands-on experience with the software and hardware in advance as you can. These are not show-up and you are guaranteed to pass the tests affairs. Your success is going to be directly related to the time and effort you expend.