Learning out of Desperation

Back in my post on the journey on getting an internship, there was a period of time when I was done applying for jobs. But time kept passing as I was waiting to hear back. There seemed to me nothing happening beyond that. I hated it. There was nothing I could do to get a response asking for an interview.

Out of frustration, I started to look at reasons why I wasn’t getting any interviews. There are so many possible reasons, but a huge factor is that most companies do not know what Informatics is, in the first place. Also, even those who do know about the major tend to prefer Computer Science students for stronger software development skills. I totally understand why recruiters might think that. However, there are numerous iSchool students who are well equipped with the software background to work as a full-time software developer. There is where I started to look for ways to show that on my resume. The answer I found to improve my chances was to take the Oracle Certified Associates(OCA) exam.

The OCA is an exam made by Oracle which is also the company in charge of Java. I say in charge because Sun Microsystems made Java, but then got acquired by Oracle. Because the exam is made by the creators of the language, it covers everything a software developer needs to know.

Honestly, I don’t believe certificates can help much or even at all. However, there are different aspects to this so hear me out. First, when your resume is screened and filtered, it’s usually HR people who collect them and sort them. Of course, resumes that match job descriptions are the best, but having the OCA listed on your resume can’t hurt you at all. There is the pure learning part about taking this exam. As I bought an exam practice book, I learned so much about Java. I was surprised that the materials covered in CSE 142 and CSE 143 doesn’t cover many important concepts which can be useful in the work environment.

I started studying for the exam in the beginning of January and took the exam today, which is almost the end of February. It took me about two full months. I tried to spend at least 3 hours a week minimum to keep up the pace and cover all the material front to back. The practice problems were really challenging. The problems on the book are actually harder in order to help you and to make the actual exam feel easier. On the final week before the exam, I started to write summary notes to user for final reviewing. The weekend before the exam, I spent about 8 hours each day reviewing my final notes. Unfortunately, the closest testing center is at North Seattle Community College. So. I had to take the bus up there in the middle of the day and take the exam.

A few minutes after the exam, I was sent an email from Oracle with my results. The entire process is web-based, so it’s a really quick process. I was a bit worried, but the numerous hours of studying payed off. I passed the test. I came back to campus and updated my resume with the new certificate on it. I am happy that I finished this exam. Next, I want to try to obtain the Oracle Certified Programmer (OCP), which is the same certificate but for more professional developers with some years of experience.

You can view my certificate here.

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