Pi Day is here, folks — a day for mathematicians, scientists, and math lovers everywhere to celebrate the mathematical constant, π. But even for those who lack the excitement for irrational numbers, the day serves up far more ways to celebrate than just sitting on the sidelines of a pi recitation contest.
Actual sampling of a pi recitation contest: “Three-point-one-four-one-five-nine-two-six-five-three-five… eight-nine-seven… nine-three-two-three-eight-four-six…”
The very meaning of Pi Day has transformed via homophone. With endless avenues of interpretation, few can compete with such a good reason to indulge in a slice of delicious, warm, freshly baked pie… or pizza. Or pineapple. Or… you get the gist. No matter how you choose to celebrate, it’s worthwhile to contemplate what Pi Day means for you.
We know pi is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter. But what if we liken this to how certifications impact your career? Let’s say that the diameter, the distance from one edge of a circle to the other, represents your certification journey. The path towards earning a Cisco certification can be quite linear, with clear guidelines to benchmark your journey. Once you download the exam topics for a certification exam, your next step is to study, study, study. Whether you choose self-paced, individual e-learning or a more structured approach with a Guided Study Group, you know what comes next. Pass the exam, certify, stand out among a sea of candidates for that enviable job role, and ride off victoriously into the sunset. Well, not so fast.
The road to certification
Sure, you can train and learn what’s required to pass that certification exam, (except for expert-level scenario-based exams conducted in a lab environment), but that’s just the start. Ask any experienced engineer, and they’ll assure you that there’s far more to your learning journey that awaits once you can apply your certified knowledge in the real world. It’s for this reason that hiring managers factor a job candidate’s experience into their decision. Like the diameter of a circle, traveling exclusively along a direct, straight path towards certification can limit your potential. You could say that to be well rounded, it takes more than the piece of paper, the badge, and the hashtag that represents your certification. That brings us to the ‘circumference’ of your certification path.
If we look at the circumference symbolically, we can use this to visually represent the broader picture of your career journey. The circumference, in this regard, is what I refer to as the “Full Landscape of Expertise.”
The full landscape of expertise
It’s made up of the different ways you can apply what you have learned; hands-on experience, different considerations and possibilities that are tied to your unique journey, and the like. For example, every IT professional must keep security top of mind. Regardless of role, it’s critical that every person accessing the network has the know-how to apply the appropriate best practices. Learning, training, and certifying in security, is a natural next step to build security knowledge. However, building your security skills does not exist in a silo. It is not the journey towards earning the security certification, but how you can continue to apply what you have learned, building security into everything you do. The security certification and training, in and of itself, is only a fraction of what you are truly capable of.
Earning a certification is only a “pi”ece of the puzzle (I regret nothing). In the same way that Pi calculates a circle’s ratio, certification alone is only part of the equation that calculates your full potential. As your learning journey progresses with the addition of new skills and certifications, lengthening your “diameter,” your “circumference” continues to expand as well. As you navigate your learning journey, remember that your circle of expertise is unique to you. Think big. Think broad. Your story is greater than a tale of the certifications you possess. Just as Pi Day is a day to celebrate the mathematical constant that never changes, you can celebrate the unending constant of your journey, your circle of ever-growing expertise, founded and fueled by a passion for lifelong learning.
Keep calm and circumference on
How has your expertise grown after getting certified? How has certification impacted YOUR career? Share your experience in the comments below. Or, you can find me on Twitter via @SteffiErika. Happy Pi Day!
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