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This chapter is from the book

I’m Certified—So, NOW What?

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!

You have taken the time to earn a certification, a certification that can help to distinguish you from the thousands of other folks out there who have similar qualifications but no certification. However, you may be wondering, “What’s next?”

Great question!

Your certification, although extremely valuable, doesn’t completely define who you are. In fact, I would say that earning ANY certification is only the start of your journey or perhaps one stepping stone along the path of lifelong personal development. I share this not only as a friendly bit of advice, but also by way of a testimonial.

I have had various different certifications over the years, which have been useful in demonstrating baseline knowledge and understanding in terms of Agile/Scrum concepts and project management. However, true engagement, enrichment, and satisfaction have come via the other activities that I have undertaken, which go well beyond just certification.

My goal here is to suggest some ways that you can enhance your skills, qualifications, and overall value in the marketplace by engaging in ongoing learning and involvement in the community. This shouldn’t be seen as a checklist to be completed. It’s merely a collection of ideas for HOW to improve in case you might be stuck or overwhelmed by all the choices or you aren’t sure where to begin.

First, if you are interested in going beyond the CSM, CSPO, or CSD, you may want to consider the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) certification.

One perspective on the CSP is that it is the next logical step up the certification ladder at Scrum Alliance, and thus, one more way to differentiate yourself from others in the job market. Even if you are not interested in pursuing CSP, the guidelines entitled Earn SEUs for Your CSP are located on the Scrum Alliance Web site and are fairly comprehensive in terms of ways that people can get involved and improve themselves. In particular, the various categories listed detail many ideas for how to get involved with the community by giving back and how to continue on with your learning journey.

Giving back to the community and helping others is not only a great way to network and build a support system of professionals and even friends, but also results in a heightened sense of gratification and peace. Doing good makes us feel good. And that can take on many forms from simply answering someone’s question with your own perspective to helping them as a mentor.

Another perspective on the CSP is this: if you are doing great things for the community and for yourself and you have a bunch of experience with Scrum, why not get “credit” for it by applying for the CSP? This has been my approach more or less throughout my career. I am going to read books to improve myself and my approach to coaching and helping organizations. I also have a servant’s heart in terms of helping people to grow and become what they want to be. So, along the way, I figured “Why not apply for Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC)? I am doing all that stuff already.”

However, the main emphasis here is this: be hungry and thirsty for knowledge.

Certifications can sometimes help provide a plan for learning in the face of an insurmountable amount of knowledge and resources. “Where do I start???” Well, pursuing a certification many times unlocks paths for additional learning and provides people with ideas and inspiration for continuing on with more focused study in an area that they are passionate about.

Another idea is to check out the Agile Trainer site. This is a nonprofit sister site sponsored by Apple Brook Consulting that offers free help and information to those seeking to become a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). However, the resources listed and such can be beneficial to ALL who seek to become more effective with Agile practices. This site will continue to grow and change over the months to come and will eventually be a centralized repository for many other Agile resources. If there is anything you would like to see added to the site, I am happy to take suggestions and implement these moving forward as they make sense.

Another idea is to attend a Scrum Gathering or other similar event where there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of other individuals who share your passion about Agile. I have attended many different events over the years and always find that I am energized, inspired, and have a huge list of new resources to add to my toolkit and things to explore further. I also find that my network has grown even BIGGER!! I have made some very dear friends from going to events. It’s a great way to get involved in general.

Finally, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to become 100 percent self-sufficient and self-reliant. I am a firm believer in seeking help and asking questions of others, especially those who are more experienced and knowledgeable than I. However, nothing is more frustrating to people than when someone asks a question about something that they could easily discover in a few minutes by searching Google, Wikipedia, or any other well-publicized resource online.

I can remember growing up without the Internet, back in the 1970s. When I started school back in 1975, my parents invested in two different sets of encyclopedias, and we frequently spent time at the public library. When I asked questions about things that were general knowledge, my parents would gently remind me, “Well, what does the encyclopedia say?” Over time, I learned to first look things up when I had a question. If I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I would go to my parents and say “I was looking for X in the encyclopedias but didn’t find it. Can you help?” or “I looked up X in the encyclopedia and it says Y. But, I don’t understand. Can you explain it to me?”

There are two key things to take away from all this:

  • As the saying goes, “Sometimes, to go faster, you have to slow down.” Slow down. Read things and learn for yourself.

  • If you want help, give help. Chances are, you have already received help, if you pause and reflect on how you have reached where you are in your career. Heck, if you are reading this, then, obviously you can read. Someone helped you with that. Also, you have access to a computer and an e-mail account. Someone probably helped you along the line with that also.

If you need help beyond all this, please reach out and let me know. I am happy to help others because I have received a great deal of help over the years. Lord knows I have needed it!! :)

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