I never used my Oracle Certification; my 2 Cisco certifications are expiring soon

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I have Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Associate (OCA 10g). I have Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). I also have Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice.

The OCA does not expire, but my CCNA and CCNA Voice will be expiring in less than a year. I got both the OCA and CCNA 5 years ago. I did the CCNA Voice 2 years ago, to prevent my CCNA from expiring and to focus on the Telephony side of ICT. 

The interesting part is how I got into the certification maze.

It all began while in my 4th year in the University. 
In the university calendar, every student is scheduled to go for a six months internship (popularly referred to as Industrial Training). So, at the start of that year, I got a long list of companies in Nigeria and their contact details. I applied to everyone: Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Motorola, Telnet, Siemens... And a few called me for interview/test.

I would travel from Akure (Federal University of Technology Akure) to Lagos fully prepared for the interview. And on getting to the interview venue, I'd meet lots of other students from other universities, all there for interviews too. But the part that got to me was that while interacting with them as we waited for the actual interview session, I would meet a guy and find out he is from a private university, and with a GPA lounging in first class. Then I would meet like 5 of his colleagues with GPA's in first class. What? 6 first class in same department!

Throughout my 1st year till my 3rd year in the University, I heard life stories of students in other universities (especially OAU and Unilorin). The popular belief then was that only Unilag students were lucky. 
I got into the university believing that what matters is providing the right answers to the exam questions. By the end of my 1st year, after praying more after exams than before exams, praying that the papers don't get lost in the over 5000 papers the lecturer was grading, and that the lecturer should be in a good mood while grading mine; I discovered that one's grade depends more on the lecturer than the student. Then by the end of my 2nd year, I found out that providing the right answer might have disastrous effects, it's providing the lecturer's answer that is safe. And by the end of my 3rd year, I had bought into the rumor that no one will graduate with a first class in my set, the department was temporarily out of first class slots, no thanks to the sets before us (especially 3 sets before us, they used up a lot of the limited slots). My consolation was the stories of fellow students from other universities; it was a global issue (so I thought).

Then I met these guys, and couldn't believe their results. 6 guys from the same department have first class! 

Then none of the interviews I went for was successful. And I started noticing some jobs in Guardian newspapers that called for only first class B.Sc's. Then I knew that I've been screwed. The entire game has changed -- there are now more people with first class, and the employers don't care if your university has a cap on the number of first class per year or decade (heard of a particular dept with no first class for close to a decade). 

Way Out? I asked myself one day. Some days later, the answer became Certifications.

And that was how I got into the certification frenzy. And those 3 were the ones I ended up writing an exam for; I have also studied for Comptia A+, Comptia N +, Comptia Linux +, LPIC, Certified Ethical Hacking...

And now?
I'm yet to use my OCA. Though, I have made money from my CCNA expertise, it is now becoming a burden. I can't keep re-certifying every 3 years.


  1. I have read your story and I'll like to know how you overcame the problem.

  2. If you meant my (now) near useless certifications, I won't be renewing any.

    If you meant overcoming the job market problem; I have sent out more job applications than anyone I have come across. Quantity does make up for Quality, sometimes.

  3. Hahaha. Michael, you won't kill me with this one.

    I almost got lost in that world, too. Wrote my CCNA during my industrial training - and it came close to derailing my career. I decided to write an exam because everyone else was writing one. I didn't even care if it had any correlation with my career plans; I just wanted a certification.

    I believe the simple trick is not in the amount of certifications one has - but the amount of RELEVANT ones. Pick a path and learn as much as you can about it. If it's really your life's central focus, you'd be eager to stay relevant in the field - even if that means the occasional re-certification.

    PS - Those certifications are sources of revenue for many companies.


    It was during my industrial training that I got into that world

  4. Hi Imisi,

    I'll follow your advice. I'll think hard and long about the CCNA and CCNA Voice, if I can't find a good enough place for them in my career plan, I'll stop making Cisco money.



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