Yad Senapathy, PMP July 16, 2022
By Dr. Jennifer Miller
Some choices are challenging like degrees versus certifications as well as how, when, where, through or with who, why, and which ones. For instance, I completed a bachelor's degree in project management over 10 years ago, which I credit for much of my personal and professional success; however, the internationally-recognized Project Management Professional (PMP) certification was achieved recently and after multiple other professional and personal adventures plus opportunities that weren't quite right. Around the Great Recession I worked in industry and pursued degrees full-time - I loved learning and rapidly applying project management principles day-in and day-out! Still, it wasn't until much later, in summer 2021, an undeniably great opportunity slipped into my inbox as my organization was covering costs and time for pursuing the PMP through their contracted vendor including the test, membership, and materials. It was a stellar deal, smooth application process, and swift shift off to the races!
Before I knew it a kick-off with my organization's contracted provider, Project Management Training Institute (PMTI), was conducted in November 2021 and materials arrived around late January 2022. I jumped into the videos and one book's content from February to March 2022 on my own with the digital and hard copy resources. It seemed like I bit off a lot in my solo study lead-up endeavors based on a PMTI Diagnostic test I took ahead of some time off. Maybe even too much! However, the four 1-day-a-week Boot Camp days PMTI conducted with my organization's Cohort 1 each week of April 2022 relieved a ton of worry. To be honest: the Boot Camp days were tough and had a lot of content as we used a massive â€œBlue Bookâ€ of some 800 pages packed with slides. I would work for about 2 hours before the boot camp sessions would start.
Despite periodic breaks and long lunch breaks, the days were long since we'd wrap in the evenings around 7-8pm EST with hundreds of slides covered, exams, and refresh sessions starting boot camp sessions 2 through 4 of the prior boot camp day's content. One of the best parts of the boot camps were individuals sharing real life experiences and illustrations of the content as we may better recognize it in our workplaces versus the PMP perfect worlds found in textbooks. Our instructor also brought the energy and enthusiasm to carry us during our lulls with lots of laughs. The midday and end-of-day exams built confidence and gave fabulous feedback since there was an exam mode and a learning mode to leverage for assessing yourself, but also learning while testing. These exams were a total mood booster for the most part as they were quite easy or missed items were silly mistakes of speed and lack of reviews. Our cohort did a group review of each exam to dissect any questions and answers we chose - some were quite debatable but all proved useful. Although brutal, the boot camps were a ton better than the earlier solo study efforts thanks to my cohort peers and our trainer, Mr. Yad Senapathy, being live, posing questions and answers, and the general feeling of connectedness in our synchronous studies. After each day, I completed a review of all slides we'd covered to that point during the Friday to Sunday period after the week closed. My reviewing consisted of mostly reading straight through each page with minimal additional note creating or clarifying with cute ways to remember the points. The weekend after my cohort concluded boot camps, I spent re-reading content, gaining approval to test, and trying more of the PMTI diagnostic and simulation tests. I was doing better and had data to show it! The connections, cute quips, and clarity was coming together from the book and slide materials as demonstrated in the success with practice questions. PMTI also provided my cohort access to more videos of recent PMPs' test experiences, which I devoured to ease the anxiety I felt mounting. I was also scoring on target with the simulations then and by week's end I scheduled my exam for May 9, 2022, to allow for final reviews of the boot camps slides, books, and diagnostics and simulation tests. I grew quite fond of the learning mode for the practice test options!
Monday morning rolled around and I tested at my home with the virtual proctor system to achieve success! As soon as I could log into the PearsonVue testing site, I did. I tried too early without success. Prior to this point, I'd read and explored all the content about the process and preparation recommendations like downloading the software program to support testing, testing my computer's suitability to test, and preparing my physical space. The proctor joined very soon after introducing himself by audio to kick off the rapid review of my space since all the technology checked out. This step was more thorough than the website explained to include removing paper from my printer, tossing my tissue, and completely uprooting my laptop to fully scan the area - this was additional to the advertised photography session you'll execute with your cell phone and special instructions with visual examples. My proctor interaction was brief and undetectable thereafter since all else was self-driven: tutorial, exam, breaks, completion. Not only did I pass on this first attempt, but I scored above the target in every area. This achievement was beyond my expectations but among the predicted outcomes Mr. Senapathy boasted of during our cohort's time with him the prior month.
I'm confident my cohort will include many others performing as well in the near future. The teamwork and PMTI program paid off tremendously from the start of my company choosing the powerfully guaranteed PMTI program to the brutal but beneficial boot camps to the oh-so-many-slides to the more basic books and oodles of videos. In my experience, I was reminded of how many learning modes there are and how well this opportunity catered to the variety. PMTI included a book some said had the feel of reading a story while the live webinar boot camp days provided abundant material to listen to and read with our giant book of slides to write in. Our exams, simulations, and diagnostic tests allowed for actually doing the testing to gauge the look and feel of the real examination all of our efforts were building toward. The learning mode and exam mode of the exams, simulations, and diagnostic tests were particularly helpful for solo preparation at our own pace, but greatly supplementary to our boot camp sessions. Of all of my certifications, the PMP is likely my most useful and I'm just getting started!
For a few tips from my efforts: I looked for places to incorporate what I was learning from the start of my studies to help make things â€œstick.â€ In an example, I used new words and understandings of risk vs issues and impediments, obstacles, and blockers in conversations, writing, and briefings. Also, use breaks strategically in studies, but also on the actual exam. I cannot recommend this enough to keep circulation, focus, and stress in check. Menthol or minty chapstick helps with alertness and prevents violation of test rules like moving your mouth. Finally, leverage past exam experiences in your approach with the PMP. My past experiences for in-center testing were no-break, hundreds of questions, multiple modules, pat-down at test centers, no this, no that, don't do those, etc and it was no fun. That's one reason I opted for the at-home and virtual examination. I also wanted this project concluded sooner than later so I put on the pressure for cramming and executing quickly once the boot camp period was complete. If that's not your style, then opt for pacing, chunking out activities, and building to a smooth and easy pass.
To close, I hope you all have enjoyed this brief tale of my journey through choices in normal and pandemic times, and my eventual arrival at achieving the PMP credential through my organization's excellent choice of procuring PMTI's services and goods for PMP certification training. I also hope you've gleaned greater clarity on your choice to take the risk of a rewarding opportunity and sharpened tools of a new toolbox to apply for a better-controlled way of work and life. I'm glad to be your referring party! PMTI is even offering a deal: Referrals and referred students each receive a $50 Amazon gift card if the referral is submitted prior to student enrollment. Full terms and conditions are here: PMTI Referral Program.
Dr. Jennifer A. Miller, PMP
Dr. Jennifer A. Miller is a business operations manager for the Defense Health Agency. She is a certified project management professional, certified government financial manager, a certified defense financial manager with acquisition specialty and a member of the American Society of Military Comptroller's Washington Chapter, the Association of Government Accountants Northern Virginia Chapter, and AFCEA.
Opinions, conclusions and recommendations expressed or implied within are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Defense Department or any other U.S. government agency.