(acronyms listed at the end of the article)
Today was the 2021 Scottish Summit, a great example of what the community can do and next week it’s Microsoft Ignite where we will be celebrating certificated professionals. So it seemed a great time to put out this blog about what Microsoft Certified Trainer community means to me.
I LOVE being an MCT and wanted to share with you all why if you are an MCT I strongly believe you should engage with the community. So this blog shares what being involved in the community has given me personally and professionally.
I am an independent trainer and have been working as a full time freelance professional since 2005, focussing mainly on training and more recently consultancy too. I’ve been in training and education in some form or other since gaining my PGCE in 1996 and have been an MCT since 2008, though I was a MOUS Master Instructor for nearly 2 years before I became an MCT, as in those days Office certifications had their own instructor program before it was merged with the MCT program.
Having left teaching after a fixed term contract and fallen into IT training by accident in 1998/9, the Office certifications and the ECDL were a gateway to knowledge and skills in my new profession and at the time were a HUGE step for me. Computers were not really my friend at this point, but by working for these certifications I learnt and was soon hooked on IT. But I passed the exams, applied to and was accepted into the MOUS Master Instructor program and my IT Training career was born.
Fast forward to 2017 and I was starting to wonder why I kept renewing my MCT. It was starting to feel like a useless badge. If I’m honest, I kept renewing mainly for pride but it wasn’t really worth the cost and if I’m honest, I didn’t see any other benefits being an MCT. Especially once the Office 365 licence benefit was withdrawn.
Then in 2017, I got an email from one of the UK regional leads about an event they were holding at the Microsoft Campus in Reading in the October. Now I didn’t even know such things happened and hadn’t ever received such a message before so had no idea what a regional lead was, let alone that there was a whole community of MCTs. I mainly went as I was interested in seeing the Reading offices and learning a bit more about this Azure thing that seemed to somehow link the Office 365 which I was now mainly training on. Oh how naïve I was!
I’d been training Office365 since about 2013 (Aug 2013 was the first course I have delivered focused on Office 365 as a whole) , but it was that event in 2017 when I first became aware of the MCT community and realised just how much was going on and what other trainers were doing, as well as how little I actually knew about some parts of 365 and cloud, but also how much I knew about others areas. That event was a catalyst for me to drive to the next level. I wanted to be a certified 365 administrator and train the official courses. I felt I was so close, though having no technical background it was a struggle.
After that UK event in 2017, and another in 2018 then the MCT Global Summit in Germany in Oct 2018 I gained the motivation (and confidence) to try for the Office 365 certifications. It took me a few more months after that to get my first Microsoft 365 certification, mainly as I ended up waiting for the role based certifications early in 2019.
By the time the European MCT Summit rolled around in September 2019, I had friends in the MCT community and even got up the courage to speak at the event to try and encourage others to follow in my footsteps. Now, no-one’s first conference speech is an amazing success, but mine was well received, plus I got a lot of helpful comments and constructive feedback. My biggest gain at that event though was that I really now understood what was going on.
After those two international events as well as friends in the community I had I had also gained a network of people who encouraged me, helped when I asked and referred work to me too. In the space of 18 months I’d gone from being disillusioned with being an MCT to gaining professionally and personally from being a part of a community I had been missing out on.
As a result of getting involved in the MCT community I’ve been to more community events and conferences (not just those for MCTs), gained many more professional contacts, met more MCTs, am now delivering the MOC courses, helped others get started with their MCT benefits and generally got more involved in the MCT Community. But the biggest thing this community has given me from a professional perspective was the support and motivation to take the steps I wanted to enhance my career. Without that one email in 2017 and that one event, none of that would have been possible.
Acronyms in this post
MOUS – Microsoft Office User Specialist (now MOS: Microsoft Office Specialist)
PGCE – Post Graduate Certificate in Education, a Teaching Certificate for UK schools open to those already having a degree
ECDL – European Computer Driving Licence
MOC Courses – Microsoft Official Curriculum Courses