I joined ITP with the goal of learning and being pushed out of my comfort zone, so when I was asked if I would've liked it to go for a Google certificate, I said well yes, why not. Not knowing what I was up to, of course.
Imposter syndrome aside, the challenge was set: try to ace the Professional Cloud Developer certification exam by the end of the year. However, there were probably better ideas amid a heavy autumn with two high-maintenance projects laying on the table.
Morning coffee with Google
I started with an hour a day of Google's own learning path. They offer multiple "tracks" with essential information. Stuff like storage classes, what a VPC is and how billing differs between products. Google also provides hands-on labs, in which you get a playground environment in Google Cloud and follow a tutorial. Quite cool, but it costs money. While enjoying my morning coffee with Google's teachers, who explained the Strangler Pattern, I thought I'd be ready for the practice exam.
Jeez, was I wrong. 🥵
When I opened the Practice Exam for the first time, I realized I needed more in-depth knowledge. I didn't have any experience with structuring BigQuery queries, and I sure wasn't qualified enough to handle the black magic of Kubernetes.
Guru junior 🤓
It was naive to think I would be able to do this alone, so I returned to the home base of information - Confluence - where other colleagues wrote down their memoirs about passing the exam.
Not very long after that, I filled out the practice exam on ACloudGuru (ACG, formerly LinuxAcademy) because I still thought I knew enough already. I scored average on the practice exam, but Google doesn't disclose the passing grade, so I still didn't feel confident.
ACG claims they "refresh your knowledge" of everything that will feature the exam - not that you'll pass the exam when you follow their course - but hey, the stars weren't aligned for me to pass the exam either way, so I skipped Google's learning path and focused on the ACG course.
I decided to follow the complete ACG's Google Certified Professional Cloud Developer course by Tim Berry. The 20-hour long course provides the basics for each topic and is quite fun with all the hands-on labs that I can recommend. Basically, ACG gives you an empty Google Cloud project, and you have 2 hours for yourself to follow along with a tutorial. I'm a learner by doing, so it was helpful to experiment with a failing Managed Instance Group due to a Health Check/firewall issue.
Although the quizzes at the end of each chapter are fun and a good resource, the questions are the same for each attempt you make. There is some difference in the Practice Exam questions, but it's not a completely different exam. This can give you a false sense of confidence. You eventually just remember the questions and the correct answers to them in the end.
Just do it
After some weeks of practice and studying the curriculum, I caught myself redoing each exam over and again, while I didn't even schedule the exam yet. So why was I waiting to take the jump? Well, there wasn't really a reason, so I signed up for the exam a day later.
With WebAssesor. Man, what a stressful procedure that is. You have to walk around with your laptop in your room, then film everything under/above/near you, and then the robot (it felt like a robot, probably a human that has ready-made clickable chat messages they sent you) says your good to go.
And from there, it's showtime. 120 minutes, 60 questions, which seems doable but isn't very generous. There's no time to overthink each question. Besides, the time ticking away on top of each question doesn't really help to calm the nerves.
I did 3 rounds of all the questions. In the first round I was very thorough and I made sure I answered all the questions. You can flag the ones you're not sure about. I did this with almost 2/3 of the questions. During this first round, I felt pretty depressed, thinking I wouldn't pass this exam as I had so many questions I wasn't sure about.
During my second round, I re-read all questions and the answers. I gained a little confidence, my mood changed, and I was more sure about the questions I doubted my answers to earlier. I left the questions I wasn't 100% sure about flagged. All the answers I was sure about were "marked as final" in my head. I think I changed 2 or 3 answers.
During the third and last round (time was ticking away very fast), I only redid the questions that were flagged.
And then I clicked "submit exam". Finally, some relief, as I made it to the end. I was preparing for the worst; to be honest, my first feelings were back.
And then WebAssesor asked for feedback. Like I was gonna spend 10 minutes describing how I felt about the software before receiving my result 🤨. Next. Yes, I understand the terms. No, not feedback. Next. And then there it was.
"Your result: PASS."
Stopped breathing. Blinked eyes. Copied "pass". Opened the browser and navigated to translate.google.com, pasted "pass". Exhaled. Happy. 🙂
I am pleased to have passed the certificate exam. I've definately learned a lot on cloud computing and that was one of my goals from the start.
It demands you to know so many things that we don't regularly use. For example, I hadn't set up an on-prem Kubernetes cluster along with one in GKE. However, it's fun to discover all these technologies and understand how Google (and any other cloud provider probably) manages stuff like serverless containers and FaaS in the background.
The exam, therefore, isn't the most important thing here; it was the learning trajectory that preceded my attempt. I can definitely advise anyone to follow the course on ACG and get certified yourselves! On to the next challenge. ✌️