As many of you know, we’ve changed our Immersion Event courses to more closely match the requirements of the Microsoft Certified Masters – SQL Server 2008 certification. No, the exams are NOT part of the training. And, NO, you don’t need to be aiming for certification to benefit greatly from the training.

Being a master means mastering the materials, mastering the features and mastering SQL Server. This will NEVER come directly from JUST a class – EVER. If you could just pass the test after attending a class then what would that prove?

In fact, this is partially why these exams exist. They are meant to really test people’s knowledge of the product as well as a lot of their real-world experiences with it.

Wait – so then what do the classes do?

They help you get on the right path. They teach you proven, real-world best practices. They get you focused on solutions rather than just features. And, most importantly, these classes are not just teaching what the best practices are, but WHY they’re best practices.

Our goal is NOT to teach you the answer, but instead we teach you the information and steps necessary to be able to solve your problem scenarios.

But, even after attending a week – or two – of deep training, can you really go out and successfully implement ALL of these features and solutions without help and without error? I really doubt it; you need that real-world experience and reinforcement.

What are the Immersion Event Options?

That’s your choice – and you have quite a few!

  • You can attend ONLY the training weeks where you have some weaknesses
  • You can attend multiple classes – but over time – allowing that time to solidify the content learned and allowing your experience to build
  • You can watch the online videos – no, they’re not the entire set of class content. Far from it actually, they’re about 20-25% of the content. And, numerous attendees have said that they’re both helpful before AND after these courses. Before – to help them prepare for the class and to get the most out of it. After – for review and to help reinforce many of the concepts.
  • You can attend ALL four classes… in a row. Wow, this is probably the most challenging.

Dead-man’s Float – for 4 Solid Weeks – Can you do it?

Or, even better – should you do it? Well, it’s definitely NOT for everyone. These classes are intense as standalone one or two-week courses… And, we’ve heard repeatedly that many attendees are really happy that they have the option to spread out the training and reinforce the materials learned between each of the weeks. However, there are still folks that want to truly immerse themselves in the content and then go for the exams within a few months of the training. Will that work? Well, you knew I’d have to say it eventually – it depends!

Honestly, it’s going to be VERY difficult. However, there are folks out there that can do it. In fact, there are already folks* that have passed the exams without the formal training (yet another benefit from Microsoft having separated the training from the exams). And, those folks that have attended the training certainly understand *many* real-world practices – and WHY they’re best practices.

SO, if you do this – what should you do to be the most successful?

  • Prior to class:
    • First, watch as many of the online videos as you can
    • Second, review as many links from our MCM prep materials as you can
  • Attend the classes:
    • Try to completely immerse yourself in the classes and try to disconnect (this is very, VERY difficult but if you spend your entire day on email and/or fighting fires then what’s the point of attending the training?)
    • Nightly, review some of the class content – at least briefly
    • Nightly and/or on weekends – work through the hands-on labs (we give you a DVD in class that you can install and work with to solidify many of the concepts covered)
    • Hey, I said it wasn’t going to be easy!
  • After class: Use these best practices in your day-to-day jobs
    • Continue to watch the videos
    • Use any further MCM prep content that’s available

Incentive to swim with the sharks!

For those of you who want to tackle all four of our Immersion Events as a single 4 week series – you can! We don’t offer all four classes in the same city, four weeks in a row very often but we generally will at least once a year. This year, we’re offering all four in Bellevue, WA in the month of August. We chose August as it’s an absolutely wonderful time of year to be in the Northwest and if you do venture out of the hotel on nights or weekend – there’s tons to do!

What’s the deal?

If you attend all four weeks of Immersion Events in August and stay at our event hotel (the Bellevue Courtyard by Marriott) during these classes (at least 20 nights) we can get you an even lower nightly rate of $149 _and_ we will pay $1,500 of your total hotel bill.

But, the hotel is more expensive than some of the extended stay locations?

True – but with our taking $1,500 off of your bill, it's a lot closer. And, we think it’s ideal to stay at the hotel because of the length of the event. With breakfast starting at 7:45 am, the lecture running until 17:30+ and evening events (on most evenings) that end between 8 or 9pm, you’ll be glad you have a place to go drop your stuff (or grab something you forgot) or even just a place to go relax for a few minutes.

And, at the end of a long day – you won’t need to deal with a shuttle (or a taxi or other) to get back to where you're staying. And, if you do have your own car then you’ll need to pay for the rental car and hotel parking ($5 per day). What's even easier, if you stay at the hotel, is that you can rent a car only when you need it (there’s a Hertz facility close to the hotel).

And, finally, my favorite part about the hotel is the location; you can walk to a tremendous number of restaurants and shops and they’re only two blocks from the Bellevue Transit Center so you’re a quick bus ride to the city if you want to see some sights over the weekend!

So, while I don't expect a lot of folks to take the full-on 4 week Immersion Event series, we've already got two that are doing it and so this is why I thought I'd do the post. And, for those of you that end up hanging out in WA before/after our classes – I even send out a list of possible sight-seeing activities and things to do/see. August is a fantastic time to be in Bellevue and in WA in general. Last year over half of our August Immersion Event attendess brought SOs to enjoy the trip.

We hope to see you there!!

Cheers,
kt

* Joseph Sack ( t | b ), Microsoft Certified Master – SQL Server 2008 blogger has blogged about each of the folks that has passed here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/themasterblog/ and we’d like to make a few special call outs to some of the recently certified masters. Congrats first – to our newest SQLskills member – Jonathan Kehayais ( t | b ). And, additional congrats to our good friends: Denny Cherry ( t | b ), Simon Sabin ( t | b ), and Maciej Pilecki ( t )!!!