37 – travel and career aspirations

I spent the past week working at a customer facility in Calgary. I was extremely busy. I had every intent of spending every evening locked up in my hotel room and studying for the GRE – but that never materialized. I intentionally stayed at a boring hotel that was ridiculously close to the customer so I would have nothing better to do in the evenings except study.

Well, I didn’t get a chance to study. My days started at 6:00 AM and ended at around 7:30 to 8:00 PM – when I would finish sending my status emails. By then, I was just mentally exhausted to even think of writing practice essays, work on reading comprehension, or brush up on math. I just wanted to finish eating, talk to my family, and go to sleep. By the end of the day, a pillow never looked so good.

I didn’t go out with any customers. I didn’t do any sightseeing – my camera never left my room. I didn’t go anywhere fancy for dinner – I went to Subway for half of my meals.

If I’m having such a hard time studying for the GRE now, what’s it going to be like when I’m actually in school? How am I going to balance work, school, and family? Almost all of my coworkers have a Masters degree, and though I know it’s going to help me with my future career aspirations, I seriously don’t think it would help my company or my projects in the near term.

What do I think *will* help? Professional certification. I should retest and renew my CCNA (it expired in 2004) and aspire towards that CCNP. I should ‘sell’ CEH certification and make a business case for it. I should look into relearning UML (well – is anyone still using UML?) and perhaps read up on cognitive psychology as it relates to user interface design. I think my current projects can really benefit from understanding how users interface with a system – not how engineers or designers interface with it.

My GRE is scheduled in less than two weeks, and I have zero confidence in my test-taking abilities at this moment in time. I’m sure I can cram and get-er-done in the next two weeks, but I’m not looking forward to it.

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