[Guest Blogger] Certification Experiences


Sam Serajian (Toronto, Ontario, IT Pro)

A while ago, via the email link on this page, we recieved an email from a fellow named Sam Serajian.  Sam is relatively new to Canada, moving here from the Middle East, and he told me about his journey into IT, how he obtained his MCSE and the value he sees in it.  I thought it was a pretty inspiring story so I thought I'd share it with you.


I think certification really matters these days to employers, although some companies say it's nice to have a certificate than a must to have! When I was in Netherlands to get my TOEFL and Dutch diploma, I heard about Microsoft certifications and the growing market which was in 2000-2001. I heard that I could take the courses in Iran too, so I started feeling “HOT" about IT and then I had to leave Amsterdam to Tehran.

When I started studying for my MCSE exams and taking courses, I had a feeling of going to university again where I can start a new major, although I was working part time in a manufacturer and my major was textile engineering back in middle east\ Iran. (Old Persia) I know that place but I can never watch the 300 movie, not trueJ

I started at MFT, an institute of learning where it holds the best MCT and instructors compared to other institutes, in a class of 20 trainees with only 10 to 12 workstations for each period; this was in Sept. 2003. Due to International policy restrictions, those who were taking course and wanted to write Microsoft exams, they had to travel to UAE or Turkey to write for the exams, and I was one of them.

After 8 months taking the 5 core courses 70-210, 70-215, 70-216, 70-217, 70-218 at MFT I had to take two trips to UAE, once for 210 and 215 and the other for 216, 217 and 218. Yes, I was going for MCSE 2000 - by the time I started to get my certifications for 2000, Server 2003 showed up on market! All of my anxiousness and temper started from there!!

I was MCSA by mid-2004 that I quit the job at the manufacturer and started taking MCSE elective exams, 70-227 and 70-219 full time, and meanwhile I was working as a contractor for two small trading companies! I love 219 now, as it was one of the most difficult exams for me at that time and I spent a full 6 month for it. Finally another trip to UAE, by end of mid-2005 I was MCSE 2000 + (Security) 70-214 and I was working in small IT group for a constructional company as a volunteer.

Maybe you wonder why it took me 2 years to go through this whole process, whilst other people can get an MCSE cert. in a month or so “using lots of resources”out there! Well, as an example, being a Microsoft Certified and getting a Microsoft certification is long way totally different form each other. This applies to any other type of certification too and not just MCSE.

I learned 40% through classroom, courses and Lab hands-on experiences - BUT I learned the left 50% in my small office/home office (SOHO). Where is the other 10%? You might get it at work place or never get it...

But why build a SOHO? Did I really need to setup all those equipments to just testify and do the Microsoft case study scenarios and other topics? Yes, I had to! Although the company I was working for as a volunteer was quite big, the IT policies in place did not let my hands to be open to dig out and find out answers to my technical questions!

Of course they won’t let me do that and no company would like to have a novice touching its servers! So I had to build up my own SOHO. When I was about to get ready to come to Canada in 2005, I was worry about my SOHO, thinking who was going to take care of it?

Am I going to be able to set it up again when I arrive to Toronto? Who will be my contact? I will write more getting the first job without a Canadian experience, keeping and changing the job and especially my SOHO which I am still using for continued learning.




Sam Serajian is a Help Desk Analyst at a one of the big five Canadian banks.  He moved to Canada from the Middle East in 2005 and has been working on upgrading his skills and moving up the ladder within his organization.  His current technology interests are "to learn more about SMS, Exchange, and to strengthen my knowledge in ISA"

Comments (5)

  1. Mitch Garvis says:

    Good on you Sam!  IT Certification is certainly not a simple path to follow, and it sounds like your circumstances made it more difficult than many.  Congratulations on sticking with it, and good luck upgrading to Server 2003 and eventually Server 208 certifications!

    Mitch Garvis, MCT

    MVP: Windows Server – Customer Experience

  2. SAM SERAJIAN says:

    Thanks Mitch!

    You are right!

    To keep up with pace of certification path is breath and energy-consuming! I admit that.

    I am trying to keep my job performance high and higher and at the same time keeping my brain full fresh of different scenarios not just for exams but also for my daily job.

    It doesn’t matter how many scenarios I know, the important thing is that whether I have presence of mind to provide the fix or plan as quickly as possible whenever it s needed.


    Also getting trained by an MCT is a key to success in IT certification path for which I should be proud of myself and thankful that I got the chance to have one of the strongest and knowledgeable instructors at MFT (Tehran Technical Institute) to be my instructor named Amir.  (MCT, MCSE NT4, 2000, 2003, Internet +..)

    The benefits of the work and classes I have had with him now rise up in my daily-basis tasks at work and still at my LAB and everywhere. I also see the impact of his train as one of the main reasons that I could get my first job in IT after being in Canada for only 2 and a half month…

    My First JOb in Canada,

    Okay! I don’t hide it!

    I spent 6 hours straight form noon to evening for two months writing and changing resumes and applying for jobs on Monster started right after a week I arrived in Toronto. My cousin and her husband were both a big help to me in preparing my resume as they both programmer and developer.

    I got my first job working as a contract for a governmental company after 7 interviews, supporting Windows XP professional after migrated from Windows NT 4.0 with SP6. Now I am in one the 5 big financial institutions in Canada working as a technical analyst or you might say Help Desk!

    Good luck to those who are new to CA and are feeling HOT for IT! We need to hear their new experiences.

    The two years old Canadian Resident IT pro,

    Sam Serajian

  3. ye110wbeard says:

    Hey Sam, welcome to the IT World. 🙂

    I still remember the feeling of getting and earing my MCSE years ago.  

    My first real job in the field was a result of that certification.  I was green but with the MCSE and my attitude, I got into a small position with Hudson’s Bay Company in Information Services.    Because of my MCSE training I was allowed to take on tasks others in my position without experience weren’t.

    Either that or I was the new guy and nobody else liked dealing with OS/2 Warp, Macintoshes and TokenRing…. 🙂

    Did anybody find a "Token" anywhere? I think I dropped mine in the office…

  4. Anonymous says:

      Sam Serajian (Toronto, Ontario, IT Pro) While being involved these days in writing 70-292, I would

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