Impulsive Python Certifications
Over the last couple weeks, I've been studying to take the Python Institute's PCEP exam — it's the most basic test they offer and ran me about $60. I bought the voucher on a whim — but I bought it on a whim for a good reason.
I have a tendency to think myself into inaction. I spend too much time considering all the negative aspects of something and as a result, I fail to do anything. The result of which keeps me on a trajectory to sameness. Right now, that doesn't work, because the trajectory I'm on sucks. I've been here before and I've done things about it — that's how my brain knew to buy it before I could talk myself out of it.
Now comes the part where I have to come to terms with either the value or lack of value that it provides. Generally, I'm a proponent of certifications — they helped me get my first tech job and even helped me get promotions. But word around the internet is that a certification for a programming language doesn't mean much — it's the things you make and your contributions that matter. They're even saying that I should get a CS degree instead of wasting my time with this stuff.
This is exactly why I need to put this certification in it's place. I already know that the PCEP cert isn't going to land me a new or better job. The certification's value isn't the certification itself. Even the Python Institute, the ones trying to convince people to buy the certs, list the main benefits of getting a certification to be:
- Increased confidence
- Greater job satisfaction
- Increased quality and value of work contributions
- Increased respect from peers
- Ability to perform a new task or fill a new role
Nothing on this list says “Land a High Paying Job”.
Really though, this is a great list — but there's only one thing on the list that matters. The increased confidence. All the other things on the list will come easier as a result of that.
The last time around, my certifications never resulted in a meaningful confidence boost. I suffered from the trending “imposter syndrome”. That's a bigger issue, that, I think, stems from my own history. As a kid, I always picked up on things quickly so I never really had to study. As I grew up, this became less and less true. By the time I got to college, things weren't clicking and I just didn't have the desire or fortitude to push through with anything. That mentality stuck with me, though, even as I pursued a career in tech. And even though I would pass these tests, I still felt like I didn't know anything. Maybe it's time and experience, but it feels different now.
This test really just lays onto me a requirement to study the material and really learn it. I've always wanted to be knowledgable enough to create, but I never had the confidence to admit it. So, ultimately this certificate will hold a significant value for me, personally.
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