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I've been working in the IT industry for several years now...

Michael Poore (United Kingdom), MCSE 2003 09 Jan to 02 Feb 2005

I've been working in the IT industry for several years now. I cut my Windows teeth on NT in the late 1990s and eventually started to explore the certification path. Sadly, I never found the time away from work to obtain anything more than MCP status. (It also didn't help that there wasn't a Prometric Test Center nearby.

I continued working, gaining experience with NT and the Windows 2000 and XP as well as a plethora of other products and technologies. Then along came Windows 2003. Again I started using it but then I took a career break to go traveling with my wife.

It was during this break that I gave some thought to what I would do when I returned to my career.

Thoughts of Microsoft certification crept back into my head I realized that I had the perfect opportunity approaching. After some research I found a few possible training providers that interested me. Some of them didn't respond to emails, some did. I eventually settled on Koenig for a variety of reasons.

Cost was an important factor. Having been out of work for nine months and spending the proceeds of our house sale in 19 different countries I found that many of the training providers were out of my reach.

Also important to me was the response I got back from Koenig. My initial communication with them was through the Training Manager, Sandeep. He was quick to respond and very helpful and accommodating. Even around the Diwali festival when I didn't expect a response for several days his name popped up in my inbox.

The final factor that drew me to Koenig was that it was in India. At the time of booking my course I hadn't been there but it was scheduled to be the final destination (other than England of course) on our world trip. Since I would already have seen the country, I would be able to devote myself completely to studying and learning.

Our tour of the world ended with India as I have already mentioned. We were tired and looking forward to some of the creature comforts that we left behind so India came as a bit of a shock to us. Our five weeks exploring the country were a bit of an assault on our senses and very hard. As tourists we found ourselves the focus of quite a bit of attention, some of it, unfortunately, was unwanted. To be fair though, we'd had similar experiences in quite a few countries already. India was definitely worth visiting though. The various forts and temples range from excellent to stunning even if some of them look the same. The Taj Mahal is worth a visit to India on its own.

It was with a little trepidation that I left England again after only three weeks. Christmas and the New Year flashed past me and my course beckoned. Delhi's airport was the same as when I had been there only eight weeks previously - the long queue to get through immigration and the waiting masses of taxi drivers. What was different this time was being met at the airport. Part of the Koenig package includes the transfers to and from the airport.

The hotel I was assigned to was called the Pals Inn. Compared to some of the places I stayed in during my last visit to India it was like a palace. More accurately though I'd describe it as adequate for my purposes. It had hot (scalding) water, clean sheets and towels everyday and cable TV. When your main focus is studying you don't need much else. The room service main was perhaps a little limited but I found enough that I liked to keep me going and there were several restaurants and a Domino's nearby too. The hotel didn't have its own internet access but that didn't bother me too much as I was able to check my email from the training room.

Since I had already been to India recently I didn't feel the need to explore much. Any first time visitors to India should definitely go to Agra though and see the Taj Mahal. You can't get this close to it and not go.

All of the people that I've met since starting my course have been incredibly friendly and helpful. From the man in Domino's who knows my name after a single visit to the taxi drivers who smile and say hello every morning to Meghna, who can arrange anything for anyone and still finds the time to make sure you're ok and have a chat.

So what about the course itself? I opted for the Fast Track as I felt I had a pretty good grounding already but it was seriously hard work. I would certainly recommend the Regular Track for all but the most experienced. In hindsight I might have gone for it as it allows more time to practice what you have just been learning about but four or five hours of studying a night and all day Sunday was enough to see me through.

My trainer, was thoroughly knowledgeable and I learned quite a lot from her during my four week stay. Communication wasn't really a problem as her English was excellent. That was just as well because my Hindi is limited to "hello" and "thank you".

I haven't found the exams too difficult so far although I do have a couple left to finish before my flight home, Hopefully I'll get back home with an MCSE / MCSA 2003 qualification. It's what I came here to get. I had a lot of experience already but sometimes that doesn't seem to matter to people. They want you to have the certification too. If that's what you're after then Koenig should certainly be a consideration. If I'd had the time (and the money!) I would even have tried another course or two. Maybe next time..