by Wang Haizhou
Six months ago, I was just an ordinary junior student, sitting in my dorm every day, writing Java programs or flipping through the pages of Bruce Eckel's “Thinking in Java,” sending out my resumé everywhere and chatting with my roommates. The only things I knew about databases were the basics of SQL and a rough idea of Oracle Database architecture. Although I had spent quite a bit of money learning Oracle, I really didn't pay much attention to it. My career plan was simply to be a conscientious programmer, or better said, a conscientious programmer with some basic understanding of Oracle Database architecture.
My life was just like that: no Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) and no Oracle Certified Master (OCM).
The change came on a day in April -- April 2, to be specific. Good that it was April 2! One day earlier (on April 1 - April Fool's Day) and I would have felt I was fooling myself. After all, I didn’t want to waste the 8000 yuan I spent registering for the OCP exam, which was not a small amount of money for a university student who was not yet financially independent. On that morning, I put aside all my Java-related study materials and focused my efforts on Oracle Database architecture. In the past, I had needed to take a break every hour when I was writing code. But that day, I was surprised to find that I managed to sit at my desk from 8 am to 11 pm -- and I did that every day for a whole week. After that, I made the bold assumption that this must be something I loved! At that time I had also been looking at various articles and videos about Steve Jobs and had found that he always said, “Do what you love.” What’s more, OCP training courses were added to the Oracle Workforce Development Program (WDP) I was in. That’s when I decided to give up Java and start learning databases. As a result, I didn’t touch Java for six months!
Some days later, I happened to be invited to a lecture, and that’s where I met Teacher H. It occurred to me that I had read quite a few of his blogs on ITPUB, and I felt that I could trust him. As a result, I became the only attendee that day who registered for his OCM training courses.
There were some interesting stories in the process of my registration for the training courses. I was told by the staff member in charge of the registration that they would call me in two weeks to make sure I would be attending the courses, but after a month I still hadn’t heard anything from them. I started to wonder whether they had forgotten me. If they had, then the spark of interest in databases inside me would have been extinguished before it could even start burning! I was debating whether to get in touch with Teacher H when, to my amazement, Teacher H contacted me! Upon hearing that the induction session would be held in Beijing, I finally knew what had happened. I probably hadn’t gotten the call because I lived in Tianjin, and the staff members had likely assumed that I would not be interested in courses in Beijing. However, they had completely underestimated my enthusiasm -- they didn’t know I’d been studying Steve Jobs and that I was very motivated. My conversation with Teacher H was short but uplifting. Basically, it went: “Are you in?” “Of course!” “Then we’ll start this week!”
Back then, Beijing was very new to me. I had only been there twice. Each time, I told people I was going to Beijing for a trip, but actually I was going to see my girlfriends. In Beijing, as far as I could remember, for two yuan you could take any metro train on any metro line. Amazing! You can go anywhere you want to go, for just two yuan! I’ve never viewed myself as smart, but I do think I have talent. By that I mean I am always clear about what I should do and uncompromisingly confident that I can do it best. Wherever I am, Tianjin or Beijing, it’s just not a problem at all.
Learning OCM was not easy, especially when I first started. I felt completely lost in topics like operating systems, databases and VMs. No one is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and the only thing you can do is to walk one step further than others every day. Taking the advantage of my youth and my manageable workload, I kept on studying from 8 am to 10 pm every day, trying to figure out every exam objective, as well as tackling operating systems, VMs, OCP, etc. When I had questions, I didn’t like to ask other people right away, because I didn’t think it would help me remember the answers over the long term; I preferred to Google them first. Sometimes when I was reading the answer to a question on Google, I would have a new question and then I would Google the new one, and so on and so forth. It might take a day to solve a problem, but in the process my knowledge would have broadened. However, you can’t always trust the Internet. I would highly recommend hands-on practice as much as possible, because seeing is believing. If I found a really good answer, I would save it for reference.
The only thing I was proud of was that I didn’t bother my teachers too much with the OCP stuff -- but I was bothered a lot myself. Our OCM exam was initially scheduled in mid-July. I had to take the OCP exam, CET 6 and the final exam, all at the same time. I had less than three weeks to prepare for all of them, so I forced myself to schedule the OCP exam preparation in two time slots every day: 6:30am to 8:00am and 11:00am to 1:30pm. My definition of OCP at that time was “Obligation, Confidence and Patience.” Later on, our OCM exam was delayed for some reason, but I took the OCP exam as planned and passed it. This experience has become the treasure of my lifetime. As my friend Xiaoyu said, ‘If you can survive this, there is nothing you can’t overcome in the future.” It is also worth noting that the result of that final exam was the best out of all my university exams.
As I mentioned, our OCM exam was delayed, which was not a bad thing for me because at least now I would have enough time to prepare for it. After months of hard work, I had a whole new mindset. If the OCP exam had been about obligating myself to face it, the OCM exam to me was really an obligation. I had learned to be responsible for my own future. There were a lot of times when I needed to discipline myself and to endure loneliness, but I managed to review everything every two days, making note of the points I didn’t understand and studying them carefully. To me, OCM meant “Obligation, Confidence and Mastery.”
I don't want to say much here about what the actual exam looks like and what you need to pay attention to, because I will go over everything in detail with you before the exam if you attend the same course I did. Otherwise, how could I feel a sense of accomplishment as a teaching assistant? In the one and a half months after the exam, I was anxious every day waiting for the results. I was really worried that I wouldn’t pass. I was even ready to retake the exam. But on the evening of October 4, I received a congratulations email from Oracle. It was a little overwhelming for me. I remember reading it five times before I could be sure that it was about me, that it was about OCM... and that it was about me passing the OCM exam.
Six months went by so fast. Now, looking back, I can still feel the incredible sense of fulfillment. I woke up every morning and felt that there was something to look forward to, because I was doing what I loved, and I also made a lot of friends. In my eyes, the whole OCM exam process is like life writ small, and I really enjoyed it.
I know I should end here, but it has just occurred to me that my primary school Chinese teacher used to tell us that a good ending should bring out the theme of the story and link with the beginning, thus elevating the whole text. Therefore, let me say: the title “OCM Your Life” is meant to suggest that you look at your life as a happy Obligation and be Confident about it, until you are able to Master it someday.
*This article was provided and authorized by Oracle Certified Master Union. To reprint, please contact Oracle University and indicate the source.