My first brush with Atlassian turned out to be full-on immersion when I took a new job implementing Confluence as a corporate intranet and later working as an admin with JIRA. Over the first year, I found the Atlassian Community essential, as I lurked and then eventually began contributing. Even though versions change and feature sets expand, other users still were asking many of the same questions I had. Similarly, joining an Atlassian User Group opened my eyes to the complexities as well as the potential of Atlassian products and Marketplace apps. Instead of making me feel lost and like an imposter, it exposed me to the range of possible uses and connected me with other people in similar situations.
When I found out Atlassian was launching a certification program, I knew this was the logical next step to my progression as an Atlassian admin and user. With the list of topics in hand, I methodically pored through the available documentation and practiced concepts in action with my test instance at work. Not entirely convinced this was enough, I nonetheless took and passed the Confluence Admin certification exam. A few months later at Summit, I met part of the team that created the exams, and felt excited to be part of the new wave of Atlassian Certified Professionals (and received a super comfy hoodie that I wear everywhere too)! Here was a way to prove my expertise, and I promptly uploaded the certificate to my LinkedIn profile as a way to show my professional skillset expanding. My resolve to pursue other Atlassian certifications solidified, and I began studying for the JIRA Admin certification as my next challenge.
I've heard many people express anxiety about the certification exams, asking about the questions and how to prepare. Having already been through the process, I've found the following three steps to be helpful in preparing to take the exam: (1) prepare your mindset, (2) practice different scenarios, and (3) participate broadly.
You know best how to motivate yourself. Harness intrinsic motivations by igniting your own curiosity. Give yourself problems to solve and immerse yourself in finding the solutions. Keep in mind that many times there is more than one solution to a problem, so challenge yourself to think through scenarios in which you might choose one solution over another. Many of the certification exam questions are looking for you to choose the best answer.
From my experience, many people that gravitate towards Atlassian products already are looking to optimize teamwork, which calls for a flexible approach and a problem-solving mindset. This problem-solving mindset will better prepare you for the exam as opposed to just simply focusing on the mechanics of trying to pass the certification. So, for the moment, forget the end goal of passing the certification and instead delve into mastering the topics on the exam. In my case, my approach changed from “if I were an Atlassian exam writer, how would I test on this topic,” to “in which scenario(s) would I use this knowledge that I’m learning?” Mindset is a powerful thing.
Thinking through different scenarios may take more work than you expect. Casual application users will need to apply more effort to understanding tasks they don’t normally perform. However, even seasoned admins should practice a variety of scenarios and understand the logic behind different implementations (don’t forget user directories in JIRA!). Sometimes we become unconsciously blind to the full capabilities of the application because we may use only a small subset of the features in our day-to-day use of a product. I personally set up a free JIRA Cloud dev instance and experimented to test the limits.
My last advice is to push your own limits and participate broadly. There are welcoming Atlassian communities both online and offline. From casual end user to avid power user, there is a place to interact for everyone. Find your tribe where you can get answers to the questions that will inevitably pop up. Let us be part of the team that gets you to the finish line (and beyond)! The quality of participation says a lot about how much Atlassian supports its ecosystem. Also, take a hands-on approach to your own future. Getting certified in Atlassian products could open doors that you did not even know exist.
While studying for the JIRA Admin certification, an Atlassian partner recruited me to join their team. Being familiar with the Atlassian values gave me confidence that this training and implementation consulting job would be the right fit. I gave up my life in Washington, DC, and moved abroad to support clients of Atlassian products! The certification program enabled me to pursue this opportunity, and I’m excited to give back to the community. With Summit coming up, I hope to meet other Atlassian Certified Professionals and continue to challenge myself. Another certification is definitely next up...
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